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Municipal Structure and Coastal Protection

Municipal Structure & Coastal Protection 

There are 5 coastal municipalities along the east and north coasts of Georgian Bay (+ the east end of the North Channel – Bay of Islands) where GBA’s member associations and the world’s largest archipelago of inland lake islands are located:

One of the greatest potential environmental threats to this part of Georgian Bay comes from the growing development pressures emanating from the GTA and the consistent and growing demand for residences in the area. This demand is not just for seasonal residences – increasingly Ontarians are looking to live or retire in the area, primarily where there is road access to the property.

Over development not only ruins the esthetics but threatens water quality and habitat. There is therefore a need to ensure that all development is conducted responsibly and carefully in accordance with the Official Plans, Bylaws and Community Plans that govern the coast. Minimum island and lot sizes regulations must be strictly enforced and multi-residential developments avoided.

One of the actions taken by GBA has been to form a coastal protection committee with participation from the coastal municipalities.


Protecting Georgian Bay’s nature, lands, waters, and  environment lie at the core of GBA’s mandate. That is also a key goal of the official plans of municipalities along the coast. And is central to the mandates of other Georgian Bay  organizations. The eastern and northern coasts are the most environmentally pristine areas of the Great Lakes south of Lake Superior. Our region is a World Biosphere Reserve recognized by UNESCO, but it is increasingly threatened by development pressures that pervade southern Ontario. The Committee has made responding to development threats its top priority issue.


Since 1975 GBA has been involved in various discussions and initiatives to determine the optimum municipal structure to protect the east and north shores of Georgian Bay (see map), primarily from development and other pressures which could undermine planning regulations designed to protect the environment. Copies of the various reports and papers issued over time can be found below, starting with the most recent:

  1. GBA Status Update summarizing action following the Ontario government’s initial announcement in late 2018 on municipal reviews and its October 25 announcement that it will not impose changes
  2. Ontario Government Announcement on Municipalities- October 25, 2019 regarding support for municipalities to determine how they themselves can become more efficient and effective
  3. Uniting the Coast UPDATE article September 2019
  4. Township of the Archipelago (ToA) Submission to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) – August 2019
  5. GBA Draft Position Paper on the Potential to Create a Coastal Municipality – July 16 2019
  6. Township of Georgian Bay Restructure Report by Professor Bob Williams – July 2019 commissioned by concerned citizens in the Township of the Georgian Bay (TGB) addressing municipal structure for TGB finalized in June and released in July 2019
  7. TOA and TGB Restructuring Proposal to MMAH – Oct 2000
  8. TOA Strategy for our Future – June 1996
  9. Vision 2020  – Final Version 1996  from Norman Pearson
  10. Vision 2020 draft – March 1996 by the Greater Bay Area Foundation (now Georgian Bay Forever)
  11. The Archipelago Municipality Report – April 1977 by Norman Pearson
  12. Environmental Control and Planning Report for SSCA – April 1975 by Norman Pearson, commissioned by SSCA


GBA weighs in on Review of District of Muskoka Council Composition

In support of the GBA associations in the Township of Georgian Bay (TGB), GBA has written to the district to ask that the review confirms 3 councilors from each of the 6 municipalities (+ the Chair) all with an equal vote, in order to ensure that seasonal residents are properly represented on the district council. Read GBA letter here.


The District Municipality of Muskoka is currently governed by a 23 member Council consisting of a District Chair, who is elected directly by District Council, the Mayors of the six Area Municipalities, and 16 District Councilors, who also sit on the Area Municipal Councils, three of these from each municipality, except Lake of Bays and Georgian Bay, who only have two.

There is a requirement under Section 218(6) of the Municipal Act to review the number of members that represent lower-tier municipalities at the upper-tier municipal level. The direction this started to take was to reduce the current 23 to 12 + the chair, 2 from each municipality, which for TGB would have been the mayor + (almost certainly) the current inland councilor. For the other municipalities in the district it was also recognized that the district would have become dominated by permanent residents, leaving seasonal residents under-represented. Following several submissions to the district the needle has moved towards 18 + the chair, so 3 from each municipality, i.e. unchanged for TGB.

The other issue is to reject the concept of unequal weighting – councilors representing seasonal residents only having half a vote.

Find more details here:

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