Marina’s proposal to build 300-foot-long dock is dividing cottage country


A marina’s proposal to build a dock that’s nearly the length of a football field is heating up cottage country. 

In April, Michael and David Shaw, who own the Cove Marina on Lake Joseph, sought approval from the Township of Muskoka Lakes to expand their dock system to 298.6 feet. Under the current bylaw, the maximum length a dock can be built is 66 feet. 

According to reports, an amendment to the brothers’ proposal, which cut the dock down by a little more than 24 feet, did have the support of some councillors and community members. But apparently it wasn’t enough, and the proposal was turned down in a council meeting last week.

The men have 20 days to appeal the decision, and Michael Shaw told The Globe and Mail that he plans to do so.

The marina is located on Lake Joseph’s Foot’s Bay, where residents are concerned about how the dock expansion might affect the environment.

“It’s not as if people are dumping sewage or gasoline into the lake,” Muskoka Lakes Mayor Don Furniss, who supports the dock expansion, told The Globe.

But shoreline development alone can have a huge impact on aquatic ecosystems. Depending on how the shoreline is altered and the dock is built, it could discourage the growth of native plants, which can determine important factors like how many pollutants make it into the water, and the amount of food available for other species.

Nearby cottagers aren’t just worried about how the construction of the dock would affect ecosystems—there’s also the increased boat traffic that would come with it, which the opposition believes could be unsafe and create a noise issue in the bay.  

According to the The Globe, during the peak hours of boating season, an average of 44 boats pass through the bay every hour, and 68 percent of those boats are either going to or coming from the Cove Marina.

Still, Shaw says the marina desperately needs more boat slips, which would help with the lack of access points on Muskoka Lakes. He maintains that the new dock would not affect the environment, though he’s willing to compromise if it means reaching an agreement that both sides are happy with.