March 24, 2023
Township of Lake of Bays 2023 Budget

The 2023 Budget for the Township of Lake of Bays has been set by Council. The total tax levy is $6,378,496 supported by a 6% increase in the tax levy rate and a transfer of $847,067 from reserves. The financial impact on a property assessed at $500,000 is an additional $54.80 in Township tax payable per year.
This compares with the Town of Huntsville's final levy increase of 5.29%. As the Huntsville budget is larger, that results in a levy increase of $105 per $500,000 of assessment. 
In both cases, there are two other levies. The District of Muskoka tax rate will increase by 4.15% or $61.75 per $500,000 of assessment. The provincial education levy has remained unchanged.
Note that the Huntsville levy is augmented by an additional 1.26% for the local share of the funding of the budget reserve for the planned new hospital. The Township of Lake of Bays is still considering the amount of its additional hospital funding levy or when it will start to apply.
As always, the annual budget deliberations involved balancing priorities, including requests for improvements and the rising costs of maintenance of services, roads, and infrastructure, with the appropriate tax increase and good financial management.

During the deliberations of the Council of the Township of Lake of Bays, LOBA submitted a written deputation urging that priority be given to protecting the environment and providing good municipal services within a fiscally responsible budget. LOBA made it clear that its members value Township programs and facilities, and also urged that the Township consider what savings opportunities exist through management of capital spending and improved facilities management. There was support expressed for expenditures needed to recruit and retain priority staff, such as the recently hired Director of Planning. Although it is a comparatively small expenditure, LOBA also supported the addition of a boat for use by the Building/By Law Enforcement Department, as it is past time for the Township to have “ eyes from the lake” when upholding waterfront standards.

The Township budget process was improved over previous years. The proposed budget was better laid out and explained. Two council meetings were fully dedicated to debating the budget. There does continue to be room for more clarity about the costing of initiatives and the use of reserves. See the minutes of all the Council deliberations on the Township website here.

You will find links below to LOBA’s letter to Council in response to the initially proposed draft budget, which was based on a 9.5% tax rate increase, and the Township’s response after completing deliberations. LOBA expresses its appreciation for the leadership of Council and staff in arriving at a reasonable 2023 budget.

2022 Lake of Bays Water Quality Report Now Available

On July 4, August 1 and August 26, 2022, volunteers collected water samples from 23 sites on Lake of Bays including deep water locations, nearshore sites adjacent to developed areas, undeveloped shorelines, at both the Oxtongue and Hollow rivers, and at the Oxtongue Delta. Water clarity was measured and samples from all three dates were analyzed for phosphorus. The August 1 samples were also tested for E. coli and total coliforms. Quality control sampling was increased in 2022 relative to 2021. Ongoing training for volunteers has been enhanced to ensure appropriate protocols are followed with diligence to further reduce sample contamination.
As in previous years, the water quality of Lake of Bays is in good shape. Overall phosphorus concentrations were among the lowest we have recorded at some sampling sites, a phenomenon seen across Muskoka which is likely a result of low rainfall levels in 2022 resulting in less naturally occurring phosphorus in the soil leaching into the lake. Bacteria levels at all testing sites on the lake remain well below Provincial standards for recreational use. This is good news but, despite this, lake water should never be used for drinking unless it is appropriately treated.
The full 2022 Water Quality Report by Hutchinson Environmental Sciences can be downloaded here.

Previous years reports can be downloaded here.
photo by: Carolyn Madonia
Ontario Looks to Change Camping on Water Over Public Lands Regulations

The Provincial government is seeking input on changes to regulations that control camping over public water lands. In recent years, Ontario has seen an increase in the number and types of vessels or structures being used for overnight floating accommodation on Ontario's lakes and rivers.

In March 2022, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry sought input through the Environmental Registry of Ontario (ERO) and the Township of Lake of Bays and LOBA provided comment.

In February 2023 the ERO released a Proposal to amend Ontario Regulation 161/17 to the Public Lands Act to change the requirements related to floating accommodations. There are several proposed changes to regulation 161/17 including clarifying what can be a camping unit on water; what conditions must be met; and harmonizing resident and non-resident camping rules.

To view the proposed changes and provide your comments, click here.

LOBA is consulting with our partners at the Township of Lake of Bays and Muskoka Lakes Association, and will be submitting comments on the proposed changes.

Underused Housing Tax Now in Effect

The Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) instituted an Underused Housing Tax (UHT) last year effective January 1, 2022. The Underused Housing Tax is an annual 1% tax on the ownership of vacant or underused housing in Canada. While it predominantly applies to foreign owners of property in specific locations, other properties, such as vacation properties held in a trust, may also be required to file a return and/or may be subject to UHT. 

From the Federation of Ontario Cottagers' Associations (FOCA) -– If you are an affected owner of a residential property in Canada on December 31, 2022, you must file an Underused Housing Tax return for the preceding calendar year. Even if your ownership of the property qualifies for an exemption and you do not owe any tax, you still must file a return. Consult this government webpage which outlines who is “excluded” and who is “affected” by this tax. The Canadian Revenue Agency has posted the tax form for the Underused Housing Tax.

To read more about the UHT for context go to the Property Taxation Assessment page on the FOCA website and scroll down to Other Taxes & Regulations.
photo by David Fulford
The purpose of the Lake of Bays Association is to promote, sustain and enhance a clean and healthy natural environment, a well-serviced community and a safe and peaceful Lake of Bays.

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