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Protecting Your Lake
Bitter, Burdock, Coleman, Little Redstone, Pelaw & Redstone


Protecting Your Lake
Bitter, Burdock, Coleman, Little Redstone, Pelaw & Redstone

FOCA Fall Seminar

I had the pleasure of attending the FOCA 2019 fall seminar on behalf of the Redstone Lake Cottage Association, which was held at the Boulevard Club in Toronto on November 16, 2019.

Below is a brief summary of the day.

The title of the Seminar was "Lake Stress, Road Egress, Water Tests, Extra Guests, Septic Checks" which was drawn from current issues and top ongoing concerns of FOCA members.

The sold out event, with a full house of 130 attendees plus another 36 webinar participants, commenced with greetings from Marlin Horst, President of the FOCA Board of Directors, who introduced FOCA's Executive Director, Terry Rees. 

Terry provided an overview of current issues and updates on the following key ongoing files.  Additional details can be found on the FOCA website:   

  • High Water & Flooding
    - forecast that great lakes are likely to remain unusually high and may set additional records
  • Provincial Policy Statement (PPS)
    - proposed 2019 PPS update includes changes to current policies related to natural heritage, water, agriculture, mineral aggregate resources & hazards
  • Aggregate Resources Act (ARA)
    - changes are being considered by the Ministry of Natural Resources 
  • Bill 132 omnibus bill
    - Bill 132 will revise over a dozen of Ontario's most important environmental statues
  • Electricity Pricing - proposed elimination of the H1 "Seasonal" class of customer.
    - At the request of the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) Hydro One submitted a "Motion of Change" on October 1, 2019, recommending AGAINST the elimination of the Seasonal Class of customer.   Follow this issue:   
  • Algonquin Land Claim
    - $300 million transfer to the Algonquins of Ontario, transfer of not less than 117,500 acres of Provincial Crown land to Algonquin ownership, and new recommended approaches
  • Asian Carps
    - brought to North America in the 1970's, migrated north through U.S. waterways towards the Great Lakes, prevention best way to protect native fish population  

You can also watch a video at 

  • Lake Partner Program of Long-Term Water Monitoring
    - 600 volunteers monitor water quality and water clarity in 550 lakes at over 800 sites, send water samples to lab for analyses.  Measure, total phosphorus (TP), water clarity, calcium (since 2008) & chloride (since 2015).  
  •  Risk Management for Lake Associations - member benefits
    - Protecting homes, boats, cars... and our volunteers. Cottage Insurance Programs, Road Association Insurance, Lake Association Insurance

The remainder of the day included presentations and discussions on the following four topics.

1.  Septic Re-inspection Programs
​Terry Rees introduced - Dr. Sarah Minnes, University of Saskatchewan, project researcher, 

  • Paisley McDowell, WSP Canada, septic professional, and 
  • Sandy Bos, Building Inspector, Township of Muskoka Lakes.

Sarah discussed the research, promising practices and rural policy implications for municipal re-inspection programs for residential on-site wastewater systems in Ontario.  She discussed the successes, challenges and lessons learned with Municipal re-inspection programs and presented case studies of various Municipalities and Townships.

Paisley of WSP gave a snapshot of statistics and general management.  Her discussions and slides included information on the number of systems and classes (class 1 - 5) in an example area.  She provided charts showing examples of age of systems, code contravention types, such as trees, bushes, roots within bed area, cracked, broken or missing tank lids, solids exceeding 33% of the tank volume, metal septic tank or holding tank, or an outhouse (class 1 system) not being vermin proof. She also stressed that homeowners be present for inspection of their system and be educated in early detection of problems and on-going maintenance information.

Sandy, Building Inspector with the Township of Muskoka Lakes, talked about the programs and goals that the Township has in place.

Information from the above presentation can be found on the FOCA website:

2.  Short-Term Rentals in Cottage County

Terry Rees presented the current issues and updates with Short Term Rentals (STR) and discussed the benefits and concerns, and how several Municipalities are regulating STR.  The benefits can include tourism, fees/taxes and residents want the option.  Some of the concerns include noise, garbage, parking, over-used septic systems, fires, fire safety and fireworks.

Bob Carter, Councillor Ward 1, Township of Minden Hills and President of Lake Kashagawigamog Organization, spoke about the challenges of regulating and problems with licensing.  Information on how various Municipalities are regulating STR is available on the FOCA website -

3.  Feature Speaker – Dr. John Smol, Paleolimnologist

Dr. Smol, Paleolimnologist, Professor of Biology and Environmental studies at Queen’s University, presented a very detailed and interesting presentation “Under the Radar: Long-term Perspectives on Ecological Changes in Lakes”.  He discussed the retrieving and studying of lake sediment cores to analyze the changes to our lakes and rivers due to natural and anthropogenic (resulting from human activity) stressors.  He spoke about the importance of long term monitoring of aquatic ecosystems and explained how paleolimnological analysis has linked climate change with the proliferation of harmful blue-green algal blooms.  Dr. Smol talked about the roles of phosphorus, calcium and chloride and where they come from and how this is changing over time.  He mentioned multiple stressors, such as road salt, acid rain, longer summers, less ice and therefore less mixing.  Dr. Smol’s talk was not recorded but the slides from his presentation are available on the FOCA website.    FOCA also provided notes from a separate talk that Dr. Smol gave to the U.K. Royal Society in July 2019:

4.  Rural Road Issues - Release of the FOCA 2019  Survey results

The summary of the results from the Rural Road Survey was presented by Michelle Lewin, FOCA’s Communications Coordinator and is available at:

In between the day’s presentations we enjoyed lunch provided by the Boulevard Club.  During the lunch break you could choose to sit at a table with a discussion topic that you were interested in.  There were 10 different topics.  I choose to partake in the Land Use and Development discussion.  The majority of the participants in this discussion group had issues with development for the purpose of aggregates or trailers.  It was a very interesting discussion and the time passed too quickly.

Once again, all the information from the seminar, and other very interesting and valuable information, can be found on the FOCA website.  As a member of the RLCA you are automatically also a member of FOCA and can access information which is restricted to FOCA "members only".  Just contact FOCA : or at 1-705-749-3622 to get an access code.  You can also sign up for FOCA Elerts to get the latest info and updates.

I would like to thank the RLCA for the opportunity of attending the FOCA seminar. 
Christine Legge

16 December 2019

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Lake levels are fluctuating. On occasion you may find floating hazards, logs etc. Additionally as the lake level lowers, rock hazards may or may not be entirely visible. As always caution is advised.

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