By Chad Ingram
The following are brief reports of items discussed during a May 20 online meeting of Algonquin Highlands council.
While some Algonquin Highlands residents have been renting out their properties for others to camp on, it’s not legal.
Mayor Carol Moffatt said there have been a number of instances in the township of people renting their land to campers though websites such as Hipcamp, reiterated the practice is prohibited, and that bylaw staff had been responding to complaints.
“Just so you know, you can’t rent out your land for people to camp on,” she said.
Parks, trails and rec director Chris Card said that with people making multiple campsite bookings in different areas amid hopes that COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted, a phenomenon that essentially amounts to the scalping of campsites is emerging across the country.
“I have not seen or been privy to that happening here,” Card said, but added that if it began happening, a policy may need to be created to address it.
Safety concerns near Livingston Lake
The township will send a letter to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry regarding council’s concerns around public use of Crown land near Livingston Lake, use that includes the discharging of firearms.
The land, a provincially owned pit, is used for camping and target shooting, and activities there have caused issues for area residents for years.
With more people taking refuge in the county from the COVID-19 pandemic, Councillor Jennifer Dailloux said she expected those issues to amplify this summer.
“And the No. 1 concern truly is the use of firearms in that area,” Dailloux said, explaining it appears the pit backs onto a large forested area, and adding that is not the case.
“It looks like the pit backs onto forest land, but actually the pit backs onto a small berm and on the other side of that berm is the cottage road at the end of which you find a lot of the cottages along Livingston Lake Road,” Dailloux said.
“This is not a piece of Crown land that’s in the middle of nowhere that affects nobody,” said Mayor Carol Moffatt.
Paying off municipal debt
With a May payment of approximately $24,000, the township has paid off its municipal debt.
Councillors received the township’s 2020 audited financial statements from representatives of Pahapill and Associates.
“You continue to have a very strong cash position, relative to a smaller township,” Carl Pahapill said.
Moffatt acknowledged the auditors for carrying out their work remotely amid the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. Normally, the auditing process includes auditors making physical visits to township offices.
“I know that audit work was a challenge this year because everything had to be done virtually,” she said.
AH supports upper-tier talk on short-term rentals
During a May 12 committee-of-the-whole meeting, Haliburton County councillors agreed that conversations surrounding the creation of short-term rental regulations for the county’s four lower-tier municipalities should move to the county table, with any regulations or licensing system that may be created enacted across the county in a uniform fashion.
Algonquin Highlands councillors supported the move and will forgo issuing a municipal survey on the matter for now. All four municipal councils have had conversations in recent years about regulating short-term rentals, with Minden Hills and Highlands East undertaking surveys. Algonquin Highlands had been on the brink of releasing its own survey.
“The survey was ready and it was on the agenda,” Moffatt said. “ … It could create confusion if we produce our own survey … because at county council it had been suggested that if we continued with our survey, it would at least be a thumbprint of feelings in Algonquin Highlands. But then, if the county goes forward, if the councils all support this, and there’s another survey, people say, ‘Well, I already did a survey somewhere.’ So we don’t want to have too many competing issues.”
Councillors agreed a uniform approach across the county makes sense.