Province backtracks on proposed changes for floating accommodations

·2 min read

North Kawartha Township’s deputy mayor is “disappointed” the province has backtracked on policy proposals that would have seen changes to floating accommodation rules for local waterways.

“I think we should send a very strongly worded response on this one,” said Jim Whelan at a recent township council meeting.

“We’re very disappointed that the things (Peterborough) county and the township very much supported have all disappeared.”

Municipalities in the county received a letter dated Feb. 24 from the province saying it was proposing to make seven changes to rules surrounding floating accommodations such as barges and shipping containers that stay in the same spot or close by over the summer months on local waterways.

Some of the changes involved reduced distances from shorelines and shortened times allowed in one location.

The proposals were supported by Peterborough County council and other townships, including North Kawartha.

Then a letter, dated March 17, arrived from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry stating all seven changes in the original posting have been removed.

“In the updated proposal, we are still proposing to amend Ontario Regulation 161/17 to clarify the structures or things that cannot be placed and used for overnight accommodation on water over public land,” it said.

Carolyn Amyotte, mayor of North Kawartha Township, said county council had discussed and supported the original changes, and “our conversation probably would have been a lot different if we’d had the update that was sent last week.”

“They pulled all seven out because they were really wanting to focus on the definition and the clarity around what is a floating accommodation versus a boat,” she said.

Amyotte said it’s important that they clarify and update the definition around floating accommodations versus boats, “but I would support the province also looking at or further examining those proposed changes that were in the original letter.”

Coun. Colin McLellan said he supports boats used for navigating rather than “a full structure that would basically be left on the water.”

County townships with waterfront properties have been wrestling with problems caused by short-term rentals of cottages which often result in complaints by neighbours about noise and partying.

County councillors have expressed concerns that the same thing might happen with stationary floating accommodations.

North Kawartha Township asked staff to send a response asking the province to reconsider looking at the seven changes identified in the original letter.

Brendan Burke is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.

Brendan Burke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner