Mark Clairmont |

BRACEBRIDGE — With the clock ticking on an anticipated report on restructuring municipal governments, the Ford government has approved a new 20-year Official Plan for Muskoka.

On Friday, June 28 the province approved the updated Muskoka Official Plan (MOP), a document that provides the roadmap for growth and physical change in Muskoka for the next 20 years, says a District of Muskoka release Tuesday, July 3.

A review years in the making with political, staff and community involvement has been passed by the province, a road map to 2040.

Among the changes are expanding the urban borders in Port Sydney, Utterson and Novar.

And clarification of land uses in Huntsville around Hidden Valley and the Locks there.

As well Community Improvement Plans (CIPs) will allow certain improvements, while restricting others.

The MOP is the result of political, staff and community study.

According to the release, it sets out where Muskoka is headed into late 2030.

A district graph sets out some of its service responsibilities taxpayers pay for.

“The plan provides framework for not only area municipalities but for landowners, developers and community members, and will play an integral role in achieving our community goals of protecting Muskoka’s natural assets, increasing the supply of affordable housing, building healthy communities and promoting a vibrant economy,” said Samantha Hastings, the district’s commissioner of community and planning services, says the release.

Over the past several years the MOP review has engaged a variety of community stakeholders including Muskoka’s six area municipalities, Indigenous communities, lake associations, service clubs, special interest associations, community and business groups, the Muskoka Watershed Council, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit and others.

“We sincerely value and thank all community members who were engaged in the process to update the Muskoka Official Plan.” said District Chair John Klinck.

“Over 20 different community groups, two high schools and three elementary schools participated in the review process.”

He said the district also received over 500 written comments from stakeholders.

A second graph narrows the services a little.

“This engagement is something to be proud of,” said Klinck.

“We can say with confidence that the voices and spirit of our Muskoka communities are reflected in this plan and I am so pleased that progressive policies that address the vision and core values of Muskoka have been incorporated into this updated plan for our future.”

With the Muskoka vision in place, the MOP incorporates provincial objectives and community-driven priorities to support a healthy environment, a vibrant economy, and accessible and inclusive communities throughout Muskoka.

To learn more about the roadmap to shaping Muskoka’s Official Plan, visit the District website