As it appears time is running out for County council to adopt its shoreline preservation bylaw before the end of its term, Coun. Brent Devolin said he fears anti-shoreline bylaw candidates will run in this fall’s election.

At an April 27 meeting, Council resolved to continue refining the draft bylaw and hire a solicitor to review it. However, they fell short of passing it.

If council does not adopt a final bylaw, Devolin said, “I think that this is going to be a singularly hot list item in the municipal election.”

He added, “what I always don’t like to see in any level of politics is single-issue candidates and my fear is this will be a polarizing thing that if we don’t make some decision or institutionalize where we go forward with this, that is what’s going to happen.”

He said he lived in Muskoka when something similar occurred in Port Carling and “it’s a mess.”

With nominations opening May 2, Devolin added, “Do I suspect in some wards and jurisdictions there will be cottage associations and or others that are going to put single-issue candidates up? I fear for what can happen if we don’t make some decisions about foundationally where we can go with this.”

No so-called slates have yet filed for nomination.

Warden Liz Danielsen said there would always be single-issue candidates and, “I would hope the work we have done so far has formed a bit of a foundation. I know it’s not adopted but the fact is we need to have a legal review before we can adopt the document.”

She and Coun. Pat Kennedy said the file can progress until new councils begin in November. For example, they said there would have to be changes to official plans and lower-tier bylaws. Kennedy said they could still hire staff to get ready for implementation, establish baselines and goals for the bylaw, and do public education.

Coun. Andrea Roberts suggested hiring one additional person to advance the portfolio, and provide public education this summer about shoreline health.

Moffatt says shoreline should be a ‘bad apple’ bylaw

She said she would vote ‘no’ to the bylaw not because she disagrees with it but because she is not ready to pass a bylaw at the end of the term when it appears four councillors will not be running for re-election. Devolin, Roberts and Coun. Carol Moffatt have all announced they are not running.

Moffatt said she harboured similar fears to Devolin.

“There’s already talk out there … the anti-shoreline people are going to overturn council and rule the world.” She said it would be, “the worst possible thing to the progress of the last 20 years not in just this one item but across all sectors and fronts of the work that has been done and achieved so I think everybody needs to be well aware of the danger of one issue candidates should they come forward.”

However, she said she didn’t want to make a decision on the bylaw just because there’s an election coming.

“We will never satisfy the people who are simply just mad about it, but they can’t articulate why and we’ll never capture the bad apples who are going to do what they’re going to do no matter what we do or don’t put in place,” she said.

“I almost feel like it should be a bad apple bylaw. For the average property owner and the majority of contractors, this bylaw won’t even touch their lives and people are continuing to misbelieve that they’re going to have to take down their bunkie and remove their fire pit, and their kids can’t play on the shoreline. It’s all nonsense. I don’t know where that stuff comes from. It’s all been really frustrating.”