As you contemplate upcoming cottage projects, we would encourage you to think about the “principles” that underlie the planning process for the Township of Muskoka Lakes. There is general agreement in Muskoka that “the environment is the economy”. Almost the whole of Muskoka’s economy depends on maintaining a sustainable natural environment that will continue to delight seasonal residents and tourists. The principles set out below are included in the Official Plans of the Township of Muskoka Lakes and the District of Muskoka and underlie maintaining a sustainable natural environment.
Natural Form: Natural Form should Predominate over Built Form. From the water the less one can see of buildings and man-made structures the better.
Shoreline Buffer: The Township’s Zoning By-Law mandates a buffer of natural plants along water courses interrupted only by paths and docks occupying less than 25% of a shoreline. The purpose is visual screening and to filter run-off from properties into a watercourse. Natural filtering by shoreline buffers and wetlands is a key to clean water.
Minimize Hardened Surfaces: To the maximum extent possible, rain and snow should be allowed to seep into the ground naturally to recharge the water table and filter out contaminants. Permeable driveway and path materials (e.g. gravel) encourage natural seepage. In contrast, asphalt or concrete driveways and paths accelerate water runoff into watercourses, carrying with it whatever debris or salt or oil has collected on the hardened surfaces.
“Dark Sky Friendly” Lighting: Outdoor lighting should be shielded at the top and shine down wards, illuminating only what is below it and not shining onto a neighbour’s property.
For more information on “best practices” visit www.muskokaheritage.org/watershed
Our May 2009 presentation to stakeholders is here (3 MB).