Wednesday February 15: public meeting on Innisfil’s sweeping changes to shoreline rules
Photo by Tony Bellissimo
Innisfil proposes sweeping changes to shoreline building rules
By Lindsay Histrop Lake Simcoe Association
Lake Simcoe area residents are alerted to the Town of Innisfil planning department’s proposed new official plan which, if passed by Council, will allow the construction of large over-water boathouses and permanent docks on Lake Simcoe. The information is available online at: bit.ly/TOI-OurShore. A public hearing will take place Feb. 15, at 5:45 p.m. at the Town Hall. (There is a Drop-in Session at 4:45-5:45pm, before the public meeting.)
These are serious and sweeping changes to the current Town of Innisfil by-laws which generally do not permit boathouses to project into the water more than 1 metre. The proposed new plans will allow boathouses that project over the water up to 10 times that length, to up to 10 metres or 33 feet off shore. The proposed plan suggests that over-water structures up to 50-percent larger than the permitted maximum may be approved by Council. That could mean an over-water boathouse of up to 135 square metres or nearly 1,500 square feet.
What are the potential concerns?
-Permanent over water structures take Crown lake property away from the public for the benefit of private landowners
-Paddle boards and other paddle craft must navigate around these structures, into potentially dangerous higher winds and waves
-Swimmer safety is threatened by boats entering and exiting over water boathouses oriented parallel to shore
-Biologists caution that the permanent shadow cast over the lake bed and shore line kills marine vegetation creating a dead zone under which lake dwellers will not swim
-MNR’s “A Landowner’s Guide to Healthy Shoreline Management for Lake Simcoe” cautions against dock surfaces that block the sunlight
-Pile driving deep into the lake bed rearranges the distribution of sediments, and disrupts aquatic life
the movement of sediment (littoral drift) may be altered by over-water structures.
-Building over spawning grounds threatens fish populations
-Artificial dock and boathouse night lighting confuses marine life
-Winter aerating of permanent over water boathouses to prevent freezing disrupts the ecosystem
-Long term effect on fish, water fowl and other lake dwellers is unknown
-Natural beauty of the shoreline will be permanently blemished by over lake boathouses
-Neighbouring views and sight lines may be affected, leading to lowered property values
-Man-made shoals built to calm waves under over water boathouses will impact erosion, deposition and debris accumulation on neighbouring beachfronts
-Permanent storage of boats, engine oil, fuel and hydraulic lift equipment in over open water leads to risk of pollution from accidental spills
-Leaching of building toxins such as wood stain and paint contaminate the lake water
-Decommissioning of abandoned piers – who will pay to remove potentially dangerous decaying and broken piers
-Many other Ontario cottage country municipalities passed by laws last summer prohibiting over-water boathouses, after a Superior Court decision confirmed that municipalities have jurisdiction to regulate building over Crown lakes.
If you agree or disagree that permanent over-water docks and boathouses should be allowed in Innisfil’s Lake Simcoe, contact the local Councillor, phone 705-436-3740 x3328 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org and attend the public meeting Feb. 15, 2017.
Lindsay Histrop is a Toronto lawyer whose family has cottaged on Lake Simcoe at Innisfil since 1912.