Municipal Official Plan Recommendations
Muskoka Watershed Council (MWC) has developed a series of 36 recommendations for consideration during a municipality’s Official Plan (OP) review process. Our recommendations generally relate to integrated watershed management (IWM), climate change, natural assets, transportation, energy efficiency, and innovative environmental approaches.
These recommendations are drawn from extensive MWC work and research on how to manage and protect the watersheds of Muskoka, including, for example, our 2020 paper on Integrated Watershed Management and our 2016 report “Planning for Climate Change in Muskoka“.
MWC understands that land-use planning is one of the most important tools at a municipality’s disposal to protect watershed health in the long term. Through our own strategic planning processes, MWC issued a community-wide survey in 2020 to identify environmental priorities across Muskoka and 79% of individuals surveyed placed land-use planning among their top four priorities. Recognizing the fundamental importance of watershed health to our economy and community well-being, MWC recommends that municipalities adopt an “environment first” stance in land-use planning.
Coordinating land-use planning among the municipalities sharing the same watersheds is a key feature of IWM. Accordingly, MWC is making the same recommendations to all municipalities in our watersheds, while understanding that each will be at different points in their OP review cycle.
MWC expects IWM to evolve in Muskoka over the coming years and with the support of the provincial and regional governments. The attached document should be considered an interim submission while key IWM initiatives are advanced by those levels of government and while MWC is assisting the Province and District of Muskoka on various foundational projects related to IWM. Notable among these, in their relevance to municipal planning, are projects on land-use policy review, floodplain mapping, and natural capital inventory. These and others are slated for completion in early 2023. MWC expects to use the findings of these projects in updating our recommendations relating to land-use planning.
MWC hopes that municipalities will take the time to review, consider, and hopefully implement these recommendations.