We have said many times before that being a good neighbour can go a long way towards making life at the cottage easier, but a recent controversy in Gravenhurst has us wondering exactly how far you should go.
A new cottage being proposed on Lake Muskoka has caused a lot of drama because of its modern design. The home, which has yet to be built, is being criticized by neighbours as not fitting in with the traditional Muskoka look.
Karine Krieger, who owns the island across from where the proposed cottage will be built, thinks that the owners have not given the community enough consideration.
“We were very careful when we were doing so to make sure that our development conformed…with the consciousness that we are somebody else’s view and I would say that this property has no such consciousness,” she told Muskokaregion.com.
“It offends me that anybody is coming to look out at the beautiful landscape and there is no recognition within themselves that they are providing a different view to everybody else in the area. I do find that offensive.”
According to Muskokaregion.com, 18 letters have been sent to the town expressing concern over the cottage’s design. In a recent town planning meeting, many residents showed up to complain about the development.
Geoffrey and Marie Claire Roche, who have owned property on the lake for 20 years, were some of the neighbours present at this meeting. Beyond not approving of the look of the cottage, they’re also concerned the “Star Trek” style home will reflect light because of its white exterior, causing glare.
“The architectural firm is out of Mexico City, which I think says volumes about this. In that they don’t have the slightest idea what architecture is appropriate for this part of the country.”
While many cottages on the lake may share a similar style, the reality is that there are no formal guidelines. In fact, according to Greg Corbett, a representative of Planscape who spoke on behalf of the project at the town planning meeting, the new cottage conforms to all zoning bylaws and dark sky regulations.
“What I can point out is size of the proposed dwelling complies with all the zoning requirements, complies with height, size of building,” he said at the meeting, adding that “Muskoka style” can be relative.
“With regards to design it is quite subjective, what is a good design, what is a bad design. Although we often use Muskoka character, I would say no one specific thing is Muskoka character, it’s all subjective in nature, it’s all a matter of opinion.”
Part of the issue may be that the owners, who live outside of the country, have not consulted with their neighbours about the redevelopment. While the family has owned the land the cottage will sit on for nine years, some of their loudest critics claim to have never met them.
However, it’s no crime to keep to yourself or — as much as it may pain some people to hear — have different taste than your neigbours.
As of late March, the town council deferred the issue for further consideration. They’re hopeful that this will give the owners time to work with the community to resolve the issue.
Still, it looks like an uphill battle given the general sentiment towards the home.
Would you redesign your cottage if your neighbours asked you to?