The Anstruther Lake Cottager's Association held the 54th Annual Regatta this past weekend and it was a great success. Weather was great, it was cool and overcast in the morning, perfect for the runners and the sun appeared later in the day, good for the swimmers.
The ALCA Annual General Meeting was held yesterday and the Mayor of North Kawartha, Rick Woodcock attended as well as the Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park Superintendent Paul Smith.
The 'elephant in the room' was the infamous Dock issue that continues to haunt North Kawartha.
The Dock issue has become even muddier for waterfront property owners inside Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park. We were of the impression that, being residents inside the Park, we were exempt from the Bylaw. However, we found out today, for the first time that this may not be the case. The Mayor was asked if the bylaw applies to Anstruther at all and he said he could not answer that question. He deferred to Paul Smith who advised that a Park Permit would apply to only the portion of dock that is in the water over the lakebed. Paul Smith deferred back to the Mayor, clarifying that whatever touches shore is in the Township's jurisdiction. The Mayor would not comment further. It would appear that we are not entirely exempt from the Town's bylaw though I'm not sure we got an answer. Perhaps we all inferred the answer - in the 'non answer'. When asked for a show of hands of how many others were confused, almost all in attendance raised their hands. There was no clarification.
A further surprise was the announcement that a fee of $1,500 could be applicable for new docks if a site specific zone amendment were required. This was a shocking figure to hear. As Council did not approve a fee for docks at a previous Council meeting, instead electing to defer the matter, by default, the Township would view docks as a building and the fee for a building is $1,500.
The Marina has followed this issue with great concern on behalf of clients since the beginning. We advised that we had appealed the bylaw to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). A total of six appeals have been submitted we were told. Also in attendance at the Annual General Meeting was former Mayor Jim Whalen, who advised that he is one of the six appeals and his appeal is based on thirty points of concern.
In conversation with Paul Smith, Park Superintendent, we were advised that the source of authority for regulation of the Park is the Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park Act. We asked if that regulation was carved in stone in a way that it could never be changed or was it possible that the Provincial Government could at a future date, change the Act, and therefore, we would be stuck with the Town's bylaws. Yes, this is possible.
This bylaw is a continued concern for all of North Kawartha - including Anstruther now. Anstruther had previously been of the impression that we were not affected because of the exemption.
Back in February, local dockbuilders (including us) became frustrated that their concerns were not being heard by Council so the issue was exposed to clients so they would speak on their own behalf. And -- they did! Our message to clients included 'sound the alarm - our sanctuary is about to be regulated'. Some said -- no -- we are in the Park - we are exempt.
It would appear that we really are not in a bubble and not exempt as we previously understood. Or are we?! After today, it is clear that it is very unclear. It would be a relief if the Mayor and Council would clarify and not wait out the year we have been advised that it could take for the OMB to address the matter.
This has been a very difficult issue for Council to finalize. Residents of North Kawartha had much to say. Many were upset about red tape, fees, forms etc. What is unfolding is everything residents do not want. It is yet to be understood why Council so badly wants what the residents do not want. Residents want it simplified. It is anything but.
As noted previously, docks will be the legacy of this Council.