A debate over property alteration between a Muskoka Lakes property owner and Township councillors became heated during the last council meeting.
Council was debating an appeal to an Order to Remedy regarding the tree conservation and site alteration bylaw.
Rob Kennedy, Muskoka Lakes Chief Municipal Law Enforcement Officer, told council that on June 16, 2023, bylaw received a complaint regarding property standards issues with a residence on Armstrong Point Road in Port Carling. Kennedy said staff investigated and found numerous property standards violations but also violations of the tree cutting and site alteration bylaws. Specifically, Kennedy said they found some 20-25 trees had been taken down within 200 m of the Indian River, and a pathway had been constructed along the river’s edge with crushed stone. Kennedy said he suspected the pathway had been cleared and there were indications of heavy machinery being used.
As a result, Township staff issued orders to the property owner to install a sedimentation fence along the riverbank to mitigate shoreline erosion, create a renaturalization plan and re-plant the affected areas.
The owner, Sandra Fawcett, countered that she shouldn’t have to take those steps as she didn’t do any of the damage staff had indicated.
“I’m a nature lover and I love trees,” she said.
Fawcett said the pathway had existed since before they had owned the property and the stone was simply put down to help prevent erosion.
“Everything that was done…was normal property maintenance,” she said. “What we did was not outside of the bylaw.”
She added that most of the trees had been cut down by Hydro One following a storm. Fawcett appeared increasingly frustrated with the process before she was ultimately told her time was up.
Council voted unanimously to uphold the Order to Remedy. Other matters regarding the property are currently in court.
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