MLA Comments on Hannas Landing Application

The following letter was submitted to the Township of Muskoka Lakes Planning Committee from the MLA:


August 15, 2013

Township of Muskoka Lakes
P.O. Box 129, 1 Bailey Street,
Port Carling Ontario
P0B 1J0

Attn: Planning Committee of the Whole

Dear Chairman  Burgess and Members of Planning Committee:

Re:      Hanna’s Landing Inc.
            Zoning By-law amendment application ZBA 10/13
            Port Carling

The development of Hanna’s Landing for approximately 400 new homes and the approval to extend the boundaries of Port Carling to include Hanna’s Landing in the urban area,  is one of the most significant applications in the township. The change from waterfront and rural lands to
urban for the creation of a new residential community will change the complexion of Port Carling, favouring development on the east side of Port Carling ,  and impacting the Indian River and Mirror Lake waterfront.

Muskoka Lakes Association’s involvement

As you know, the Muskoka Lakes Association ( MLA ) appealed the previous council’s decision to include these lands within the urban boundary to ensure that the policies that will be implemented for Hannas Landing will continue to recognize and be sensitive to its location on the
waterfront adjacent to existing waterfront cottages. 

We have read planning staff’s report and acknowledge our participation in the lengthy negotiations resulting in the revisions to site specific Official Plan policies of the previous council and the decisions of the OMB as shown on pages 90 to 100 of the staff report.

The applicants for Hannas Landing have submitted a zoning by-law amendment to rezone the lands in accordance with the revised Official Plan.

At the May 21st,  Planning Committee meeting, the MLA expressed concerns about the rezoning application. We  stated that there was insufficient information with which to move forward. At that meeting, committee requested that the applicant provide more detailed information regarding the proposed development and the  zoning by-law amendment,  prior to the township staff circulating  the rezoning application to the effected agencies and township staff for comments and evaluation. 

Zoning by-law amendment application process

Since May 2013, the applicants have submitted a draft concept plan laying out a potential development scenario for these lands.  That concept plan has NOT yet been reviewed by any of the appropriate agencies, and not all questions asked by residents and councillors at the May 21st meeting have been answered.

Planning staff have included in their report of August 15, 2013  a draft zoning by-law setting out the potential land uses and zoning standards for the Hanna’s Landing property as requested by the applicant.

Staff’s draft zoning by-law is not accompanied by a map (a schedule) identifying the blocks of land to which the different zones apply.  An incomplete potential  zoning by-law has been included in the staff report. The map required to accompany the zoning by-law text will, when
complete, identify the  parcels of land and their  boundaries, within each zoning category.. This cannot be done until a plan of subdivision is submitted identifying the location and dimensions of the individual blocks of land effected. At that time, the land uses are confirmed and the density and number of dwelling units  are established.

It is the MLA’s position that the zoning by-law amendment cannot be finalized until a plan of subdivision has been submitted to identify the legal boundaries of the zoning blocks. 

A plan of subdivision is also required in order to legally create and deed to the township the required municipal public road.

Planning staff partially acknowledge this omission of a complete by-law  as it pertains to the neighbourhood commercial zone(s) and requests the applicant to identify the requested commercial zone(s), their location and boundaries.

The proposed zoning by-law contains other omissions. 


If council determines that it wants to exercise its right to take land in fulfillment of the planning acts requirement for parkland, council needs to communicate the preferred  location of the park to the developers. The  specific block of land to become the public park should be zoned for park uses,  not for residential uses.

The MLA has  read the letter from the president of Hanna’s Landing Inc. reproduced on page 165 of the staff report with respect to the park issue.

We point out to council that Hanna’s Landing is intended to be a residential community of the same size as the existing residential community in Port Carling. Residents from the proposed 400 plus homes should not be expected to compete for park space with existing residents,
they deserve their own parkland, nor should the existing residents of Port Carling be expected to share their parks by the addition of over 1,200 new residents. 

Whether the park is an active park with swings, sports fields, etc, or a passive park for the passive recreational enjoyment of the natural beauty of Muskoka is a decision to be made by council . We know that in this term of office, this council has already acquired two sites of
natural beauty, scenic waterfalls which are or will be equipped with picnic benches, as public parkland. We applaud  the long term thinking of this council to retain in public ownership areas of natural beauty, parks,  in Muskoka for the enjoyment of its residents and future generations.

Council needs to consider whether the Knoll should similarly be preserved as public lands for the enjoyment of its residents and future generations. If council so decides, the Knoll should be zoned as park on the proposed zoning schedule.

Environmental concerns and facilities

Concern about the effect of urbanization on the natural environment has become more prevalent since the last major residential subdivision development was approved in Port Carling. Provincial standards have changed and concern about the water quality of Ontario’s lakes has increased.

It is expected that a stormwater management pond will be required to detain and cleanse the storm water generated by the runoff from the 400 houses and  hard pavement of the streets prior to the water being released into Mirror Lake and the Indian River. The stormwater management pond should be identified and zoned as an environmental protection area, not as a residential zone.

Number of dwelling units

The concept plan estimates the construction of  some 405 homes not the 295 to 330 homes identified in the board agreement, see page 4, page 93 of the staff report. When the areas set aside for parkland, commercial uses, a public road, a stormwater management pond as well as lands unsuitable for development because of their steep slopes are deducted from the residential  density calculations, the total number of residential units may  approximate those considered by the OMB.  The plan of subdivision will identify an accurate number of dwelling units.  

First row of residential dwellings 

The Township’s Official Plan (OP)  has specific policies for Hanna’s Landing as well as general OP policies. Compliance with all OP policies is required in the approval of  a zoning by-law. 

The site specific OP policies for Hannas Landing designated the residential units closest to Mirror Lake and the Indian River  as low density, with medium and high density residential lots designated as the property moves away from the waterfront up the hill to Highway 118.  Section C 11 2.3 of the Urban Center policies for Port Carling states that “in general, the following minimum new lot standards will be required for new single family detached dwellings, (on sewer and water)  lot area of 5500 sq ft and lot frontage of 50 ft.”

Policy C.16.2 states that lots closer to the shoreline should be larger than the minimum50 ft frontage . “Where the shoreline development in the Urban Centre designation is in proximity to the shoreline development in the Waterfront designation the lot frontages shall be increased
to be more compatible with those in the waterfront designation”. 

Lands on both sides of Hanna’s Landing contain cottages on lots exceeding 100 ft in frontage . There was much discussion at the OMB hearing about the character of the waterfront in this location, the need to be sensitive to its character and maintain lots of sufficient frontage as to be compatible with existing development. The MLA request that council consider lots with a minimum frontage of 100 feet for the first row of housing adjacent to existing cottage lots.   

Building setbacks 

The applicant is proposing reduced building setbacks from the property lines, in particular a reduced front yard setback of 16 ft rather than 25 ft and a rear yard setback of 16 ft rather than 25 feet. No rationale for the reduced setbacks has been given. If a front yard setback of 16 ft is approved, this will not allow a car to be parked on the driveway in front of the house/garage without overhanging the street, as a car parking space generally exceeds 16 ft. Approval of such a reduction will cause future problems for the residents.


In summary, the MLA no longer objects to the circulation of this application to the appropriate agencies in order to obtain their comments. Circulation of the zoning by-law amendment application does not mean that the MLA is in support of the zoning application as presently
proposed. There is much work to be done before this property can be zoned and development proceed. A plan of subdivision is needed to identify the zoning parcels as well as provide for the public street.

In addition,  the MLA recommends that the applicant initiate meetings with the District regarding the servicing requirements, agreements and allocations that need to be considered before any approvals can be given and the clauses to be included in the Holding Zone are finalized.

The MLA also recommends that the applicant discuss the location and alignment of the township public road with the township engineer and fire department. This road is the township’s responsibility;  initially to approve its location,  alignment and  construction, and ultimately after assumption of the plan of subdivision’s  roads and public services, its maintenance.

The MLA does not agree with the applicant that the addition of one more public road in a town that already has numerous public roads for the benefits of its residents is an inappropriate use of taxpayers dollars. No doubt the new residents in Hanna’s Landing will be paying taxes to the township, contributing to the overall tax base.

In our opinion, the approval of the zoning by-law cannot be finalized until a plan of subdivision has been considered which will identify the legal boundaries of the residential blocks in each zoning category as well as the boundaries of the public road, the park block, the storm water management block and the commercial block(s). As it now exists, the draft zoning by-law is incomplete.

Finally, as stated, the MLA has concerns  with some of the zoning standards proposed especially as it affects the size of lots in the first row of housing from the waterfront and the building setback provisions.

The MLA is interested in moving forward and looks forward to participating in the next step of approvals for this significant development in Port Carling.

Please continue to inform the MLA when any applications regarding Hanna’s Landing and /or the lands within the Port Carling East Side expansion are being considered by the Township of Muskoka Lakes.

Thank you. 

Respectfully submitted

Michael Langdon        

Anne McCauley, MCIP, RPP
Director and Chair of the Political and Land Use Committee