Skeleton Lake News

  • 01 Nov 2017 11:09 AM | Tim Lutton (Administrator)

    The District of Muskoka is considering a policy change that will result in an alarming increase in the number of condos and residential communities on the Muskoka waterfront.  In an attempt to preserve Muskoka's "grand resort" tradition, the District’s planners are suggesting that commercial resorts should be allowed to redevelop as residential communities.  The current proposal is that these "hybrid" resorts could designate up to 50% of their units as conventional homes.  The rest would be required to enter a "rental pool" for an undetermined number of weeks per year. 

    The problem is that resorts in Muskoka have special dispensation to build at much higher density than residential communities.  (The District calls this "enhanced density permissions.")  Developers are watching to see if this change goes through.  If it does, we could see new, high-density residential development all over Muskoka, on big lakes and small.

    To further understand what is being proposed, and how in turn you can help, please click here.

    The SLCO Board of Directors 

  • 31 Jul 2017 3:03 PM | Jeff Crocker (Administrator)

    SLCO is continuing preparations for the Lippa Pit/Quarry Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) hearing. Many of you probably have questions about what to expect at an OMB hearing. Here is a brief take on the hearing process from our lawyers at Donnelly Law.

    Hearing Process: While each OMB hearing is unique, aggregate applications generally follow the same process leading up to the hearing.

    • Step 1: The Prehearing Conference. Mr. Lippa filed his appeal on July 10, 2017. The Prehearing conference should be scheduled for a one-day Board attendance within a few months of receiving Mr. Lippa's application. Prehearings deal with procedure and set out a roadmap for the hearing. At the Prehearing, the Board will determine and grant "Party" and "Participant" status.

     It is important to get a good turnout to the Prehearing conference. 

    • Step 2: The Hearing Issues. The parties to the appeal list their "issues" for the hearing. For example, does the application conform with the Township Official Plan? Are negative impacts to Skeleton Lake expected? Will the operation meet Provincial noise limits? Since Mr. Lippa appealed Council's decision, the onus is on Mr. Lippa to prove his application is good planning and complies with planning requirements. 
    • Step 3: Witness Lists and Statements. The parties to the appeal advise each other who they will call to give evidence.  OMB hearings focus mainly on expert evidence. For an aggregate application like this , we can expect to hear from a range of disciplines: land use planning, terrestrial and aquatic ecology, hydrogeology (groundwater), hydrology (surface water), water quality, traffic engineering and safety, cultural heritage, and acoustical engineering.  In advance of the hearing, witnesses are required to produce a witness statement, which is a summary of their professional opinion, key conclusions and recommendations, based on their investigations and analysis.
    • Step 4: Hearing on the Merits. We anticipate this hearing will be 2-3 weeks in length. It is rare for the Provincial Government to intervene and participate in an OMB hearing. SLCO will be asking both the MNRF and MOECC to defend the important environmental features involved in this application, including Skeleton Lake. 


    Role for the Public: Many people are asking how they can get involved and support SLCO for the OMB hearing.

    • Attendance: OMB prehearings and hearings on the merit are open to the public. A hearing day is typically 10 am - 4 pm. We expect the hearing on the merits to be scheduled sometime in Spring 2018, at the earliest.
    • Support SLCO: Let your local Councillor know your position, ask questions about the hearing, or donate to help cover our expert consultant, legal and hearing fees.

    Scott May


    The Skeleton Lake Cottagers Organization

  • 19 Jul 2017 6:46 PM | Jeff Crocker (Administrator)

    As expected, Mr. Frank Lippa is appealing to the Ontario Municipal Board (“OMB”) the decision of the Township of Muskoka Lakes to reject his pit and quarry applications.  The Township has confirmed that Mr. Lippa filed his appeals on July 10, 2017. 

    SLCO and residents turned out in great numbers to the Township of Muskoka Lakes Council meeting on June 16, 2017, to voice their concerns with Mr. Lippa’s Planning Act applications to permit a 200,000 tonnes/year pit and quarry – and it worked. Council voted unanimously to deny Mr. Lippa’s rezoning and Official Plan applications . Thanks to your support, SLCO put forward an evidence-based case for Council to reject the Lippa pit and quarry.

    On June 26, 2017, the Town of Huntsville also voted unanimously to support the Township of Muskoka Lakes’ decision.

    Below, please find information from our lawyer on what to expect with an OMB appeal, and how you can help.

    SLCO expects a contested hearing, as multiple unresolved issues have been identified by our experts, e.g. impacts to Skeleton Lake, traffic safety, noise, etc. We have heard that local Indigenous communities received stacks of binders from the Applicant in late May, only a short time before the June Council meeting, which our lawyer says is "patently unreasonable".

     Information on OMB Hearings

    • Timing of the Hearing: The OMB's hearing schedule dictates when the hearing will take place. Currently, we do not expect a hearing until 9-12 months in the future.
    • Length of the Hearing: OMB hearings on contested aggregate planning applications may last 2-3 weeks, depending on the disputed/unresolved issues involved (e.g. hydrogeology, water, ecology, planning, traffic engineering and safety, etc.).
    • Procedure before the Hearing: There will likely be a Pre-hearing Conference for the Lippa appeals in the next 4 months.  At the Pre-hearing Conference, parties and participants will be granted status, and the OMB will ask the parties to work on the Procedural Order. The Procedural Order is the "road map" for the hearing, setting out dates for the parties to exchange issues list, witness lists, witness statements, etc.
    • Evidence at the Hearing:  OMB hearings are expert-driven. This means that in order to support its case, SLCO will continue to work with the experts it retained to review the Lippa applications: land use planner, ecologist, traffic impacts and safety, noise, and others.  

    The OMB hearing requires a substantial financial commitment in order for SLCO to put its best case forward to convince the OMB to refuse Mr. Lippa's proposed pit and quarry.

    SLCO members continue to voice the importance of protecting and enhancing the health of our Skeleton Lake watershed, and according to Mr. Gord Miller, the former Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, the Lippa pit and quarry application is a direct threat to the Lake we all love.


    Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry: Aggregate Licence Application

     July 10, 2017, was the deadline for the public to submit Letters of Objection to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. SLCO submitted comprehensive and expert-based objections, thanks to your support. We also thank those of you who submitted your own Letters of Objection to the Ministry, ensuring our community's voice is heard.  These will be available on our website.

    We eagerly await the Applicant's response to our concerns about the impacts to Skeleton Lake and our community, and will update you once we have them.

    The Ministry is responsible for processing Mr. Lippa's aggregate licence application under the Aggregate Resources Act.  There is a chance that the Ministry will refer Mr. Lippa’s licence application to the OMB. Often, the OMB will hear both planning appeals (rezoning and Official Plan matters) and aggregate licensing matters in a single hearing.

    Other Updates on the Lippa Pit and Quarry

    To date, there have been no comments from the Province on the application on many important issues, such as impacts to Skeleton Lake tributaries and the Lake, air quality, noise, etc. 

    The Township of Muskoka Lakes will also be preparing its case against the Lippa pit and quarry. SLCO needs to engage the Township to ensure it continues to represent our community’s voice and hires experts to support this position.

    What You Can Do

    • Donate to SLCO to cover the cost of our legal and expert fees.
    • Call or write your local Councillor and the Mayor, and thank the Township of Muskoka Lakes for taking a stand to protect our environment and community.
    • Encourage local and provincial governments to engage Indigenous communities.

    SLCO will send weekly updates on the Lippa pit and quarry, and related issues.

    Scott May


    Skeleton Lake Cottagers Organization

  • 11 Jul 2017 4:53 PM | Jeff Crocker (Administrator)

    Yesterday,  the SLCO's legal council, Donnelly Law, filed an official Letter of Objection with the MNRF calling on them to reject the application by Mr. Frank Lippa for a Class "A" License to operate a pit and quarry on Butler Mill Rd.  

    You can read the Letter of Objection in its entirety here  2017 07 10 Ltr from Donnelly Law re Objection to Lippa Pit.pdf

    The SLCO Board of Directors 

  • 10 May 2017 8:36 PM | Jeff Crocker (Administrator)

    The SLCO has indicated it's opposition to the proposed Lippa Pit & Quarry in a letter sent to the Township of Muskoka Lakes Planning Director yesterday. The SLCO will deliver that same message to the ToML Council Meeting on June 16th 2017, where they will consider this application.

    Our members and others in the community are asking what else they can do to express their opposition to this application.  We strongly encourage you to contact the ToML to express your individual concerns about this application. 

    In order to ensure your comments are kept in the public record and part of this application it is best if you submit your objections in writing, either by Canada Post, email or fax to the Planning Committee of the Township of Muskoka Lakes at -

    David Pink,  Director of Planning, Township of Muskoka Lakes,  P.O. Box 129, Port Carling, Ontario, P0B 1J0, email:,  Phone: (705) 765-3156  Fax: (705) 765-6755

    In addition you can copy the Mayor of the Township of Muskoka Lakes - 

    Donald Furniss, Mayor, Township of Muskoka Lakes P.O. Box 129, Port Carling, Ontario, P0B 1J0, email:  Phone:(705) 765-3156 Fax: (705) 765-6755 

    You may also want to include a copy to your elected ToML representative -

    Ward A

    Ruth-Ellen Nishikawa,  District and Township Councillor,

    Sandy Currie, Township Councillor,

    Donelda Hayes, Township Councillor,

    Ward B

    Allen Edwards, District and Township Councillor,

    Linda Barrick-Spearn, Township Councillor,

    Gault McTaggart, Township Councillor,

    Ward C

    Phil Harding, District and Township Councillor,

    Jean-Ann Baranik, Deputy Mayor, Township Councillor,

    Terry Ledger, Township Councillor,

    If you are outside the Township of Muskoka Lakes and this rezoning will still affect you, you may wish to contact your local municipality's Planning Department and/or elected representatives in your area.

    Town of Huntsville:  
    Stisted (Aspdin Rd), Stephenson (Allensville) & Port Sydney (Ward 3, 4 & 5) Councillor,

    Kirstin Maxwell, Director of Planning, Town of Huntsville, 37 Main St East (705) 789-1751,

    Ward 3, 4 & 5

    Jason FitzGerald, Township Councillor, 705-385-1838

    Det Schumacher, Township Councillor, 705-385-2677

    To email these representatives and for further contact information go to:

    Seguin Township District of Parry Sound: 

    5 Humphrey Dr., Seguin, 705-732-4300

    Ward 6: Jack Hepworth  705-346-2181

    Ward 3: Rod Osborne  705-774-6166 

    District of Muskoka: 70 Pine Street Bracebridge, Tel: 705-645-2231 

  • 10 May 2017 8:30 PM | Jeff Crocker (Administrator)

    Today the SLCO sent a letter to the Township of Muskoka Lakes Planning Director David Pink, registering it's opposition to an application by Mr. Frank Lippa to create a large pit and quarry operation on Butler Mill Rd, just north of Skeleton Lake off of Aspdin Rd.

    The SLCO feels the proposal, known as The Lippa Pit & Quarry (Lippa), could have a significant impact on the environment at the north end of the lake, the residents who access the area from Aspdin Road, and could potentially impact our water quality.

    The proposed Lippa operation would require an amendment to the Official Plan as well as changes to the zoning of the lands where the quarry would be located.  The proposed amendments are to be considered at a council meeting scheduled June 16th at ToML council chambers in Port Carling.  More information can be found here .

    You can read a copy of our letter here SLCO to ToML re Lippa Quarry.pdf

    Why is this important to residents and cottagers on Skeleton Lake?

    • The SLCO has reviewed various studies submitted in support of the application and has concerns about potential impacts on the environment, wildlife, pollution, traffic and water quality.   

    What can you do?

    We will be communicating with you by email over the coming weeks as more information becomes available.  You can also keep up to date via our Facebook group and at our website at .

    Thank you for your support.

    Scott May


  • 13 May 2016 10:40 AM | Jeff Crocker (Administrator)

    Courtesy: Ken Reese

    Muskoka Beech are under attack by the Beech Bark Disease, an insect-fungus complex. This disease has now pretty much spread through the entire range of the beech species. In the insect stage of the disease, the crawler nymphs, less than a millimetre, hatch in late summer, soon cover themselves in a white, woolly wax filament and feed by inserting their stylet into the inner bark of the tree. 

    Beech Scale Insect TuftsThe scale insect looks like a white tuft and the colonies can be numerous enough to lend a whitish cast to the bark. By spring the adult stage of the scale continues to feed and lays its eggs in the summer. The insects do not kill the tree but do weaken it over time.

    Juvenile BBD CankersIn the fungus stage of the disease, the fungal spores are carried by wind and rain and over a period of 2-10 years, enter the feeding wounds left by the scale insect,. The fungus feeds on the inner bark and cambial layer causing small cankers to appear on the surface of the smooth bark.

    Red Fruiting Bodies, Oct

    These cankers continue to grow and often within 3-6 years girdle the stem. The conspicuous clusters of fruiting bodies of the sexual stage appear in the fall as red coloured bulbs some 2-3 mm in height and can be numerous enough to give a reddish cast to the bark.

    Clusters of Red Fruiting Bodies, OctFor the cottager, damage can occur from dead branches or the collapse of the tree. Careful inspection of your beech treecan identify the insect and the fungal stages of the disease and precautionary measures can be taken.

  • 02 Jul 2015 10:27 AM | Jeff Crocker (Administrator)

    (FOCA July 2015)  An important clarification and confirmation of municipal jurisdiction of the permitting and approvals of structures built over water was recently rendered in Ontario Superior Court. 

    Read more and see the full decision, here:  FOCA: Municipal-authority-over-boathouses-decision

  • 02 Jul 2015 10:18 AM | Jeff Crocker (Administrator)

    (FOCA July 2015) As we begin the busy July and August boating season, OPP reminds us that boating safety is up to each of us. The decisions we make on the water can lead to great family times, or potentially tragedy. 

    Read more, including an OPP report on boating incident statistics from the last 10 years in Ontario: FOCA/boating-safety-is-everybodys-business

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