Deborah Duce
CEO/Chief Librarian
7 Minerva Street East
Huntsville, ON, P1H 1W4

Phone: (705) 789-5232 ext. 3407

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Policy Number:   14-47
Policy Approval Date:  June 9, 2014
Policy Review Date:  June 2017

Community Analysis consists of the following parts

  1. Community information on the Town of Huntsville
  2. Implications for planning from the community information
  3. Periodic Surveys on Library Services
  4. Implications for planning from the survey
  5. Planning using the results from the above.

Community Information

Following is a range of community-related information as it relates to Huntsville, Ontario, 2014. Information was collected under the headings and using the suggested questions in Creating the Future You've Imagined: A Guide to Essential Planning, Appendix 10. SOLS, 2007.

Town Slogan

Touch the Past, Embrace the Future

Town History

  • Huntsville was established as an agricultural community in 1869 by Captain George Hunt
  • The railway arrived and the Village of Huntsville was incorporated in 1886
  • The locks on Brunel Road were constructed in 1877
  • The Town of Huntsville was incorporated as a Town in 1901
  • The Town of Huntsville was incorporated into the District Municipality of Muskoka in 1971


  • Located 215 km from Toronto, 130 km from North Bay and 350 km from Ottawa
  • Huntsville is the Gateway Community to Algonquin Provincial Park
  • Arrowhead Provincial Park is entirely located within the boundaries of the Town of Huntsville

Social and Economic Factors


  • Largest of the 6 municipalities within the District of Muskoka
  • Population (2011) is about 20,000 full time residents
  • Seasonal population is about 8,000, less than most other municipalities
  • Forecasted population in 2031 is as follows (annual growth rate 2011-2041 appears in brackets: permanent 24,500 (0.9%); seasonal 6,700 (0.4%); total 31,200 (0.8%); total households 11,915 (1.1%); total employment 12,000 (0.8%). Source: Watson and Associates Economists Ltd. 2013
  • 37.1 % of current population is between ages of 45-69. Forecast for Muskoka region indicates continued increased in ages 64+ by 20% in the next five years. Decrease in young families (parents ages 25-40 and children ages 0-10) BUT mini boom in youth ages 10-25
  • Most expensive place in terms of house affordability when compared to other similar communities
  • Homogeneous community, less than 1.5% is visible minority


  • 56.1% of Huntsville's working age population have post-secondary qualifications, which is significantly higher than similar communities and the provincial average
  • Educational facilities include: adult community learning centre, seven elementary schools (6 public and 1 catholic), one high school, two independent K-8 schools (Tawingo College, Montessori)
  • Forbes Hill Research Centre (University of Waterloo Environmental Centre, Northern Ontario School of Medicine)


  • Average household income is $74,000, 10% below national average
  • Average employment income in Huntsville is $32,000, $10,000 below provincial average and equal to similar communities
  • 62.1% of all income is derived from employment (6.2% through self-employment, 29.3% from pensions and investments, higher than the provincial standard). Huntsville is wealthier than its employment profile suggests
  • 50% of jobs in Huntsville are in sales and service, trades and transportation
  • Overall job totals have remained relatively stable because of increased employment in services including healthcare and education. Employment in manufacturing was 9% in 2011 (22% in 2001), number of manufacturing firms has increased from 51 to 67, 300 more businesses in 2011 than in 2001, but a large turnover (large firms have closed, trade issues, satellite firms, increased in smaller firms)
  • Sales revenue from arts and culture businesses and organizations generated 5.1 M in 2011, but is leveling off, 235 arts and culture professional and technical workers residing in Huntsville( 2006)
  • Three distinct elements of geography of businesses 1) town 2) rural 3) highway

Lifestyles and Interests

  • Located on Fairy Lake, hilly, vibrant downtown, four exits from highway 11, highway 60 by passes the town
  • Numerous and various programs available for adults, youth, children and families at various venues, indoors and outdoors - year long, special programs at March break, PD days, Family Day, Canada Day
  • Numerous and various volunteer opportunities are available eg. Day camps, aquatics, library, theatre
  • Indoor facilities offer space for programs and public gatherings eg. Summit Centre, Active Living Centre
  • Outdoor facilities offer space for public gatherings eg. River Mill Park, Conroy Park, beaches
  • Blend of year round residents, regular 'visitors' ie. Summer, weekend, winter, and special occasional ie. Paddle festivals, theatre, girls' weekend
  • Can be a stopover for people en route to Algonquin Park, Ottawa
  • Shopping includes 1) vibrant downtown - free parking - maintained by business association, independent stores and services 2) shopping plaza anchored by Winners and Metro and 3) box stores area anchored by Walmart and Independent
  • Visitors to Algonquin Park and 'en routers' often use Hwy 60 and bypass downtown Huntsville
  • Most summer weekends have special events ie. Firefly festival, antique cars, Nuit Blanche
  • Fall/winter weekends include annual studio tours, girlfriends getaway, comedy festivals - event tourism is an important component to the town
  • Algonquin Outfitters sponsor popular Banff film festival and paddling film festivals
  • Library and movie theatre offer Reel films monthly
  • Huntsville Public Library has 12,022 library users, 60.8% of which are residents of the Town of Huntsville. Source: statistical review April 2014 HPL
  • Arenas offer venue for special events and hockey games and tournaments

Groups and Affiliations

  • Churches of major denominations
  • Special interest groups ie. PROBUS, lake associations
  • Chamber of commerce
  • Service groups ie. Rotary, Lions
  • Food table

Agencies and Services

  • Medical services include doctors, dentists, & regional hospital
  • Youth services
  • Lack of enough affordable housing
  • Nursing homes, retirement homes
  • Non for profit i.e. Community Living
  • Court services
  • Huntsville transit, local service. Huntsville is the only municipality in Muskoka to offer local transit service.
  • Ontario Northland bus service
  • Muskoka airport offers daily service to Toronto, Pearson International Airport 2 ½ hour drive.
  • Represented in government by mayor and town local town council, regional council, provincial and federal members of parliament (Muskoka/Parry Sound)
  • Huntsville's sphere of influence for economic, social and cultural activities includes all of Muskoka and also north of Huntsville into Almaguin, and east through to Algonquin Park

Changes Occurring

Latest plans listed on town website include: Unity Plan, Community Impact Plan, Official Plan, Cultural Plan, Marketing the Community.

UNITY Plan (2010) goals include: environmental protection, municipal operations and infrastructure, energy conservation, transportation, land use planning, social well-being, education, public health and health care, healthy active community, arts, culture and heritage, economic development, affordable housing.

Town of Huntsville Cultural Strategy (2010) SWOT strategic implications: Strengths: create strong strategic plan that builds on UNITY plan, continue to work with community groups to provide excellent facilities and programs, make good use Waterloo Summit Centre for Environment, promote 'arts and culture' brand: Weaknesses: involve youth in on-going cultural planning, upgrade and refurbish facilities Library, MHP, Algonquin Theater: Opportunities: investigate need for public art gallery, refurbishment plan for library, focused marketing approaches and develop a plan, show and promote arts, culture and heritage as another economic engine for the town: Threats: build support tools of sustainability for arts, culture and heritage organizations

Huntsville's Economic Development Strategy: Focus on Arts and Culture (2013) key findings: 5.1 million direct revenue generated by arts and culture companies and organizations, 235 arts and cultural professionals working in Huntsville, Huntsville has experienced lower growth in arts and culture than similar Ontario communities

A Tapestry of Place (2013): a place-based cultural tourism strategy for Huntsville/Lake of Bays (2013) focuses on cultural tourism and offers these suggestions: 1) appeal to older retired group, 2)retain younger group, 3)become more multicultural - people moving up from Toronto, 4) provide college and university satellite programs and encourage growth in employment which would attract post-secondary graduates, 5) cater to retired group and provide arts and culture activities they want, 6) provide mentorship and entrepreneurship programs and opportunities for young people, 7) support small business, encourage retail businesses, balance three geographical business areas, keep town vibrant

Community Assets

  • profiled by Terry Bradshaw on 'Today in America'
  • an 'Inclusive Community'
  • a 'True Sport' community
  • Regional shopping centre
  • Public library
  • Algonquin Theatre
  • Huntsville Festival of the Arts
  • Canada Summit Centre
  • Regional hospital
  • Muskoka Heritage Place
  • Forbes Hill Research Centre (University of Waterloo Environmental Centre, Northern Ontario School of Medicine)
  • Parks such as McCauley Robertson and Conroy Park
  • Hidden Valley Highlands skiing
  • Curling rink
  • 52 km of Trans Canada trail and numerous parks, over 65 km of boating
  • resort accommodation for over 1000
  • world class golf
  • shopping  and dining
  • local transit bus, airport service to international airport, 20 minutes from regional airport, linked to Toronto with major highways
  • various service groups, various groups and organizations serving seniors, children and youth
  • community halls
  • arts, culture and heritage groups
  • Group of Seven murals
  • sporting groups and organizations
  • specialized organizations such as YM/YWCA, nature clubs and lake councils
  • public art exhibits, outdoor murals
  • Arrowhead Provincial Park, gateway to Algonquin Park

Town of Huntsville website

Provides useful information about:

  1. Visiting:   ex. Arts, culture and heritage, calendar, events, places to stay and eat, things to do, transit schedule
  2. Living:   ex. Accessibility, community directory, education, employment resources, services such as fire, police and ambulance, garbage and recycling, health services, places of worship
  3. Doing Business:  ex. Advertising opportunities, bids and tenders, business directory, economic development, demographic and statistics, partner links
  4. Town Hall:  ex. Customer service, elections, information and connections with mayor, town councils, boards and committees, budgets, forms, maps, town plans and studies
  5. Direct links to the Huntsville Public Library, Algonquin Theatre and Museum (Muskoka Heritage Place)


Social and Economic Factors:

  • Focus on full time resident
  • Focus on population between 45-and up, youth 10-25, and young families
  • Focus on educated, middle class
  • Focus on employment areas of sales and service, trades and transportation, arts and culture, new business

Lifestyles and Interests:

  • Competition/collaboration with other programs available at various venues, in town and close by
  • Competition/collaboration with other programs that require volunteers
  • Competition/collaboration with other programs that provide rental space
  • Include seasonal residents/tourists at high times and for special community events

Groups and Affiliations:

  • Collaborate with groups - Chamber of commerce, PROBUS, Rotary
  • Agencies and Services
  • Collaborate with variety of community services - nursing and retirement homes, court services, youth services

Changes Occurring:

  • Have a place 'at the table' in problem solving and decision making planning eg recent studies and reports on cultural strategy, tapestry of place, town planning

Community Assets:

  • Be part of the community profile - Accredited library, programs available
  • Continue to maintain library website and image/link on town website


70% of respondents were female, 54% ages 40-65+, 20% 13-18, 10% 30-39, 92% permanent residents, and 45% live in Chaffey.

Focus on people who have their own library card or share with one other person.

Focus on those who visit the library twice a month, once a week or more than once a week.

Focus on those who browse or check out materials, use library computers (to research or search the catalogue), pick up holds, research, read, get help from the library staff.

Focus on communicating what the library has to offer.

Focus on providing seating, quiet space, more computers, and study rooms.

Focus on communicating that there is a website and what the website has to offer.

Ensure the website allows for people to find books, DVDs etc., renew library materials, check account, find eBooks, and place holds.

Provide online services such as personalized services such as reading recommendations, eBooks etc. for download, online programs and events calendar.

Improve library's eBook collections, offer programs/ videos/personal support on how to access and download.

Focus on providing programs that 1) support early reading and literacy (68%) 2) enhance leisure time such as books, movies, music, games, programs or activities (55%) 3) promote the library as the centre of community (35%).

Provide information about the library through email, on the website, personally from the staff, and notices in paper.

Focus on playing a role in the community by providing 1) collections that support reading for learning and pleasure (70%) 2) a place to study (50%) 3) a place to learn about community issues (40%) and 4) support for technological learning (33%).




  • Ongoing review and development of our physical and virtual libraries.
  • Annual connection with users and non-users to determine their information, entertainment, and technical needs and interests.
  • Use the Huntsville Public Library Strategic Plan, Community Analysis, and survey information as well as the Town of Huntsville Master Plan and other working plans to:
    • plan programs
    • build collections
    • create services
    • ensure a safe and efficient facility
  • Develop training plans for all Library staff to ensure they have the skills (public service, information, and technical) to meet the needs of users.
  • 2014 Goals:
    • Development of Virtual Library:  New URL, consistent and accessible webpages, ongoing review and redesign, and increased access (ex. online library card application, and Parent/Teacher webpage with resources)
    • Implementation of Technical Competencies training plan for all staff.
    • Implementation of Information Services training plan for circulation staff.
    • Facilities Assessment:  physical, user needs and interests, and short term and long term plans.
    • Implementation of Digitization of Muskoka Room resources.
    • Outreach and market to users and non-users - outside the Library.
    • Connections with the community for programs and initiatives:  ex.  Green Series, Sustainability Collection, Huntsville Oral Histories, and a Seed Library.
    • Partnership for programs, collections and services:  ex. Muskoka Parry Sound Genealogy Group, the Town of Huntsville, Education Huntsville, and local schools.
    • Fulfillment of Accessibility Plan Goals
    • Completion and introduction of marketing and communication plan
    • Partnerships with Muskoka Libraries in community initiatives and shared resources via a digital media platform (VITA - in effect July 1, 2014)
    • Recruitment of a new Library Board
    • Completion of Accreditation process
    • Marketing and implementation of social media goals
  • 2015 Goals:
    • Connect with new Council on a regular basis
    • Introduction and training of the new Library Board
    • Completion of digitization of Muskoka Room resources accessible via the shared digital media platform
    • Introduction of a central service delivery point and public service plan
    • Implementation of Step 1 in an RFID migration plan:  at service desks and a self-checkout workstation
    • Advocacy for a library space that meets the needs and interests of the community.
    • Ongoing training for all staff.
    • Awarding of Accreditation at 2014 OLA SuperConference
    • Annual summer survey
    • Master Plan - Outsourcing for external review to create a long term plan