County begins process for strengthening shoreline
By Chad Ingram
Published July 31, 2018
As previously reported, Haliburton County council has decided to strengthen shoreline protection measures, and during a July 25 meeting, councillors discussed how that process will roll out.
The county’s current shoreline tree preservation bylaw prohibits the cutting of trees within shoreline areas, which means 30 metres back from the high-water mark. A tree is defined as 10 centimetres in diameter at crest height, although residents can be granted exceptions for clearing that follows forestry best practices.
An updated bylaw will include new protections for all natural vegetation, especially native species, within 30 metres of the high-water mark; regulate any site alteration within 30 metres of the high-water mark; and regulate the cleaning and clearing of land.
County staff will develop that draft bylaw, and an accompanying fact sheet. The draft bylaw will then be taken to the county’s four lower-tier councils for their review. County councillors agreed that the draft bylaw should be taken to the new municipal councils who will be sworn in later this year, as they will be the councillors dealing with the ramifications of the new bylaw. There will be a legal review of transferring authority of shoreline areas in each municipality to the county. A public consultation process regarding the draft bylaw will also be developed.
A number of councillors have also indicated they would like to see fines in the bylaw increased. Increasing financial penalties requires approval at the provincial level, and Minden Hills Mayor Brent Devolin pointed out that, as his been the case in his township, requests for increased fines can be denied by the provincial government.
On top of fines issued by municipal governments, in cases of extreme infractions, if charges are laid, then residents can be taken to court, where they face steeper penalties.
“And so previous discussions have been in a similar thread, that by this conversation we are acknowledging now that . . . we have an interest in taking issues to court, which we all know are costly and time-consuming,” said Algonquin Highlands Mayor Carol Moffatt, adding that if council was serious about cracking down on violations, it needed to make “a philosophical acknowledgment that we are in for a penny, in for a pound, on this.”
The whole process is expected to be complete in 2019 or 2020.