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Boswell v. Seguin (Township)

Location:

Muskoka/Parry Sound/Haliburton


Subject:

Boathouses, Minor Variances, Shoreline Development


Court:

Ontario Municipal Board


Application/issue:

This variance hearing was uncontested. On Lake Joseph, there are many substantial boathouses with upper living quarters. Some are larger than what is permitted by today’s zoning – which was sometimes adopted years after these structures were built. Boswell (Applicant) owned on of those non-complying structures in the Township of Seguin. The Applicant proposed a boatlift apparatus, intended for the boat moored under her awning. Although these devices spend much of their time underwater, By-law 2006-25 treats any “in-water shoreline structure or facility” in much the same way as a building. The Applicant applied for three variances: to reduce the sideyard setback; to allow a corresponding increase in width of the boathouse; and to allow an adjustment in the allowable shoreline frontage. The Committee of Adjustment received letters of opposition and the Committee turned down the variances. The Applicant then appealed to the Board.


Held:

Appeal allowed


Reasons:

Although there are many instances where concerns would be justified, the Board was not convinced that they apply to the fact situation here. In terms of visual impact, and respect for the water and the shoreline: at present, the view is of a boat at water level, under a cantilevered awning; under this proposal, the only change to that vista would be that the boat would be propped, instead of being at water level. The Board was not persuaded that, in this specific case, the incremental act of propping the boat under the awning would represent a significant visual digression – as viewed from the lake. The Board concludes that the evidence makes the proposed variances minor, for the purposes of the Planning Act.


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