By Chad Ingram
Published Aug. 18 2016
A waterfront plan and downtown study for the hamlet of Dorset is complete.
The planner for Lake of Bays township presented Algonquin Highlands councillors with the study during their Aug. 11 meeting.
Dorset sits on the dividing line of Haliburton County and the District of Muskoka. Half of the community is located in Muskoka’s Lake of Bays and half in Haliburton County’s Algonquin Highlands township.
“The consultant really looked at the community as a whole” Stefan Szczerbak told council.
The study was performed by firms urbanMetrics Inc. and Dillon Consulting for the Township of Lake of Bays the Dorset Community Partnership and The Lake of Bays Marine Museum and Navigation Society which owns the S.S. Bigwin. It was funded through FedNor which provides federal money for projects in Northern Ontario.
“It was a short time period” Szczerbak said. “It was a short period because of our funding arrangement through FedNor.”
The creation of the plan included public consultations held in February and March.
“There’s a lot of private assets involved here” Szczerbak said explaining the plan includes recommendations and potential uses for privately owned properties and will require private-public partnerships. “It’s conceptual in nature. It’s not intended to put any burden on our council on your council as well.”
Opportunities identified in the study include adding permanent or floating docks to increase dock capacity; adding a roof to the skating rink for multipurpose use; the construction of a boathouse for S.S. Bigwin; new commercial uses; activities that would increase the use of the park and pavilion; adding parking and public washrooms; and offering incentives and/or relaxing zoning requirements to allow for manoeuvres such as the severance and sale of the former Clayton property.
Szczerbak conceded some of the recommendations in the study were “a little off the wall.”
“I think it was a great project” said Reeve Carol Moffatt. “There’s a ton of opportunity here.”
Moffatt asked that if there is a plan to act on any of the recommendations from the study that Algonquin Highlands council know about it from the onset so it has time to apply for funding through streams such as the Haliburton County Development Corporation. There has been a history of projects being planned by Lake of Bays council or Dorset community groups without Algonquin Highlands being informed.
“We would ask that if there are discussions . . . make sure we know right away because if we’re better informed at the front end then that gives us the time” Moffatt said. “We have to work on these things together as we’ve said in the past. We can’t work together if we don’t know about them.”