Gravenhurst council has directed administration to investigate and report on the “real and perceived” issues regarding increased boat traffic and public safety at Muskoka Wharf.
The motion, introduced by Deputy Mayor Heidi Lorenz at the July 20 Committee of the Whole meeting expresses concern over the “volume of all forms of boat traffic from both experienced and inexperienced boat operators.”
The motion recognized that the “level of jurisdiction the Town of Gravenhurst has…is limited, but the Town can advocate to the appropriate agencies on behalf of the community.”
Following the reading of the motion, Lorenz said that “things are happening down at the Wharf that people are not happy with. I don’t have the answers, but this is a way to start.”
Councillors met with boat renters and OPP in May and plan to again in the coming weeks.
Coun. Sandy Cairns said she was “grateful something is happening. There have been many boating accidents this year already.”
Lorenz pointed out that there were two other aspects that council would have to consider. First, that “there has been only one official complaint made to council. People say things are happening, but we don’t have data.” The other issue is jurisidiction–Lorenz said “the whole idea of this is to find out what we can do, what can we ask others to do?”
Cairns said that these problems are not unique to just Muskoka Wharf. “These boats are on all our lakes…Gull Lake, I have never seen boat traffic like this, and the jet skis.”
Lorenz replied that this motion was designed specifically to look into Muskoka Wharf, even though it was understood, as Mayor Kelly pointed out that people may rent from Muskoka Wharf but then are trailering to other lakes.
Lorenz emphasized that council does not have the authority to control the waters. “People think we should be able to just do something about jet skis, but we don’t have that power.”
The motion directs administration to report back on options “within the Town’s jurisdiction to alleviate the perceived issues of increased boat traffic and overall public safety at the Muskoka Wharf, including but not limited to informational signage, business licensing, enforcement and public education.”
It also instructs administration to liase with stakeholders including the Gravenhurst Chamber of Commerce, OPP, Safe and Quiet Lakes, the Wharf Board, The Federation of Ontario Cottagers’ Association, Federal Ministry of Transportation and local tourism associations.
The motion passed unanimously.
The next Committee of the Whole and Council meeting will be held on Aug. 10 at 3p.m.
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