Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith to run again in 2014

Mayor announces intention in open letter to media; wants to continue with ‘one of his greatest life experiences’

Posted Nov. 25, 3pm: Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith announced today he will seek re-election next October. He says he decided to declare his intentions today as he was getting so many citizens and members of the press asking him about his plans.

“Being Mayor of this community, any community, is an honour that few get to experience,” says Mayor Smith. “It is, for the most part, a job unlike most others as it takes place in full view of the public.”

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Official welcome to Bracebridge for new tenants includes a plaque and personal welcome from Mayor Graydon Smith: He’s shown here at the opening of the new offices of the Muskoka Watershed Council

“It can go from exhausting to exhilarating in the space of a few minutes and each day is rarely like the one that preceded it. Although it is perceived as a thankless job, it is anything but. Despite whatever tough days there may be, the good in Bracebridge and its people has far outweighed anything that might be considered a negative.”

“It has been, without doubt, one of the great experiences of my life and one that I hope continues beyond the end of this term,” says Mayor Smith.

He says he will file his nomination papers at the earliest possible opportunity when the campaign period officially opens in January.

North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN to get $9million boost for healthcare

Funding to support senior home care and expand community healthcare services

Posted Nov. 25, 2.20pm: The Ontario government is providing approximately $9.2 million to support home care for seniors and to expand community health care services, including mental health supports, in the North Simcoe Muskoka Local Health Integration Network (LHIN).

A press release today from the Ontario Ministry of Rural Affairs promises the funding will give senior and residents in North Simcoe and Muskoka improved access to home care and community supports to help them live independently and at home longer.

The investment is also designed to support programs that reduce what the province considers unnecessary emergency room and hospital re-admissions. Such programs include:

  • an integrated Regional Seniors Health Program
  • Telehomecare, to help monitor things like vital signs and blood sugar
  • enhanced personal support services in the home

“This investment will support many valuable programs in North Simcoe Muskoka,” says Jill Tettman, CEO, North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN, “programs that will provide the care our seniors need to help them live independently in their communities and in their homes.”

Improving access to home care and community supports is a key priority of Ontario’s Action Plan for Health Care.



Driver critical after sliding into tree near Port Carling

Two hurt in collision yesterday on Peninsula Road; driver critical

Posted Nov. 24, 8.39am:  An unidentified man is in critical condition in a Sudbury hospital after a collision late yesterday afternoon in Port Carling.

The Bracebridge OPP is reporting the accident happened just after 4 pm about two kilometers north of Muskoka Road 118 West on Peninsula Road. Police say it appears the driver was travelling northbound when he slid off the road and hit a tree on the right shoulder.

The male driver suffered serious injuries while the female passenger sustained minor injuries. Both were taken to South Muskoka Memorial Hospital (SMMH) for medical treatment. Due to the seriousness of the injuries, the male driver was air lifted to Sudbury for further medical treatment. At of early this morning, the driver was listed in critical condition.

Note to Readers: Muskoka News Watch does not send out new posts to its subscriber lists about police-related stories so as not to clutter your inbox. If you wish to follow up on this story (and others like it) we recommend you checking back into the site for updates to articles such as these.

Fire off Highway 60 near Oxtongue Lake; Port Sydney man seriously hurt in tree cutting accident

Updated at noon Nov. 20: All lanes now open on Highway 60.

Original post: Crews fighting fire at Highway 60 near Oxtongue; Port Sydney man seriously injured after tree branch falls on him yesterday; downtown Huntsville accident sends child to hospital

Posted Nov. 20, 9am: Careful through Highway 60 near Oxtongue Lake as firefighters and police are on the scene of a structure fire. Huntsville Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is currently assisting Algonquin Highlands Fire department at the fire that started just before 5am. Highway 60 is down to a single land and due to water on the highway, the OPP is warning drivers about icy road conditions through there. You can expect delays in the area until the fire crew are clear from the property.

Port Sydney man seriously hurt when tree branch falls

Meantime, Huntsville OPP is reporting a tree cutting accident that has left one man with serious injuries. Just after 11am yesterday, a tree cutting company was working at a private home on Montgomery Bay Road in Lake of Bays.  Police say a branch from a tree fell and struck a man standing below it. He lost consciousness and emergency services was contacted.

A 28-year-old male from Port Sydney was transported to Dwight via ambulance to meet Medevac at Irwin Memorial Public School and he was then taken to a Toronto hospital.  He has not been identified. The Ministry of Labour is investigating.

Child suffers minor injuries after being struck by car in downtown Huntsville

In other news, there have been a couple of accidents in downtown Huntsville where people turning have caused collisions, including one where a child was hit.

An 83-year-old Huntsville woman has been charged after police say an 8-year-old child walking with his family was struck at Centre Street and Main Street yesterday. He suffered minor injuries. Just the day before, a Honda Civic was stopped to make a left turn onto Park Drive  from Brunel Road when a school bus struck it from behind pushing it up over the curve on to the lawn. The driver of the Civic suffered minor injuries.

Seasonal RIDE program runs Saturday, November 23 through to January 2, 2014

OPP thanking motorists ahead of Festive R.I.D.E. campaign but not letting their guard down with impaired drivers

Posted Nov. 18, 8.30pm: The following is a press release (verbatim) from the OPP advising that the annual holiday season RIDE program starts this Saturday. Rumours that Metro Toronto Police plan to engrave this message on a certain politician’s Escalade are unconfirmed and believed to be purely speculation.

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is taking the rare step of thanking Ontario drivers ahead of their 2013 Festive R.I.D.E. (Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere) campaign for not driving impaired over the holidays and for helping them get impaired drivers off our roads.    

The reason for the early thank you is because the OPP knows that the vast majority of drivers do Drunk driving, driving while under the influence, DUI, RIDE, OPP, police Ride checksunderstand that enforcement is only part of the solution and that driving sober is the single most important factor in ending the numerous impaired driving related deaths that occur on Ontario roads every year. The OPP considers these drivers to be among their most dedicated road safety partners because they share the responsibility of saving lives on our roads through responsible driving behaviour.

The campaign runs from November 23 to January 2, 2014. According to the OPP, the public can expect to see as many OPP Festive R.I.D.E. stops as ever during this year’s campaign, in order to deal with the relatively small number of drivers who choose to get an impaired driving charge over the simpler and less costly solution of not getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol.  Unfortunately, the irresponsible behaviour of one driver can negatively affect the lives of many.

“I am calling on all road users to help us keep everyone safe over the holidays.  Never allow yourself to drink and drive, never allow someone you suspect is impaired by alcohol or drugs to drive and if you are out on the road and suspect that a driver is impaired, call 9-1-1. I would like to thank in advance the hundreds of thousands of drivers we know we can count on to take these simple but important measures to help us get everyone through the holiday safely,” said Chief Superintendent Don Bell, Commander, OPP Highway Safety Division.

“Our most recent national statistics tell us that there were 90,277 impaired driving incidents in Canada in 2011 and I am proud to say that Ontario had one of the lowest impaired driving rates among all of the provinces that year. We attribute this to a combination of targeted police enforcement and education efforts by all safety partners, combined with the motoring public’s generally favourable compliance with impaired driving laws, their awareness of the risks and their willingness to be a part of the solution,” said Deputy Commissioner Larry Beechey, Provincial Commander, Traffic Safety and Operational Support.

The OPP is also reminding drivers that there is no safe amount of alcohol consumption when driving.  This is evident every year in the number of Warn Range Suspensions <>  the OPP issues to drivers whose Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) falls within the 0.05 to 0.08 range.

Over the last two Festive R.I.D.E. campaigns (2011 and 2012), OPP officers issued a total of 1,208 Warn Range Suspensions over and above the 1,375 impaired driving charges they laid throughout the province.  Those who are issued a Warn Range Suspension immediately lose their licence at the roadside and are not allowed to drive from that point on for a minimum of three days.

The OPP is asking the public to join in on the conversation on Facebook <>  during the campaign.  Share your thoughts, stories and personal experiences with impaired drivers/driving, as well as any positive stories about people you encounter over the holidays whose actions and decisions about drinking and driving contribute to a safe holiday season on our roads.


New owners for Muskoka Riverside Inn

 Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith welcomes new owners, the Patel family

Posted Nov. 18, 7:30pm: After almost 20 years, the Muskoka Riverside Inn in Bracebridge has changed hands.

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Mayor Graydon Smith welcomes Patel family to Bracebridge

Don McGillis has sold the 54-bed hotel on the Muskoka River to Vimal Patel and his family. Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith welcomed them officially to Bracebridge today.

“The Patel family has strong roots in the hospitality industry in Ontario,” says Mayor Smith. “As a testament to their commitment in quality, the family successfully redeveloped the former Bayview Inn into a thriving Knight’s Inn in Orillia. These efforts were rewarded with a Business Achievement Award in 2009 by the Orillia Chamber of Commerce.”

“In addition, the Patels continue to be recognized for Quality Assurance by the Knights Inn group, year after year,” says the Mayor. “We are pleased that this family has chosen to invest in Bracebridge and are excited about the vision they have for this property.”

Built in the mid 1960s as a grocery store originally, The Muskoka Riverside Inn was renovated into a shopping centre before becoming a motor hotel. “Following some fairly extensive renovations, our plans are to brand the property under an international banner”, says new owner Patel. Renovations are to take place in phases with the hotel remaining open throughout the process. “Ultimately our goal will be to grow our conference and business clientele,” says Patel, “as well as to provide outstanding customer service to our guests.”


MNR alerts residents to Flood Watch in Muskoka Lakes-Seguin areas

MNR issues Flood Watch for areas of Muskoka Lakes and Seguin Townships; rain starting Sunday could push water levels up across Muskoka

Posted November 15: The Ministry of Natural Resources is cautioning people in flood prone areas of Muskoka to be prepared for potential flooding if our region gets the rain that’s expected from Sunday through Monday.

The MNR has issued a Flood Watch for residents in low-lying areas on Lakes Rosseau and Joseph and in the Bala Reach area that includes Moon River. Rain of up to 50mm over the next few days would likely cause already high water levels to rise. A Water Conditions – Flood Outlook statement has been issued for the rest of Muskoka, while the Flood Watch is in place specifically for the Townships of Muskoka Lakes and Seguin.

Environment Canada had forecast light showers for tonight (Friday) with rain from Sunday through Tuesday. Should that rain come as forecast, the potential for flooding will exist, repeats the MNR, for all flood prone areas of Muskoka.

What this means for the Bala Reach, including the Moon River: Current high water levels may reach flood levels in areas vulnerable to being flood prone..

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While water levels have dropped since Nov. 12, they could go up again on Lakes Rosseau and Joe if we get the rain that’s expected starting Sunday. This graph also shows the difference between the high water levels of the spring flood as of April 30 vs November 15. What a different 0.2m can make.

What this means for Lakes Rosseau and Joseph: Lake water levels may increase significantly, which could potentially impact infrastructure such as docks and boathouses.

For both areas, the additional rainfall on top of the higher than usual amounts we saw in October is causing the problem, according to the MNR.

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Water flowing over boom below Ragged Rapids generating station Nov. 6, 3.40pm. Dam and plant fully open as water pours from the Muskoka Lakes township side into Wahta Mohawk Territory

To download the Flood Watch, click here: Flood Watch – November 14, 2013

To download the Water Conditions Advisory, click here: Flood Outlook – November 14, 2013

Keep watching back here for updates expected from the MNR by 5pm on Monday, November 15 if not earlier.

Understanding the Terminology of water advisories:

Minor differences in terminology can mean a great deal for residents living in areas that are prone to flooding.

  • A Water Conditions Statement warns of high water along rivers and lakes. A Water Conditions Statement-Flood Outlook warns of the potential for localized flooding within specific watercourses and municipalities.
  • A Flood Watch means potential for flooding exists within certain watercourses and municipalities (in this case, Muskoka Lakes and Seguin so far).
  • A Flood Warning means flooding is imminent or occurring.

For Flood advisories, you can also look on your local Township web site as the MNR in Parry Sound shares water advisories with all municipalities, First Nations, other stakeholder groups and the media across Parry Sound-Muskoka. Or follow our Editor @Muskokahn on Twitter for the most immediate updates.

Outstanding Business Achievers recognized by Bracebridge Chamber of Commerce

20th Annual Outstanding Business Achievement Award winners announced

Posted Nov. 15, 3pm: The Bracebridge Chamber of Commerce has announced the winners of its Outstanding Business Achievement Awards.  The 20th annual awards ceremony took place yesterday at the Rotary Centre for Youth in Bracebridge. Ninety people came out to celebrate excellence in the Bracebridge business community.

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Bracebridge Chamber of Commerce recognizes Outstanding Business Achievement Award Winners

And the winner is…The following people and businesses received the most votes from Bracebridge Chamber members.

Pita Pit won the New Business of the Year Award sponsored by OfficeWorks and Andrew Bridle of Pita Pit received the Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award from award sponsor RBC Royal Bank.

Muskoka Brewery received the Business of the Year Award from award sponsor TD Canada Trust .

Classy Cuts Salon & Spa won the Outstanding Retail Customer Service Award from award sponsor Muskoka Staffing Company.

Stan W. Tait Jewellery received the Home Based Business of the Year Award from award sponsor Georgian College Muskoka Campus <> .

Castle Peak Retirement Residence <> received the Service Provider of the Year Award from Award Sponsor Gagnon’s Your Independent Grocer.

Julia Watson of Tiggs Clothier won the Female Business Person of the Year Award sponsored by CIBC.

Don Smith of Muskoka Magazine and Momma Bear’s Ice Cream and Sweets received the Male Business Person of the Year Award sponsored by Barriston LLP .

Habitat for Humanity Muskoka received the Outstanding Contribution to Bracebridge Award from award sponsor Bracebridge Chamber of Commerce,

Congratulations to all! Sponsors of this year’s awards are shown below.

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Sponsors of the Bracebridge Chamber of Commerce Business Achievement Awards

Update: Hwy 400 crash victim identified; teen crashed into fire truck serving another accident

Post updated Nov. 12, 3:50pm: Victim in last night’s crash an 18-year-old from Lucknow

The OPP today released the name of the teenager killed in last night’s crash on Highway 400. Eighteen-year-old Henry Green of Lucknow, Ontario was driving a south bound Chevrolet Cobalt when it struck the rear of a fire service truck which was at the scene of another single vehicle crash at the same location. The crash occurred on Hwy 400 southbound just north of Vasey Road in Tay Township.

Post Nov. 12, 8:30am Teen dead after crashing into parked fire truck on Hwy 400

First wintry driving conditions bring tragic consequences on Highway 400 last night

Posted Nov. 12, 8:30am: An 18-year-old man is dead after crashing into the back of a fire truck parked to help other accidents on Highway 400 last night in the Waubaushene area. The tragic accident at 7pm is one of several collisions last night in the same area of Highway 400 as roads became icy and treacherous.

Simcoe County Paramedics and Tay Township Fire Service were present to treat the driver but sadly he was pronounced deceased at the scene. He has not yet been identified. Both north and southbound lanes of Hwy 400 were closed between Highway 12 and just north of Vasey Road in Tay Township after the accident.

Police completed their crash scene investigation and the southbound Highway 400 was re-opened to traffic by 11pm (northbound lanes had re-opened by 9pm).

In police news from Huntsville:

Sometime between Saturday and yesterday, November 11, someone made off with a generator from the porch of a residence on Brunel Rd in Huntsville.

The generator is described as a Generac 7500 Watt, valued at $1300.00.

Anyone with any information or may have seen anything suspicious in the area of Brunel road and North Mary Lake Road is asked to contact Huntsville OPP or Crime Stoppers.

Charges laid regarding abandoned boat found on Lake Muskoka last month

Was boat purposely scuttled? Bracebridge man facing charges 

Posted Nov. 10, 1:30pm: A Bracebridge man has been charged a month after a boat was found partially sunk near Baxter Island on Lake Muskoka. Members of the Bracebridge Detachment of the OPP marine unit, with help from Pride of Muskoka Marine, recovered the boat on October 8. A search began for the boat’s owner.

As a result of information received from the public, police now say they’ve identified the owner and have subsequently charged Gordon Atkinson of Bracebridge with several offences under the Canada Shipping Act, including:

  • Permitting leakage of fuel within or from a vessel
  • Defacing Hull Serial Number
  • Defacing License Number on Pleasure Craft

The police would like to remind everyone to practice safe boating and the importance of reporting any abandoned, sunk or damaged vessels to the appropriate authority as required by Federal Marine Regulations.

Original Article October 9: Abandoned boat found on Lake Muskoka may have been set adrift


Search for missing downed Cessna pilot continues in Georgian Bay

Missing pilot identified as 64-year-old Wilfred Burnside of Owen Sound

 Posted Nov. 9, 4pm: The search continues for the pilot of a Cessna that may have gone down north of Sprat Point in Georgian Bay. Yesterday debris from the plane was found in that area.

The search includes officers from Southern Georgian Bay Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and its Marine Unit, OPP Central Region SAVE Team aboard All-Terrain Vehicles (ATV), the OPP GHQ Forensic Identification Unit, and the OPP Helicopter Unit from GHQ in Orillia. All are searching the shoreline for the missing pilot.

He has been identified as 64-year-old Wilfred Oscar Burnside of Owen Sound. He was last known to be the pilot and lone occupant of a white with red trim 1968 Cessna 182 bearing registration CFIMQ which left Cornwall Airport at 5PM and failed to arrive at Owen Sound Airport for an expected arrival just before 8pm on November 7.

The land search has narrowed down to an area of Tiny Township shoreline between the 4th and 8th Concessions where officers have recovered today more small pieces of debris that are consistent to that belonging to an small aircraft.

Officers hope to continue the search tomorrow along with the OPP Helicopter Unit if weather permits. The weather conditions are expected to become stormy with high winds from the west on Sunday.

The Transportation Safety Board has been notified of the incident although at this time neither the aircraft nor the pilot have been located for their investigation purposes to learn of the cause of the suspected crash.

Muskoka Lakes Association wraps review of spring flood as fall waters climb

No surprises in report; MLA won’t pursue phase two of spring flood review; Muskoka Lakes Mayor roiling over high fall water flows; Lawyer filing class action ponders what MNR might be hiding

Posted Nov. 7, 10:15am: Fresh on the heels of new accusations by Muskoka Lakes Mayor Alice Murphy that the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) may be mismanaging the Muskoka watershed is this week’s release of the spring flood review from the Muskoka Lakes Association (MLA).

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Water flowing over boom below Ragged Rapids dam and generating station Nov. 6, 3.40pm. Water rushing from the Muskoka Lakes township side into Wahta Mohawk Territory.

The report focuses on the causes and consequences, along with the MNR’s handling, of the 100-year flood event in late April and early May. As a result, the MLA says it will push for a review of the Muskoka River Water Management Plan (MRWMP) and creation of a flood control manual.

The MLA review release comes when residents in low-lying areas of the Muskoka watershed are hoping they’ve seen the end of the rain that has spurred  concerns of possible fall flooding.

A letter to members from MLA President Mike Langdon states the study, conducted by engineering firm Baird & Associates, aimed to better understand the causes of the spring flooding, while determining if it might be possible to reduce the chances of similar future events. In the review, Baird makes these recommendations to improve Muskoka’s ability to weather similar floods:

  • Integration of flood forecasting and flood management as flood forecasting and flood operation are “beyond the current scope” of the Muskoka River Dam Operation Manual.  The manual itself notes that these issues could be the “subject of a future manual.”  MLA response:  The MLA will advocate for the development of an integrated forecasting and flood control operational management manual for the Muskoka Lakes system.
  • Investigation of structural changes to control structures: As currently constituted, much of the Muskoka Lakes system operates as “run of river” and is not actively controlled.  MLA response:  The MLA will advocate for a review of the Muskoka River Water Management Plan, with specific emphasis on the requirement for structural changes or enhancements to dams and control structures that could enhance upstream storage.

The MLA decision to call for a review of how Muskoka water is controlled is not surprising when viewed in a historic context. It won’t be the first review, and likely won’t be the last.

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Then and Now: Lake levels on Lake Muskoka at Beaumaris as of Nov. 7 are above 9.6m (up from beginning of October due to high rainfall) vs almost 10.2 at height of spring flood event

The 1940 Hackner-Holden Agreement established guidelines that included increasing spring flood response capability (i.e. drawdown of lakes), for example. It was reviewed and revised again in 1969. More recently, the MRWMP was approved in January 2006, and it’s due for a full official review again in 2016. Perhaps more surprising is the lack of any real new information about the spring flood resulting from the summary the MLA has provided from its commissioned review. The MLA does note that some information that might have helped a deeper review was withheld by the MNR due to the possibility of pending litigation (See lawyer Michael Anne’s MacDonald’s reaction later in this article).

Water management plan committee vice chair reacts

Responding to the MLA release, Patricia Arney, vice chair of the Standing Advisory Committee (SAC) for the MRWMP, says she found one statement in the review to be particularly astute. It reads:

“Conversely, analysis of this information may indicate that there simply isn’t enough storage in the system to handle that magnitude of event, given the constraints of homes, buildings, and other infrastructure constructed along the lake shorelines.”

Arney says that begs a few questions, such as where enough storage might be found, noting the Baird recommendations suggest an upstream location. She asks, “Where would the review suggest that upstream location be – Huntsville, or Algonquin Park?

Any input into future flood management, she continues, “must also recognize the needs of the plant and animal life that call the watershed home (along with the homes and buildings on the shorelines.).” As an example, she points to lake trout, saying their populations could be threatened if lakes were drawn-down much more than they are right now.

Improved forecasting a common goal

Arney adds that the MNR stated in its internal review that it’s considering additional opportunities and/or options to improve forecasting.” Improved forecasting is recommended in the MLA-commissioned review as well. Plus, she suggests municipalities should be reviewing planning documents to ensure better infrastructure for storm water management, road & bridge design, and for any future development on what are likely to be ‘new’ flood plains as these storm events increase.

Baird recommends MLA work with MNR and MLA to seek more info

The MLA will also ask the MNR to produce a detailed and transparent public report on the factors that led to the 2013 spring flooding as it believes waterfront property owners who bore the brunt of repair and reparation costs from the flood deserve a further accounting of the facts. The Baird review also recommends that the MLA “may wish to focus on working with MNR to further understand whether future modifications to the water management plan are warranted.”  (The lake association did have a board member on the Plan Advisory Committee until the water management plan was implemented in 2006.).

The MLA plans to report back to members on the results of the association’s advocacy efforts in the months ahead, but will not explore a phase two of the review based on the recommendations of Baird Associates. To read the results of the MLA-commissioned review (the summary letter is the entire report), click here to view the PDF document, Baird Flood Review Summary Letter .

Class action in process
While this may be the end of all expected flood reviews, a proposed class action suit resulting from flood damage remains on the horizon. Bracebridge lawyer Michael Anne MacDonald says she has over 284 potential claims and has had requests from many more property owners, including some on Lake Vernon in Huntsville, on the Moon River, and in Minden, but she is presently keeping it just to the areas for which she gave notice of possible action: that includes the South and North Muskoka Rivers, Indian River and Lake Muskoka.

MacDonald is suspicious of the reasons why the MNR would hold information back from the MLA as the Baird review has stated it did.

“The MLA sought the Report to ‘analyse data and provide commentary on the conditions that led to the flood’. The MNR would not release the information required to permit that to be done effectively,” says MacDonald. “The proposed Phase 1 of the MLA in commissioning the Report has been effectively thwarted by the failure to release the necessary information — for fear such information would be evidence of liability in civil proceedings. Sounds to me that they just proved my point. The water management practices must have contributed to the flooding or they would have no reason to not publicly disclose that information.”

Murphy questions water level control

As well, high water levels due to the rain Muskoka’s been getting have unleashed a flood of new complaints from Muskoka Lakes Mayor Alice Murphy. The Mayor was quite vocal in her disdain for the handling of the spring flood. Starting in late October, she again aired her grievances, charging the MNR was not meeting its responsibilities to the entire Muskoka watershed. On Twitter, she asked:

“Is Moon River not protected by @MNRcentral’s MRWMP? Unprecedented water levels–docks submergd. Removal of floaters difficult/dangerous #Why?”

She also questioned why water levels appeared normal on Lake Muskoka while higher on the river, stating:

“25mm of rain > Oct 2012, translates to < 1inch. BalaBay remains @ normal levels but Moon River up over a foot. #Flood2013again?”

In an interview with CTV News on November 2 (See Related Articles below this post to view the CTV News coverage), she noted that rain in the past week had pushed water levels higher, and said the MNR needs to take a different approach to how it draws water through the system. Murphy complained of too much water coming in “because all of the sluices are open at the Bala Falls and not comparably down river so the capacity is not sufficient.”

Some river residents say the Mayor is wrong.

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Looking up at water coming through Moon Chutes Oct. 29. The Chutes are a natural constriction for water and causes flows to back up in the Bala Reach

Moon River resident Mike Webb took pictures at Ragged Rapids on October 29 when he started hearing the ‘down river’ complaints.  He noted water was flowing through the Moon Chutes toward the dam as much as it possibly can given the natural funnel-like quality of that section of the river, and that the dam was fully open. He wrote a letter to Township Council telling it he was concerned about the reports he was hearing from the Mayor.

The reports are “not true” said Webb in the letter. “The dams below the Moon River Chutes are taking all the water that the Moon Chutes will let through.”

A trip to Ragged Rapids by Muskoka News Watch yesterday afternoon showed water coming through the Moon Chutes above the dam as fast as nature may allow. The waters were flowing swiftly at the Ragged Rapids bridge and water level marks on the rocks were at about the same level they were on October 29. Water coming out below the Ragged Rapids hydro plant was higher, with water flowing over top of the boom located there.

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Water rushing toward OPG plant Nov 6

The MNR and dam operators have been a target of the Mayor in the media who also complained during the spring freshette that logs were not being pulled from dams at correct times up and downstream, and the Township of Muskoka Lakes itself is still in a legal tiff with the MNR. The Township has appealed to the Superior Court of Ontario to overturn a decision by Divisional Court to not grant the Township the Judicial Review it was seeking. The legal action is in relation to Crown land at North Bala Falls – the same falls that are now leaving the Mayor’s dock built in August 2012 under water.

The Mayor’s dock is just below the Bala Falls and has been covered by the high water as has the Town dock on Moon River and docks of other residents.

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Just the top of the Mayor’s dock ladder can be seen in this photo. The dock is just below the Bala Falls dam. Other docks, including the Town dock on Moon River, are also under water.

Certainly, no one can downplay the problems high water levels cause for anyone in a low-lying or flood prone regions of the Muskoka watershed. And right below the falls can be a hard hit area. Just look at the docks below the falls — or the MNR public safety signs that are usually on dry land that were surrounded by water at the Bala Falls yesterday. Yet a Flood Watch is different than a Flood Warning (for definitions, see MNW Flood Watch article) and at least one cottager complained to MNW that they had become alarmed enough about reports of ‘imminent flooding’ that they were about to make a special trip up after shutting their cottage at Thanksgiving — only to find out from neighbors that water levels were nowhere near what they had been during the spring freshette.

Flood Watch issued due to high October rains; few takers on sandbag offer

Upon releasing a Flood ‘Warning’ briefly by mistake late Friday (November 1) and then replacing it with the lesser alarming ‘Flood Watch’, the Township offered sandbags to people in low places in Muskoka Lakes who may be suffering from the high water levels. Those in flood-prone areas know only too well how unusually high water at different times in the season can have a tough impact on their properties and belongings. As of three pm Saturday, only two families (including the Mayor’s family) had taken up the Township on the sandbag offer, according to workers Muskoka News Watch visited at the Glen Orchard site. Township staff confirmed yesterday that while sandbags were also available the next day until 4pm, there were no more takers. Certainly, cottagers and residents on Moon River who may not have secured belongings and removed docks may have difficulty with high waters from the unusual rainfall, and they could experience more grief as high water continues to move through the Muskoka water system. The rain just kept coming yesterday. As the MNR explains, that’s what a Flood “Watch” is for: to alert people they need to prepared for times when rivers and lakes are at higher than normal levels.

Parks Canada flood review of Trent-Severn

East of Muskoka, another flood review was commissioned by Parks Canada to look into the federal agency’s actions in flooding that affected lakes in Haliburton and the Township of Minden Hills. That third-party review of the Gull River sub-watershed was released November 1. It concluded that Parks Canada staff “performed their job to the best of their abilities” and their actions helped to avoid further flooding in downstream communities. Anyone interested in reading the Gull River Flood Review can click here to read the release and download the full report.

Additional Resources:

Highlights of the MLA review conducted by engineering firm Baird & Associates:

  • Gauge data on Lake Muskoka shows significant drawdown was taken in the 2-3 weeks before the storm event that caused the April flooding. Comparing data from the spring of 2012 to the spring of 2013, it appears the same drawdown efforts were taken in both years.
  • Despite the drawdown, lake levels show a peak stage in spring 2013 that was 0.6 meters greater than the peak stage in spring 2012.
  • The Town of Bracebridge’s 2013 Flood Area Mapping shows flooding was widespread in that community. This initial review did not identify any specific structure in the town as the root cause of the flooding.

What is the Muskoka River Water Management Plan? The Muskoka River Water Management Plan (MRWMP), implemented in 2006, takes an ecosystem-based approach to water management by considering the interests and concerns of all water users within the watershed.

To learn more about the Muskoka watershed, you can visit The Muskoka Watershed Council web site. The Council and The Friends of the Muskoka Watershed Council are also celebrating the Grand Opening of their new office today, November 7, and all are invited. 

Event Details:

Date: Thursday, November 7, 2013 Time: 3 to 5 pm (Ribbon cutting at 4 pm)
Where: 16 Robert J Boyer Lane, Bracebridge

Related Articles:

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Nov. 8 Update: Arrests made in Mac’s store robbery

Two suspects charged in connection with robbery in Bracebridge

Posted Nov. 8, 9:15 am: Bracebridge OPP yesterday arrested and charged two people in relation to the robbery at the Mac’s Convenience store on Taylor Road in Bracebridge.

On November 6, 2013 at approximately 10:20pm an unknown male suspect entered the convenience store wearing a black toque, with a white bandana covering his face and he was allegedly holding a knife. The male fled the scene on foot and had a vehicle waiting in the area.

On November 7, 2013 at 9:50am police attended the Canadian Tire in Gravenhurst to investigate a theft of a vacuum cleaner and obtained suspect information.

The members of Muskoka Vice located the vehicle used in the vacuum theft and arrested two individuals involved. The Muskoka Vice and the Muskoka Crime Unit conducted a thorough investigation and uncovered evidence linking the two individuals to the robbery of the Mac’s Convenience store.

27-year-old Louis Close of Bracebridge has been charged with:

  • Robbery with Violence (weapon)
  • Disguise with Intent
  • Theft Under $5000- SHOPLIFTING
  • Possession of a Schedule I Substance- Other Drugs

The second female suspect, 26-year-old Randalyn Courriere of Gravenhurst, has been charged with:

  • Robbery with Violence (weapon)
  • Theft Under $5000- SHOPLIFTING
  • Possession of a Schedule I Substance- Other Drugs

The two accused are held in custody and will be in Bracebridge court on November 8, 2013.Posted Nov. 7, 9.44am: The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Bracebridge Detachment is investigating a robbery last night at the Mac’s Convenience store on Taylor Road in Bracebridge.

Original Post: Robbery at Mac’s store in Bracebridge

On November 6, 2013, at approximately 10:20 pm, an unknown male suspect entered the convenience store wearing a black toque, with a white bandana covering his face and was holding a knife. The male left the store with cash and the female employee was not injured in the incident. The white male suspect is described to be:

  • 5’10” – 5’11, wearing:
  • white bandana
  • dark toque
  • white T-shirt
  • baggy Khaki pants
  • work boots

The male fled the scene on foot and may have had a vehicle waiting in the area.

The Muskoka Crime Unit and members of the Bracebridge Detachment are currently investigating the robbery.

Police are asking anyone with information to contact the OPP at (705) 645-2211 or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800- 222-8477. You can submit your information online at <>  if you have any information on this crime or any other crime. Crime Stoppers does not subscribe to call display and you will remain anonymous.  Being anonymous, you will not testify in court and your information may lead to a cash reward of up to $2,000.

Udpate: Explosive package found Nov 6. Last night: OPP warn of packaged marked Explosives left somewhere between Lindsay and Bracebridge

Package marked Explosives found – contained fireworks: OPP thank public

From the OPP Nov. 6, 1pm:  OPP are no longer looking for the package that was marked as “EXPLOSIVES”. The package has been accounted for and it has been determined that they were actually fireworks.

Police wish to thank the public and the media for their assistance with respect to this matter.S

Nov. 5: Search on for suspicious package along Highways 35 and 118; OPP tell public to watch for it but not to go near it if the package marked “Explosives” is found.


Posted Nov 5, 11pm: A package marked “Explosives” could be lying somewhere on a dead end street or in a ditch between Lindsay and Bracebridge. The OPP have issued a release to warn people that if they see the package, they shouldn’t go near it, but they should call 911 immediately.

The warning was issued by the OPP tonight. Police are hoping to locate the package which they believed was discarded sometime in the last 24 hours.

The package, which is marked “EXPLOSIVES”, is believed to have been left on a dead end street or ditch in the area of Highway 35 north of Lindsay to Carnarvon, and from Carnarvon to Bracebridge anywhere along Highway 118. Police officials say they do not know why or how the package was discarded and no other details are available at this time.

Again, the OPP is asking that anyone who may find this package — or anything that may appear to be suspicious in their daily travels anywhere along the noted route — to not touch it, but to call 911 immediately so that it can be dealt with in a safe manner.

NOTE: Muskoka News Watch does not always push out updates to subscribers so as not to overwhelm them with emails on stories that may not be of interest. If a particular police story like this one, for example, interests you, we recommend you check back in to our news site to watch for updates.

One dead, one seriously injured in Highway 11 crash at Gravenhurst

31-year-old Michael Michalek of Midland died in accident early this morning

Posted Nov. 3, 1pm: The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Bracebridge detachment is investigating a single car crash on Highway 11 Northbound in Gravenhurst that killed the passenger and seriously injured the driver.

Just before 2 am today (November 3, 2013) police responded to the scene on Highway 11 Northbound at Ure Road in the town of Gravenhurst. A single vehicle was found crashed into a rock cut, with no other vehicles involved.

The 31 year-old passenger, Michael Michalek of Midland, was killed in the collision. The driver of the vehicle was airlifted to a Toronto hospital with serious injuries.

The highway was temporarily closed for the investigation conducted by members of the Bracebridge OPP detachment and Technical Collision Investigators (TCI). It was opened shortly afterward. The investigation is ongoing as to the cause of the accident.