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Campgrounds and tiny homes are the subjects of two new Grey Highlands bylaw amendments

Michael Benner

Michael Banner discusses the proposed amendments with residents.


BY SOUTHGREY.CA STAFF — A public planning hearing was held at the Markdale Arena on August 26 to discuss two proposed Grey Highlands bylaw amendments. Grey Highlands Mayor Paul McQueen, Deputy Mayor Aakash Desai and Council members were on hand as well as municipal staff. Councillor Paul Allen chaired the meeting.

Director of Building and Planning Services Michael Benner outlined each of the amendments, the first of which recognizes resource-based recreational uses in site-specific locations. Nicknamed the camping bylaw, the proposed amendment allows for campgrounds within Open Space zones. Any application to rezone a property within the municipality to allow for resource-based recreational use would be assessed on an individual basis and could be subject to additional environmental or community impact studies, also given adherence to certain size and conditional restrictions:

  • Minimum lot frontage of 60 meters.
  • Minimum lot area of 2 hectares.
  • No tent, trailer or recreational vehicle shall be permitted, except on a campsite.
  • No tent, trailer or recreational vehicle, building or structure shall be located within 9 metres of a street.
  • No tent, trailer or recreational vehicle, building or structure shall be located within 7.5 metres of a side or rear lot line that does not abut a public street or within 15 metres of any residential zone.
  • Minimum campsite area of 150 square metres, not exceeding 36 campsites per hectare.
  • Minimum campsite frontage of 7.5 metres.
  • Each campsite shall be accessible by means of a driveway of at least 3.5 metres in width for one-way traffic or at least 7.5 metres in width for two-way traffic.

According to Benner, public response to the proposed campground bylaw has been very positive so far. A few people in the audience also let their views be known including a young boy whose comments and bravery in front of a large crowd earned him an impromptu ovation. "I really like camping," he said. "I like to fish and it's a great way to meet new people," he added.

Those sentiments were echoed by Grey Highlands Chamber of Commerce President Stewart Halliday. "We welcome new businesses and new campground owners," he advised. "I thank the municipal planner and council for moving ahead on this project," he continued.

Grey Highlands planning hearing 

Many residents attended the public hearing held at the Markdale Arena.


The second bylaw amendment addressed a motion made by council in February, to consider reducing the minimum size requirements of dwelling units in the municipality. Benner explained that previously, the Ontario Building Code dictated dwelling size according to minimum dimensions for individual rooms combined to compose a minimum standard. Benner's proposal would remove the minimum size requirement completely.

The amendment does not address minimum lot size requirements for smaller homes. Currently, minimum lot sizes are flexible, uniquely determined by the conditions of a given lot and what services are necessary or available to create a fully-functioning dwelling on the property, such as water and waste management system considerations. By example, septic systems would require more space than a sewer hookup.

Dwellings that can be towed as a trailer or mobile home will continue to be disallowed as a primary residence in the municipality.

Several audience members spoke in favour of the need for smaller, more affordable homes in the municipality for both millennials and seniors. Markdale Rotary President Patrick Petch came armed with statistics. "The average home in Grey Highlands sells for $497,000. The average millennial's salary is only $38,000 per year," he explained, making the point that homes are generally unaffordable to millennial buyers who according to Petch can only realistically handle a maximum mortgage amount of approximately $200,000.

Builders in attendance added their concerns with the escalating cost of new homes, citing a minimum construction cost of $150 per square foot. Reducing the size of homes, while creating a less expensive option for buyers, can only go so far in bringing home prices down to an affordable level. Lot size and location play an important role in determining the price of a home in Grey Highlands.

Senior planner for Grey County, Scott Taylor stood up to say that he was closely watching this initiative. "It is a great conversation and we will work with municipal staff to come up with solutions," he said.

Following the August 26 public meeting, all comments received by the municipality on both bylaw amendments will be considered in a report to be provided to council sometime in September or October when determinations will be made. These amended bylaws could conceivably be in effect within two months. 


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South Grey News Comment Policy: 

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Updated March 12, 2020.

Your comments

Hawthorn commented on 29-Aug-2019 02:16 PM5 out of 5 stars
Hawthorn Camping on Lake Eugenia - was the only Campground in all of Grey Highlands since the 50's Please send in support letters to pass the camping bylaw and help Hawthorn's Camping reopen to -
Bryce Murph'Ariens commented on 29-Aug-2019 04:02 PM5 out of 5 stars
I am glad to read this. I am a resident in Southgate, formerly of the Grey Highlands, who has lived in a hand sculpted tiny home for ten years. Southgate is presently taking us to court, insisting that the permission we had ten years ago is invalid, and that we must retroactively apply, pay unknown fees, and supply expensive paperwork we do not have. I am pleased that at least nearby municipalities recognize the need for non-toxic, affordable housing solutions right now.
Andrew Brown commented on 30-Aug-2019 10:36 AM3 out of 5 stars
I am a property owner and voter in Grey Highlands. Campgrounds are a complementary addition to Grey Highlands natural destinations.
Every resident will reap the benefits of more people staying and therefore buying more goods and services and injecting more money into our (some of them struggling) businesses and potentially creating new job opportunities.
Additionally I would like to specifically support Hathorns’ ability to successfully operate a campground. I encourage the bylaw, when passed, to accommodate their specific and successful recipe to operate a safe and friendly environment that makes us locals look good and welcomes visitors to take advantage of all of our beautiful visitor friendly attractions and businesses. I personally know people over the years that have stayed at hawthorns on a reoccurring basis and had great times and spent money enjoying all Grey Highlands has to offer.
Thanks for “listening “ I trust my opinion will be considered as seriously as I consider my vote.
Janice commented on 30-Aug-2019 12:55 PM3 out of 5 stars
I hope the council of Grey Highlands reconsiders allowing camping not only at Hawthorn's but all of Grey Highlands. I don't understand how Ontario Tourism is opposed to camping in such a large area of our beautiful cottage country. Isn't Doug Ford's motto "Open For Business". I guess not in Grey Highlands. I have been a cottage / camping person all my life and have enjoyed going to Hawthorn since there first year of operation. You also need to reconsider the size of land, personally speaking a smaller resort is so much better and not overcrowded. I have also spent money in a lot of your retail and attractions. Brian and Jayne have made Hawthorn;s such a beautiful and friendly place to stay year after year. Regards J Bush
Edyth Cartwright commented on 31-Aug-2019 07:38 PM3 out of 5 stars
We need all the help we can get. Camping in cottage country.. what a concept!! If you had imojis here, I would definitely be rolling my eyes at this totally rediculous bylaw . I've been coming up to Eugenia camping for years.. I'm now a 15 yr. Resident and welcome our tourist. As I'm sure the Top of the rock does. Our local restaurants. Coffee shops Grocery stores. Gas stations. Farmers market. The list goes on. Camping is for family's. Memories for our children and grandchildren. Who would want to deny family's quality time together?? I hope that the respected citizens that are full time residents here will have their say and be heard. This is unacceptable for a tourist town that has been famous for their little loved camp grounds. That being said I would also like to point out what an amazing job the new owners have done rebuilding their cabins and making their water from one of the best looking on the lake. They really have put their heart and soul into their family business and run a clean and reputable establishment. I will continue to keep up the good fight to keep our tourist coming back. It's not rocket science... it's common sense. ;)
Mr Law commented on 04-Sep-2019 07:33 PM3 out of 5 stars
Need to follow the planners professional opinion on the proper size of property to facilitate the campground

Hawthorn barely has half an acre. How could you set something up properly. The answer is you cant.

That's why the provincial government shut it down
M Adams commented on 04-Sep-2019 07:48 PM3 out of 5 stars
If we follow the recommended professional planners position it avoids conflict and adheres to how other municipalities have set up there campgrounds. Why is is that all Hawthorn wants to do is avoid the proper set up like adding a septic system.? Cutting corners is not the answer follow the bylaws. Everyone else follows the ontario building code You will too Nice document m benner

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