INNISFIL DISTRICT ASSOCIATION
Submission to the Town of Innisfil re “Our Shores” Document
Following the release of the draft of the “Our Shores” document Innisfil District Association asked our members to provide input on the proposed document. We had three goals in mind: to inform our members that the shoreline document was being created; to identify concerns of our members; and to encourage members to send their individual and specific concerns to staff and Council.
We received many responses with a variety of opinions concerning specific details in the document. There was, however, some common ground in the responses. A common theme in the responses was the importance of protecting fish and wildlife habitats, and of minimizing negative impacts on the shoreline.
On- Land Boathouses:
The majority of respondents were in favour of allowing on-land boathouses as drafted. Some respondents wanted specific modifications to the draft plan with differing opinions on lot sizes, minimum and maximum lot frontages and size of boathouses.
We had a concern regarding:
- The proposal to allow the boathouse to project one metre into the lake. We suggest that the on-land boathouse be set back 1-2 metres from the high water mark to allow for a natural corridor along the lake. This natural corridor would allow an unimpeded natural habitat for birds and animals that utilize the shoreline. Boats could then arrive to the boathouse via a seasonal marine railway that would be removed in the off-season.
- When you have a cottage on Lake Simcoe, the view is one of the most important benefits and ways of enjoying the lake. We are asking that the “Our Shores” plan provide assurances that there is no visual obstruction of sight lines to neighbouring properties by newly constructed on-land boathouses.
- How many potential boathouse permits could be issued?
- How many waterfront properties are there in Innisfil?
The surface of the lake is a publically-owned resource for the enjoyment of all residents. Lake Simcoe has a negligible tradition of on-water boathouses. A majority of respondents are opposed to the construction of on-water boathouses.
Protecting wildlife and habitats:
- There have been studies linking the negative effects of on- water boathouses on fish habitats and spawning grounds.
- Permanent shadows over the lake bed can create zones where lake dwellers will not swim and vegetation won’t grow.
- There could be a reduction in the habitat for near shore minnows which are an important food source for migratory birds.
Flow of water, erosion, deposition:
- Many permanent over-water docks have permanent artificial shoals as part of that construction. These shoals affect water flow and redirect water, often causing erosion or sand deposition on neighbouring properties. Permitting the construction of on-water boathouses often goes hand in hand with the construction of more of these artificial shoals.
- On- water boathouses often block sight lines of the view of the lake for neighbouring properties. The lowest possible height of the boathouse and further set-backs must be a priority so there is to be no obstruction of view of the lake for neighbours.
- If the entrance to an on- water boathouse is oriented for a boat to arrive and exit the boathouse parallel to the shore, there is a concern for safety of swimmers on neighbouring properties as the boat enters and exits the boathouse parallel to the shoreline.
- Proposed overall size of on- water boathouses are too big on the larger lots (46-60 m and greater than 60m)
- In rare circumstances where topography, such as high shorelines on Kempenfelt Bay where there is little possibility of building on-shore boathouses, special consideration may be given for over water boathouses. This should happen in very limited circumstances.
There was also some confusion as to why gazebos and canopies are to be banned from docks, but on-water boathouses were being considered.
Opinions were varied on dock lengths and total areas.
- There was concern over numerous long docks extending along the shoreline as an impediment to everyone’s recreational use of the lake. However, special consideration should be given to longer temporary dock lengths, in areas where there is very shallow water. This should be examined on a site-specific basis. Safety concerns for the navigation of small craft such as kayaks, canoes, paddle boats, SUP boards should be considered (especially for children) as they are forced into deeper water.
- The configurations of docks should have some flexibility as long as they don’t create a safety hazard to other watercraft and swimmers.
- Before issuing permits to build permanent shoals or break walls, consideration should be given as to how they affect the flow of water, wave action, erosion and deposition and alter fish habitats.
- Guidelines for 25% of the property for access to the lake and 75 % to remain natural seem reasonable to protect the shoreline and the health of the lake.
- Fill placement, removal, lot grading, and alteration restrictions should remain as they appear in the “Our Shores” document
- Once a new property has been constructed and complies with the naturalization of shoreline, please ensure that there is a periodic review of compliance.
- Residents were concerned that some installations on shore such as canopies, gazebos, and hot tubs should not require a permit
- If permits are required for anything related to the shoreline, they should be free and available on-line.
- Residents expressed concern about the need for separate a system of Community Planning Permits for the waterfront, when we already have a system in place with zoning bylaws for all residents. Will C.P.P’s allow residents a mechanism to appeal decisions that are made by staff or council?
These are some of the concerns that were shared by members. IDA members with individual opinions and concerns were encouraged to contact council and planning staff with their specific concerns.
Ross Pityk, President
Innisfil District Association
15 February 2017