08:30-12:30, St. Joseph's Church, Kingsbridge
Nigel Bellchamber served as facilitator for the meeting, which was attended by about 30 people representing a dozen or more member associations. Ben Van Diepenbeek, Reeve, and Doug Fines (Colborne Ward) attended representing Council. There were also several guest speakers.
Our website has been rearranged to make it easier to maintain, and hopefully easier to use. Any materials for posting should be provided in plain text or files, not PDF format.
We briefly discussed creating an address database to be able to mail information directly to residents. Various issues (must load manually, problems keeping it current) led to the conclusion that the current approach of providing information to Communication Co-ordinators and their in turn distributing the information (e-mail and/or paper) was the simplest and most effective solution. As well, most of our information is also posted on the website.
As a result of a strong lobbying effort by local members, the church has been given a reprieve for several years. Many seasonal residents attend services at the church during the summer, and it also acts a focal point for numerous social activities throughout the year. However, the school will be closed with the June, 2006 school-year end because of declining attendance.
The highway will be closed from just south of Kintail to just north of Kingsbridge this summer and fall, with detours via Kingsbridge Line. A significant portion (66% ?) of the detour paving cost is funded by the Province.
These will continue be a growing part of our landscape. EPCOR's Phase-1 consisting of 22 1.8 MW turbines is completed. Phase-2 will begin construction in the spring/summer of 2007; it will consist of a further 69 2.3 MW turbines. Tower height (80m) is the same for all of these. The Phase-2 units have a slightly longer blade, so revolve slower. All of these units are east of Highway 21. Land leases negotiated suggest a further 200 to 300 units are a future possibility, with some possibly being located west of Highway 21. A siting by-law is under review by A-C-W Township to try and establish minimum distance separations from dwellings and roads, with a public review anticipated later this summer.
The levels are slightly lower than average and haven't changed over the last couple of years.
Mike McElhone reported 2005 program results. This was the 5th year of a cooperative effort between the ACLA and the Maitland Valley Conservation Authority. Most of our ACLA membership contributions are used towards funding water sample lab costs. ACLA Township has also made an annual $1500 contribution over the past few years to help cover these lab costs. Maitland Valley Conservation Authority provides the oversight to ensure sample collecting procedure integrity and prepares the year-end summary report. ACLA participants volunteer the labour and other expenses (gas) to collect samples every 2 weeks from April 25 to Nov 16. The 2005 stream testing report will be posted on our ACLA web-site.
In summary, the shoreline watercourses continue to show e.coli pollution levels significantly above recreation level standards. All locations exceeded the recreation level standard for e.coli for at least 25% of the samples, and 3 sites exceeded this standard over 80% of the time. Many samples showed excessive levels of nitrogen and phosphorous which may be contributing to algae growth.
The 5 years of monitoring data now collected is helping to form a useful database to analyze trends, do correlations, and compare sites. For example, the 2005 season had less rainfall. The results reflect this and help draw a correlation between rainfall run-off and contaminants.
Representatives unanimously agreed to continue the program in 2006.
It seems appropriate to acknowledge Mike McElhone for his leadership and dedicated effort to ensure the success of the Stream Testing Program over the past 5 years. The program has helped focus attention on the water quality issue, and acted as a catalyst for other initiatives to better understand or improve our water quality.
This important new 2006 initiative promotes improved individual environmental stewardship. It is a collaboration of several groups that are named in the guide. ACLA supported this project and passed a motion at our 2005 meeting to contribute $1000 towards the total cost of about $100,000. The objective is to engage lakeshore residents in water quality protection.
The result is a comprehensive, easy-to-use tool to help lakefront residents do an environmental self-assessment of their practices over a dozen activity categories (eg: Before and During Construction, Private Well Water Supply, Wastewater and Septic Systems, Gardening and Landscaping, Storage and Handling of Toxic Materials, etc).
Besides giving brief background information and sources for further information, each section provides a series of questions to help you rate your own practices (best, good, fair or poor). The guide helps reinforce those practices that you do well, and identify areas where you could do better. At the end you are asked to prepare a brief action plan to address opportunities for improvement (those practices rated fair or poor).
The guide is a total 150 pages long, and estimates vary as to how long it will take to do the audit. Two of us from Amberley did it and tracked our time. A realistic estimate is about 3 hours in total, although it doesn't have to be done in one sitting.
Achieving results from this project does require a voluntary personal commitment. Two main challenges have been identified. First, committing to do the audit (versus the guide sitting on a shelf). The second is encouraging the development and follow-through on action plans. We need the active help and leadership of our member associations to encourage adoption of this guide by as many of their members as possible.
Please contact Kathy Grechuta, Coordinator,in the Huron County Planning and Development offices in Goderich (phone 519-524-8394 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Ted Howell, MOE, reviewed the results from a 2005 study which showed a large plume of increased density in the water offshore from the 18 Mile River stretching north from Ashfield Beach towards Amberley Beach. They used watercraft & measured electrical conductivity in the water to get these findings. The purpose was to plot where the river water flows after it enters the lake & not measure bacterial content.
The 2005 lakeshore water quality testing results distributed at the meeting summarized each of the 14 beaches monitored. Eyeballing the various graphs doesn't seem to show much of a difference from prior years, although Goderich Main Beach, Goderich Rotary Cove, and Port Blake Beach were somewhat higher (ie: worse) on average in 2005. In all cases the geometric mean over the summer was below the 100 level in the Provincial Water Quality Guidelines for swimming. However, for the 4 beaches whose detailed measurements were graphed over the summer season, ALL had one or more spikes during that time that exceeded the guidelines. Perhaps this variability in testing results reinforces the rule of thumb that you "should not swim in the water if you can't see your feet at waist depth of an adult".
The new 2005 voluntary Septic Re-inspection Program resulted in 29 inspections at Amberley Beach and 38 in Port Albert. Each homeowner got a written report based on information provided by the homeowner and site observations. Pilot tests of the ground penetrating radar, which it was hoped would provide better information, proved not to be effective/reliable. About 25% of the inspections resulted in recommendations for some modest form of corrective action. One system had failed and the owner was voluntarily replacing it. Generally residents were positive about the re-inspection, and the majority had pumped out their system within the past 3 to 5 years.
HCHU is planning on doing a further 500 re-inspections over the 2006 summer. Residents are asked to call 1-877-837-6143 to arrange an appointment. It would be very helpful to call HCHU as early as possible. They can then group the inspections to the various beach locations, thus making more efficient use of their resources assigned to this project.
The Province is conducting a review of local Health Units capabilities to handle a pandemic. A report was prepared May 4 with 50 recommendations. One of these was to amalgamate Health Units including Grey Bruce/Huron/Perth/ and one other county. A key question is IF that amalgamation took place, how would it impact important and unique local programs? Two examples are the lakeshore water quality testing which for many years has been far more extensive than regulations require, and the 2005 start-up septic re-inspection program which was to continue in 2006 and beyond.
The Clean Beaches Council (USA) issued this report which reviewed some newer thinking on the relationship between the near-shore sand (first 5 meters from the water) and lakeshore water pollution. They found that the levels of e.coli concentrations in those sands were 5 to 10 times higher than in the adjacent lake water. Further, they found the nearshore sand was an ideal host environment resulting in high levels of bacterial contaminant survivability, and even the ability to replicate. They found high levels of contamination in the sand even where there was no indication of nearby human contamination. It raised questions as the extent to which lakeshore water pollution results from bacteria in the adjacent near shore sand.
The Canadian federal government has being doing similar studies right here in Ontario, including at Amberley Beach, and the conclusions were the same as the above. Further, tests at these locations showed that the contamination in the near shore sands was not coming from nearby septic systems.
This near-shore sands issue suggests people take appropriate common sense precautions, particularly with children, such as washing hands, after playing in the sand or water, before handling food.
To calculate your 2006 tax, simply multiply $1305 times each $100,000 in your latest assessment. For example, a property assessed at $300,000 would pay $3915 in 2006 property taxes. Any specific services such as drinking water would be additional.
NOTE: in late June, the Province announced that assessments will be frozen at current levels for the next 2 years (2007, 2008). The property taxes will still change related to local spending needs.
Recognize that fire trucks cannot get access to service many cottages on narrow cottage roads with limited turn-around capabilities. This can also impact insurance rates.
The mail-in ballot will be continued for the Fall 2006 election. This approach, lobbied for by the ACLA a few years back, has resulted in an almost equal participation level of around 60% by both rural and lakeshore residents even though the majority of lakeshore residents are seasonal. Continued high levels of participation will help ensure continuation of the mail-in ballot. Note that this time, elections will be for a 4 year term vs the current 3 years.
Adopted a few years ago in response to community concerns with factory farm operations is being rescinded. Provincial regulations, which in some regards are not as strict, supersede the local bylaw.
The 20006 conference will be Saturday August 26, again at the Goderich Arena. This highly recommended conference is sponsored by the Huron County Health Unit and Huron County Lakefront associations including the ACLA. This will the third year for this conference, which is informative, well-attended (over 200), and includes a number of guest speakers and exhibits. Feedback for both the past 2 years has been very positive. There is a nominal fee to cover out-of-pocket costs. Further information to follow, but suggest you mark in your calendar.
The annual contribution will remain the same again in 2006, at $10 for each member in your member association. Please make cheques payable to the Ashfield Colborne Lakefront Association, and include the name of your association on the cheque. Forward to our Treasurer, Carolyn Carter, at 906 Baker Ave. S, Listowel, ON, N4W 3B7 ... or you can also mail your cheque to ACLA, PO Box 277, Goderich, ON, N7A3Z2.