Permitting accessory structures for docks given time for review

By Darren Lum
Dysart et al council is looking to clarify the permitted use of accessory structures in the township since an application for rezoning highlighted the large scale issue at a regular council meeting on May 24.
This discussion about this came up during an application by Kevin Holmes, who made an application to rezone his property from Waterfront Residential Type 4 zone to Waterfront Residential Type 4-XX zone to permit a two-storey structure with garage space on his Winkler Road property designated Haliburton Village Urban Policy Area and Urban Residential Area in the Municipality of Dysart et al Official Plan. His application included the permit of an accessory structure on a marine facility – in this case a canopy on a dock.

Mayor Andrea Roberts recognized the challenge of granting the permission for the canopy to Holmes, who would not be the only case in the township.
“It is a very big dilemma. This little marine facility/or cover. I think if we put it in the zoning [and] is approved then if it goes the other way then does this mean 50 people have to reapply? Should we be looking at a zoning application?”
Deputy Mayor Pat Kennedy asked if we can allow this until the bylaw is revisited.
“It is a huge can of worms. We’ve got lots of them. Not just this issue,” he said, referencing how these accessory structures are all over on many lakes.
Holmes, who said his parents were on the lake since the 1950s, said the dock he made matched same exact dimensions as the original with the same cover. He said in addition to the expense is how he didn’t even know the canopy was an issue because it hadn’t been before.
“These covers, they’re not free. It’s 20 years old, but I spent six or $7,000 at the time and maintaining it or what have you. I’d also venture to say that most people, like myself, I had no clue I was doing anything slightly wrong. I know it was already raised … Most people would say it’s essential to have to protect their boat and as Mr. [John] Smith said and to have your own shade for yourself,” he said.
Ward 2 Councillor Larry Clarke agreed work needs to be done to address this.
“It’s apparent that there is a larger policy that’s needed and we just ignore for now,” Clarke said. “We’re not blessing it and we’re not saying get rid of it. Just get it off the plate and we’re not prepared to support or make a decision at this point,” he said.
Roberts noted how the public needs to be acknowledged, which is recognized by a letter from the Kennisis Lake Cottage Owners’ Association who expressed support for the garage, but not the accessory structure.

Ward 4 Councillor John Smith said this is similar to another situation with free-standing saunas.
“By the definition of our zoning bylaw, they’re not allowed. Free-standing saunas are not allowed anywhere on a Dysart property. Yet we know as councillors there’s hundreds of them out there,” he said.
Smith wants to see a focus on education instead of enforcement by bylaw officers regarding accessory structures. He suggested Holmes be given until Sept. 1, which by that time the bylaw officer will go out, and, in the interim, council and staff change the bylaw to “something more practical” and look at implementing something for next summer.
Ward 5 Councillor Walt McKechnie said getting Holmes to take down his canopy would be “100 per cent wrong.”
“If he wasn’t doing this garage, nobody would have said anything about this canopy. It just seems like whenever you’re trying to spend a dollar a neighbour’s got to poke their nose in and now is my time to aggravate Mr. Holmes. I think we should let it be and the next council for sure be addressing this and either coming up with a new bylaw, a new set of rules. But we punish Mr. Holmes there who’s the next neighbour that is going to complain here about somebody that wants to do something? There’s a lot of infractions on everybody’s property. We’ve lived with them for so long why are they all of sudden aggravating people? I just don’t understand.”

Roberts agreed with Smith’s earlier comment about not including it and look at reviewing.
“It’s opening a bigger can of worms. I’d rather not include it right now. Go easy on any enforcement,” she said.
At the end, council voted to permit the rezoning for the application for the garage, but the amendment did not include permission for the canopy.