Land Use Regulation

Submitted by lwrawebmaster on Sun, 12/15/2019 - 14:23

Official Plans

            There are two Official Plans governing the watershed of Lake Waseosa: the official plan of the District of Muskoka and the Town of Huntsville official plan. These plans have established comprehensive policies in great detail regarding development including waterfront development areas with specific water quality objectives for specific lakes.

District of Muskoka Official Plan

            The District of Muskoka Official Plan was approved on June 17, 1991 and was amended and consolidated in January 2002. It is applied throughout the District of Muskoka. 


            The overall objective as set out in Section B of this Plan is to protect the forests, lakes and natural landscapes of Muskoka and to maintain the quality of its environment.  Development will be based on the principle of carrying capacity to ensure that the quality of the environment will be maintained.


            Section F of this Plan deals with the management of the environment and how it would be influenced by development.  The factors that would influence any development that would have an effect on the environment would be water quality, the topography of the land and its susceptibility to flooding and physical constraints such as the presence of wetlands.


            This section, in short, encourages the protection of the environment.  Section F2.1 provides for circumstances under which development may proceed on the lakes that are at development capacity. 


Section F 12.1 states that the Water Quality Objective for Lake Waseosa is established at 4.2 ug/L for chlorophyll a and has a restrictive sensitivity.


            The following policy applies to lakes in this category:


"...this lake has a reached capacity and development is severely restricted.  In general no new lot creation will be permitted.  Exceptions will be made where it can be demonstrated that there will be no additional nutrient loading to the lake as a result of the development..."


However, the policies in the Official Plan allow for consideration of development on specific properties on lakes that otherwise are at capacity, provided there is no additional nutrient loading on the lake.


Section F.15 expands on Section F.12.1:

            New lot creation shall only be permitted where it can be determined that the water quality of the lake will not be further impaired.  Specifically, the following circumstances amongst others will be considered:


15.2: Where improved septic system technology or lot layout and design can effectively eliminate nutrient impacts on water quality; or

15.3 Where it can be demonstrated that the leaching bed can be located in a separate watershed that is not at capacity.


            The water quality objective for Lake Waseosa as stated above is established at 4.2 ug/L chlorophyll-A, which has a restrictive sensitivity and phosphorus content. The District policy for this type of lake prevents the creation of new lots on this lake unless it can be demonstrated that no additional nutrient loading will occur as a result of further development.


            This Official Plan deals with the following matters:


a.       Land use and strategic planning policies with an emphasis on density which would be higher in urban areas and lower in waterfront and rural areas

b.      Protection of the environment by establishing policies with respect to the use and management of natural resources which would encourage and sustain tourism throughout the area

c.       Development on lakes that are at capacity under specific circumstances.  Throughout the years the District has established a comprehensive program dealing primarily with water quality objectives for many of its lakes and not on other matters such as natural characteristics and sources.


            In 1980 a study was prepared for the District entitled "Cottage Carrying Capacities for Fifty Lakes in the District Municipality of Muskoka" which dealt with Lake Trophic States and Fisheries which contained detailed and specific scientific data relating to these lakes including natural phosphorus supply, chlorophyll-a content hydrology, morphometry, flushing rates and annual sustainable yield of sport fish species.


            It should be noted that in this study Lake Waseosa was only one of five lakes referred to in the Huntsville area, the others being Clearwater, Fox, Harp and Buck Lakes.


            It should also be noted that Lake Waseosa was the only lake that had a total rating of no permissible or additional cottage units being available for development with only Harp, Buck and Fox Lakes being able to sustain additional cottage development.


            Lake Waseosa had a ranking of 10 out of 12 for those lake trout lakes studied which was considered to be a low rating.


            More recently the District commissioned, prepared and received a series of Draft Plans dated June 2005 for the purpose of establishing an up-to-date Lake System Health Program and to further update the Muskoka Recreational Water Quality Model by means of revised models.  These plans have not as yet received final approval but contain useful guidelines for future development and in all likelihood will be adopted and followed by the District. 


            These Draft Plans are the following:


1.                  Recreational Water Quality Management in Muskoka

2.                  Recreational Water Quality Management in Muskoka Lake System Health Implementation Program Discussion Paper

3.                  Lake System Health Program Implementation Strategy

4.                  Recreational Water Quality Management in Muskoka Lake Classification by Phosphorus Sensitivity


            The plans above referred to have developed a system of modeling the impact of phosphorus on recreational water quality, their sensitivity to phosphorus, and their eventual effect on shoreline development.


            These latest Draft Plans of June 2005 include information on Lake Waseosa, Ripple, Palette, and Jessop Lakes.


            The following tables are part of the Draft Plans above referred to:


  • Lake Classification by Sensitivity Assessment and Threshold Calculation
  • Lake Classification by Phosphorus Sensitivity


            The water quality model allows lakes to be classified based on their sensitivity to phosphorus inputs which can be caused by natural sources or by human habitation or both, the details of which are more particularly described in Appendix B5.


            Lakes have been classified as having low, moderate or high sensitivity to phosphorus inputs and have also been classified as having an acceptable threshold for phosphorus content.


The following data for the lakes covered by this Lake Plan have been extracted from the Table headed "Sensitivity Assessment and Threshold Calculation" contained in the Plan entitled "Recreational Water Quality Management in Muskoka" (See Appendix B6).

















            The Lake System Health Program Implementation Strategy (Draft Plan 2006) referred to above has classified lakes according to their sensitivity to phosphorus loadings and their level of phosphorus (in relation to what is estimated to be their "natural" phosphorus loadings).   Those that are relevant to these lakes are briefly described below.


Over Threshold - Moderate Sensitivity


            For lakes in this category (e.g., Lake Waseosa), area municipalities may choose not to permit any new lot creation where the implementation costs (to the town) are too high and where any development cannot be effectively controlled or monitored.


If development were to be allowed, the plan recommends that before development is contemplated or approved, the area municipality should implement a Development Permit System, a Site Alteration By-law and Trees By-law and a site evaluation permit, as these are the only methods that appear to be available to municipalities for development purposes.  In addition, a site assessment should be required for site suitability for ground water and overland water flow and for the installation of any type of septic system technology. The purpose is to ensure that there is effectively no further impairment to the lake.


Moderate Sensitivity


            Development should proceed by consent or site plan agreement to address specific site issues that may impact on water quality.


            A Summary of Policy Table 1, contained in the Lake System Health Implementation Program Discussion Paper, categorizes the requirements for developments on the over threshold and high, moderate and low sensitivity (see Appendix B6).

Huntsville Official Plan

This Plan contains a number of sections, which were in force at the time this Lake Plan was created:


Waterfront - Section B


            Section B. prohibits new lot creation on Lake Waseosa since it has reached its development capacity from a trophic state perspective.


            The Huntsville Official Plan has a lake specific policy for Waseosa Lake, as follows.


Section B - The water quality objective (chlorophyll a) for Waseosa Lake is established at 4.2 micrograms per litre.


Section B -                     New vacant lot creation shall be prohibited


            New lot creation is prohibited because the lake's objective has already been reached.  This restriction was established on the premise that phosphorus loading from new sewage disposal systems could have a negative impact on the lake's trophic state.  However, if an applicant can demonstrate that new development would not negatively alter downgradient water quality, then the rationale for no new lot creation would be reviewed.


            Section 9.2.1 of the official plan provides direction as to the contents of a site evaluation report.  It states as follows.


9.2.1        Where required elsewhere in this Plan, a site evaluation report should address, where appropriate, the following matters, amongst others:


a)      an analysis of the physical terrain characteristics and capability of the affected lands to sustain the proposed development including:


i)        slope description;

ii)      depth of overburden;

iii)    soil type and level of compaction;

iv)    drainage characteristics;

v)      water table level.


b)     identification of environmentally sensitive area, including the following:


i)        fish spawning and nursery areas;

ii)      waterfowl production and staging areas;

iii)    significant biological areas (upland game, deer habitat, and important wetlands).


c)      an assessment of how constraints to development can be reasonably and effectively addressed

d)     a general description of the area affected and its location in the watershed or drainage basin;

e)      the effect of the proposal on the trophic status of the affected waterbody or waterbodies.


Section B - 4.3 deals with Areas of Use Limitation


Section 4.3.1 - defines this category as land with inherent physical or environmental hazards that make them unsuitable for many active land uses including the placement of permanent structures.


Section 4.3.2 - hereinafter referred to deals with the classes of areas of use limitation such as lands subject to periodic or seasonal flooding, areas of erosion and slope instability and lands with slopes steeper than 20 percent and with other classes of use limitation.


The balance of the section deals with certain requirements that must be met by an application prior to receiving approval by the appropriate governing authority such as the Ministry of Natural Resources and the area municipality.


Such requirements could include the following in order to demonstrate how the above referred to constraints could be overcome.


a.       detailed flood plain mapping where lands are subject to periodic or seasonal flooding or areas of organic swampy soils

b.      submission of a Site Evaluation Report which relates to lands with slopes steeper than 20 percent or areas of slope instability or erosion


The following is the actual text of Section 4.3 entitled "Areas of Use Limitation"


4.3 -             Areas of Use Limitation


4.3.1 -             Areas of Use Limitation are defined as lands with inherent physical or environmental hazards that make them unsuitable for many active land uses, including the placement of permanent structures.


4.3.2 -             The following lands shall be classified as Areas of Use Limitation:


a.       lands subject to periodic or seasonal flooding;

b.      areas with water tables within 1.5 metres (5 feet) of the surface including areas of organic swampy soils;

c.       areas of erosion or slope instability;

d.      lands with slopes steeper than 20 percent and more than 1.5 metres (5 feet) of overburden;

e.       unstable or inadequate soils or lack of soil cover; and

f.        lands with slopes steeper than 20 percent.


Potential Areas of Use Limitation are illustrated in Appendix 1, Map 1 to this Plan.  This map has been developed from detailed terrain information at a scale of four inches to the mile.  Detailed technical maps are available for inspection at the Town Office.[1]


4.3.3 -             In addition, shore lands abutting sensitive fish spawning areas of weed beds as identified by the Ministry of Natural Resources shall be considered as Areas of Use Limitation.  Generally, development shall only be permitted within such areas where it would not cause serious degradation to such habitat.


4.3.4 - Specific land shall be identified as part of Areas of Use Limitation only after a site inspection by the appropriate authorities.


4.3.5 -            For classes (a) and (b) of Areas of Use Limitation and lands identified in Section 4.3.4 herein, only Open Space activities shall be permitted unless the constraints to development can be overcome to the satisfaction of the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Area Municipality.   No buildings or structures, nor the placing or removing of fill whether originating on site or elsewhere shall be permitted except with the approval of the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Area Municipality and where required upon the submission of a Site Evaluation Report that demonstrates how the constraint can be overcome.  Where required, detailed floodplain mapping shall be undertaken by the applicant or owner of the property for which development is proposed.      


4.3.6 -             For classes (c), (d) and (e) of Areas of Use Limitation, new development may be permitted if the physical constraints to development can be overcome to the satisfaction of the Area Municipality and where required the submission of a Site Evaluation Report that demonstrates how the constraint can be overcome.


4.3.7 -            For Class (f) of Area of Use Limitation, the Area Municipality may require that development be set back from the top of the bank and/or that an increased lot frontage and/or area be imposed.  A Site Evaluation Report may be required prior to development proceeding on a lot with steep slopes.


4.3.8 -            Building setbacks may be imposed from the margins of Areas of Use Limitation in relation to the kind, extent and severity of the existing and potential constraints.

Huntsville Zoning By-Law

            This by-law was originally prepared in 1974 and has received a number of updates as recently as 1993.  This by-law deals with these three categories (among others):


1.                  Residential Zones

2.                  General Standards

3.                  Site Plan Control


1.            Residential Zones

            Establishes requirements for minimum lot frontage, private cabins, maximum residential lot coverage, family compounds, dock and boathouse width, and front and side yard setbacks.


2.            General Standards

            This by-law defines height on the side of the building where principal access is maintained -- usually the road access to the property, which could have a negative impact on the shoreline side of the property.  It also deals with septic system and shoreline setbacks.


3.         Site Plan Control

            This is an agreement that is registered on title between a municipality and a developer and provides notice to future purchasers of lands with respect to certain restrictions and conditions that apply to a particular property.


            It is recommended that the Town of Huntsville should require Site Plan controls and Site Plan evaluations for all developments which are located close to sensitive wetland and lake areas or which have physical features such as steep slopes and/or thin soils so as to protect these areas and their surrounding characteristics. 


            The Town of Huntsville has not yet enacted zoning by-laws which can be used to control and protect sensitive environment areas such as fish habitats, wetlands or loon nesting areas.


            There is at present no Development Permit System in place in the Town of Huntsville that could assist in lake planning activities.  This could be a useful tool in solving environmental issues associated with shoreline development and specific environmental site areas, which may be difficult to deal with by regular planning methods.     

The Planning Act (Ontario)


            This Act provides for the regulation of land use by the employment of planning techniques that allow for the subdivision of properties in such a manner that they will conform in a compatible manner with surrounding lands and areas.


            Section 51 (26) of the Planning Act which deals with site plan agreement reads as follows:


Agreements - "A municipality or approval authority, or both, may enter into agreements imposed as a condition to the approval of a plan of subdivision and the agreements may be registered against the land to which it applies and the municipality or the approval authority, as the case may be, is entitled to enforce the provisions of it against the owner and, subject to the Registry Act and the Land Titles Act, any and all subsequent owners of the land."


            The Town of Huntsville has, from time to time, used this section in certain planning and severance applications and situations on a case-by-case basis. However, since this section is permissive rather than mandatory the Planning Department of a municipality such as Huntsville may choose not to require compliance with this section by a developer.


            Accordingly, there is no guarantee that this section will be invoked or required in a more difficult severance or development application. This Lake Plan, therefore, recommends that such site plans be mandatory and that an applicant be required to file a site plan agreement under Section 51 (26) of the Planning Act prior to, or contemporaneous with, the filing of an application for severance with the Town. By doing this, the Town will be able to make an informed decision on the severance or development application and, in the case of approval, it will give the Town and the developer a clear set of rules that need to be followed.


[1] [sic] Quoted verbatim from the original. The maps referred to are not included in this Lake Plan

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