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Planner's Comments on Proposed License of Occupation Policy

The comments below are from Algonquin Highlands Planner Sean O'Callaghan regarding the Township's proposed License of Occupation Policy, and were made during an August 17 Council meeting. A recording of that meeting is available for viewing on the Council Meetings page of the Township website. 

"This Policy does not apply to all docks within Algonquin Highlands.

The Township License of Occupation Policy applies only to private structures that occupy a Township Road Allowance or Shore Road Allowance where there is a Township maintained road (not County Road, Provincial Highway or Private Road) between a private property and the water.

The intention of the policy is to help those property owners in this specific situation so that they can best utilize the water and improve/replace/build new infrastructure on this land as currently we cannot issue building permits for such structures.

A number of other concerns with the policy have been raised which I will now address:

1. $5 million dollar liability Insurance
a. Through discussions collaboration with the CAO it was confirmed that $5million is an industry standard and is an appropriate level of insurance to require for private infrastructure located on public land given the level of risk to the Township.

2. $500 annual fee
a. As Council will recall it was discussed that it is reasonable to expect the beneficiaries of this policy to cover a majority of the costs of administering it as it will only benefit the individual property owners applying for the license.

b. It was also a result of the Service Delivery Review completed by the County of Haliburton where a recommendation was made that the Planning Departments of the Lower tier Townships align their fee structures for consistency across the County. This was supported by Councils across the County.

3. Public Lands Act
a. The Township is not in violation of the Public Lands Act.
The “Public land” that is referred to in the Public Lands Act is a defined term and it does not include a municipal road allowance or shore road allowance.

The definition from the Act states: “public lands” includes lands heretofore designated as Crown lands, school lands and clergy lands; (“terres publiques”).

4. Liability vs a typical OSRA with no Township Road between the property and water
a. There is a greater risk to the Township where a Township maintained road exists vs onenot being present.

b. the Municipal Act requires municipalities to keep a highway in a state of repair that is reasonable in the circumstances, and provides statutory defences to municipalities if it did not know and could not have reasonably been excepted to know about the state of repair of the highway Which would include original shoreline road allowances. A similar provision exists with respect to unopen road allowances made by Crown Surveyors, which again would include original shoreline road allowances.

5. Can anyone now apply for a license of occupation in front of my property?
a. No. Only the property owner directly across the Township road can apply for a license of

6. Concerns of Being taxed already at a waterfront rate.
a. The Municipal Property Assessment Corporation is responsible for individual property assessment throughout the Province of Ontario. They have advised that while yes properties with a Township Road running between their property and the water are assessed as waterfront property the assessment is adjusted to reflect that.

b. Property owners that are concerned with the current assessment of their property should reach out directly to the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation to best address their questions.

It is important to remember that this policy can be reviewed by Council at a later date and revised as necessary. Staff will also be monitoring the policy and will report back to Council with recommendations as needed to further improve it. Thankfully we are not the first to implement such a policy and there are a number of example policies from other Townships dealing with similar situations that we can use as valuable resources in the future."

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