Coordinators Meeting 2007-05-12

08:30-12:00 Saturday May 12
Chisholm Retreat, 84655 Bluewater Highway

Opening Remarks and Introductions

Attended by about 25 people representing 13 member associations. Ben VanDiepenbeek (Reeve) and Marilyn Miltenburg (Ashfield Ward) attended from ACW Council.

Treasurer's Report

Jim Baird is our new Treasurer, taking over from Carolyn Carter. See Carolyn's report below.

Essentially, our income and expenses over the past year have been about the same, leaving us a working capital balance of $7500. However, our stream-testing lab fees, which are our main expense, have almost doubled to $10,000 per year as a result of lab organization consolidation. Maitland Valley Conservation Authority assisted this past year by covering courier costs. It was agreed to leave member dues at $10 per member in each association for this year. Mike McElhone will brief ACW Council on the 2006 Stream testing Project results, and request an increase in ACW's donation from $1500 to $2500 for 2007.

Member Associations are asked to send their 2007 contributions to

ACLA c/o Jim Baird
343 Ascot Place
Waterloo, Ontario  N2J 3V9

Please identify your Association on the cheque to help Jim with his records. These contributions are our main source of funding and are greatly appreciated.

Financial Activity for operating year 2006

We are unable to correctly attribute the three "?" 2006 contributions at the end of "Member Associations" below. If you can identify to which organizations they belong, please let us know, and thanks.

Bank balance 2006-05-05             $7,061.16

  Bank interest            $7.64
  ACW Township         $1,500.00
  Member Associations
    Amberley Beach       $790.00
    Ashield Beach             --
    Horizon View Estates $380.00
    Kintail Beach        $300.00
    Huron Sands North         --
    Huron Sands          $380.00
    Shamrock Beach       $240.00
    Huron Shores         $280.00
    Birch Beach               --
    Lakeland Estates          --
    Mid Huron            $600.00
    Maple Grove          $220.00
    Cedar Grove          $210.00
    Port Albert North         --
    Port Albert          $580.00
    Victoria Beach            --
    Green Acres Cove          --
    Brindley Beach            --
    Linfield Beach            --
    Hunter's Beach       $250.00
    Bogie's Beach        $400.00
    Sunset               $240.00
    ? Menestung Park     $270.00
    ? Menestung Park     $250.00 
    ?                    $330.00

subtotal                         $14,288.80

  Bank charges            $17.50
  Stream Testing       $6,301.95
  Meeting costs           $87.60
  Canada Post box        $210.00
  Website                $139.60
  total                $6,756.65

Bank balance 2007-03-14           $7,532.15

Environmental Team Report -- Mike McElhone

ACLA contributors participate in a number of activities designed to improve the quality of the lake and stream water in our part of Huron County.

It All Ends Up In The Lake


ACLA in cooperation with Bluewater Shoreline Residents Association, Friends of the Bayfield River, and the Huron County Health Unit hosted IAEUITL. Nigel Bellchamber, Beth Ross and Mike McElhone work on the committee. The committee was extremely lucky to convince Maude Barlow of the Council of Canadians to speak and waive her normal $5,000 fee. Once again we drew approximately 160 paid attendees and the largest turnout of elected officials so far.


The event will be Saturday August 11, 08:30-12:30, at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Goderhich. The theme this year will be a "report card" on what we have accomplished with our environmental efforts over the last several years, and the state of the lake and our streams.

Stream Testing


2006 was the 6th year that ACLA in partnership with MVCA conducted a stream testing programme. Once again we began testing 12 streams stretching along highway 21. Early in the year we lost 3 of the streams due to culvert construction. The costs of the laboratory analyses were funded by contributions from ACLA's member associations plus $1500 from ACW Township. Lab costs have almost doubled since we started due to consolidation in the industry. To assist us in keeping our costs under control, MVCA paid for the courier costs last year.

See the report prepared by Rick Steele, MVCA (PDF, 884K). Generally, all three pollutants are at unsafe levels most of the time. Of 162 tests for e.coli, only 33 (20%) met the MVCA long-term goal of having all streams meet the Ontario Provincial Water Quality Standard of less than 100 cfu per 100 ml. We did not have any tests that exceeded 10,000 this year, but the general levels were up. The average was 904 cfu/100ml. Several of the sites had nitrate levels high enough to cause damage to aquatic life and phosphorus levels that would promote algae growth.


We started testing on May 1 with intent to continue to late November. Lab costs have increased again, pushing the total cost to close to $10,000. Last year Mike McElhone submitted a request to ACW Council that it increase its contribution to a minimum of $2,500. We hope this was passed in the ACW budget.


The pollution issue is getting more attention. However, it was agreed that the pressure for action must be continued. One opportunity could be the anticipated Provincial election this Fall, and the candidate meetings leading up to that, as well as approaching candidates individually. One notion that has been floated in some quarters is to relax the standard from 100 cfu per 100 ml to 200 cfu per 100 ml. ACLA members are asked to voice strong opposition to any such proposal. It should be noted that the Huron County Health Unit opposes such a change.

Committee participation

For the last two years Mike McElone has been a member of MVCA's Water Action Team, and Heinz Puhlmann has been a member of Huron County's Water Protection Steering Committee. (Heinz has now retired from the ACLA Steering Committee and Roger Watt has replaced him on Huron's WPS Committee.)

National Beach Conference

Together with Bob Slow (BSRA) and Pam Scharfe (HCHU), Mike McElhone attended the National Beach Conference hosted by the US EPA in Niagara Falls NY. This event was much more technical than the Great Lakes Beach Conference the year before in Green Bay. The GLB conference this year will be in Traverse City Michigan in the fall.

Beach problems vary by region. The problems near major cities tend to be sewer overflows, while rural problems tend to be agricultural runoff. There was an interesting study presented by Environment Canada's Dr. Alan Crowe. They tested the water and beach sands in front of a number of cottages on Lake Huron and Georgian Bay (ACLA's Dave Cooper agreed to have his cottage tested). The results showed that properly maintained septic systems do not flow through the banks and beach sand to the lake. Of all cottages tested, only one system was polluting; part of the tile bed had been washed away and a small quantity of sewage was flowing into the adjacent stream.

Much attention is now given to the e.coli contained in the beach sand. Researchers are finding that e.coli levels in the swash zone (the always-wet area that extends several yards from the water's edge) can be 20 to 30 times of the levels in the water. Apparently, always-wet beach sand is a perfect incubator for pathogens.

Huron County Beach Testing

Pam Scharfe had agreed to be here to report on HCHU's 2006 testing programme but was forced to cancel at the last minute when she was scheduled for eye surgery on Thursday. Mike McElhone obtained a copy of the report yesterday, and provided the following overview.

Water quality and safety at our 4 ACW lakefront beaches in 2006 was slightly better than the 3 year average and slightly worse than the 5 year average. However, 2006 was a drier than normal year.

Amberley was tested 19 times in 2006. The results were above the PWQS 9 times (47%) with one very ugly test on July 18th when the geometric mean of the 5 results was 4569 cfu/100 ml. You will note on the MVCA report that there was a very heavy rainfall in ACW on the 18th. The average of all 19 tests was 402.

Ashfield Beach was tested 25 times with 7 tests (28%) exceeding the standard. The highest geometric mean was 385. The average was 78.

Port Albert Beach was tested 21 times with 7 tests (33%) exceeding the standard. The highest test was 358. The average was 103.

Sunset Beach was tested 16 times with 2 results (12%) over the standard. The highest test was 253 and the average was 48.

Last year, Mike gave a quick presentation on a real-time beach water testing system that is installed on the beaches in Lake County, Illinois. It is a steel post in the water with several instruments measuring conditions such as turbidity, wind, waves, etc. It has proven to accurately assess water safety in excess of 90% of the time. Grand Bend is installing a similar but much more expensive system in the near future.

Source Water Protection

Ontario's Clean Water Act and associated provincial direction mandate a local Source Protection Planning Committee of key affected stakeholder sectors to guide local watershed source water protection planning over the coming years. In this area, the Ausable Bayfield and Maitland Valley Partnership on Source Water Protection has the responsibility for the development of a plan by the local community, and is looking for representatives from the lakefront community to sit on a working group. We believe this involves about 8 day-long meetings over the next year.

Voluntary Septic Tank Re-inspection Program

Another 175 inspections took place last year by the Huron County Health Unit (HCHU), and resources will support a further 200 in 2007. HCHU hopes to obtain approval by mid-June for an incentive rebate that can be used to significantly lower your costs for a combined pumpout and inspection. It would apply to systems older than 10 years that have not already undertaken an HCHU inspection. The grant would be for 50% of the pumpout cost to a maximum of $75. The owner would be required to coordinate between the HCHU and the pumper to ensure an HCHU representative is there to do the inspection at the time of the pumpout. HCHU provides owners with site maps and documentation as a follow-up to their inspection.

Experience has shown that owners should get competitive bids from pumpers and there is a cost savings (about 10%?) if several owners coordinate together. Even if the grant is not approved, it makes sense to coordinate with HCHU for a re-inspection during a pumpout.

ACLA has very actively promoted a septic tank re-inspection program for all residents and we are pleased that Huron County and the Health Unit have responded.

Lake Huron Coastline Stewardship Guide

Susanna Reid (Planner, Huron County Planning and Development) highlighted the Huron Stewardship website.

The Stewardship self-assessment environmental guide for lakefront residents was described in detail in last year's ACLA meeting. Experience has shown the best way to use the Guide is for several interested residents to coordinate a workshop with a facilitator present to help review the Guide and answer any questions. Members are encouraged to participate in the program. This year, facilitation is being coordinated by the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (1-888-286-2610). Several groups have turned workshops into a combined fun/work social/environmental event by adding in a few burgers on the grill.

Regulations affecting lakefront properties

If you intend to make any modifications to your property, Kirk Livingston, the Chief Building Official for ACW, is the best person to contact to discuss your plans. He can then advise whether/what other regulating bodies will need to be involved.

The Huron County Health Unit has authority over regulations and procedures pertaining to septic systems.

The Maitland Valley Conservation Authority is responsible for administering Ontario Regulation 164/06 in our area. In essence, the Regulation specifies that no modifications (construction, clearing of banks, alteration of waterways, etc) may be made on lakefront/ravine/wetland properties without MVCA's permission. The Ontario Planning Act requires that ACW Township integrate this into its procedures, which ACW is doing with its new consolidated zoning bylaw.

MVCA has formed a Shoreline Working Group to develop long-term policies for use in making decisions regarding development applications proposed within the regulated areas of the Lake Huron shoreline within MVCA's area of jurisdiction. The mandate of the working group is to:

  1. Develop recommendations on the policies that should be used to make decisions on development applications proposed within the regulated areas along the shoreline.
  2. Identify an outreach and education program on shoreline hazards and ecological resources located along the shoreline.
  3. Oversee the updating of mapping and information related to the dynamic beach and flood/erosion risk areas of the shoreline.

The Shoreline Working Group will also identify ways to coordinate and integrate the review process for new development proposed along the shoreline between the Township, the County's Health Unit, and MVCA. The members of the SWG are:

The SWG is to complete its work before the end of 2008.

Unassumed Roads

Nigel Bellchamber reviewed this topic, which has been discussed before. Bluewater (south of Goderich) provides an example of the opportunity. There, $75,000 is allotted to 44 associations with a minimum $1,000 and a maximum to compensate them for the fact that they maintain their own roads. ACW offers only one choice -- upgrade the road to Township standards on a shared-cost basis (1/3 Township, 2/3 residents), after which the Township provides maintainenance. The question is "Why won't ACW offer us the alternative of financial assistance to continue to maintain the road ourselves if that is a better alternative?". Achieving a change will require a strong and persuasive lobby to Council before they begin establishing their annual budget in the Fall. Associations that would benefit from a policy change by Council are encouraged to contact Nigel and offer their active support.

ACW Township

EPCOR's Kingsbridge 2 wind-turbine project has been delayed due to turbine supplies (nacells ordered now won't be delivered until 2009 or 2010) and resolution of Township setback standards. There has been considerable concern expressed by some that the 400 metre setback from an adjacent residence is not adequate.

Property taxes are up from $1305 per $100,000 assessment last year to $1330 this year. ACW had a increase of 3%, Huron County an increase of 3.95%, and the Education component was flat. Your taxes are split 33% municipal, 40% county, and 27% education. Add any special assessments (eg, water) to those figures.

The Township is making investments in roads West of Hwy21 (eg: Huron Sands Road, Bogies Beach Road, and the purchase of land to enable the widening of MacKenzie Camp Road).

There will be a permanent Hazard Waste facility provided at Holmsville this summer.

A new roving Ambulance approach will hopefully improve future response times with a target of 15 minutes being set.

Clean brush can be taken to the landfill site for free (open Saturdays and Monday mornings).


Beth Ross indicated that Tourism figures are up, and that it is a very important part of out local economy. Tourism and the environment are closely linked and we should use tourism's economic benefits as an important argument in our efforts to lobby for environmental improvement.

The Goderich Chamber of Commerce is re-issuing its Business Directory. ACLA Coordinators will arrange distribution within their lakeshore areas.

ATVs on the beach

There is lots of concern about joyriders, support for handicapped access to beach, concern about damage to sand dunes and other sensitive areas, and danger to children playing on beach.

At Port Albert, no motorized vehicles are allowed in the area from 400m north of the river to 300m south of the river. Nova Scotia has new regulations for ATVs banning from sensitive econsystems, including beaches, sand dunes, streams, and lake shores.

Rod Jervis and Beth Ross will follow up with Ministry of Natural Resources to try to get some attention on these issues.

Thanks to two retiring founding members

We would like to acknowledge the very significant contributions of two founding members who have helped to guide the workings of the ACLA since its earliest days as the Ashfield Lakefront Association. Their contribution have been a critical element of ACLA's success over these formative years.

Dave Cooper

For many years, Dave organized and chaired the member-association meetings, and represented the Amberley Beach association. Dave has decided that the time has come to retire from participation in ACLA.

Heinz Puhlmann

Heinz has been a very active contributor, participated in a number of special projects and initiatives, coordinated our ACLA website, assisted with e-mail distribution and providing information, and most recently was ACLA's representative on the Huron County Water Protection Steering Committee. Heinz is retiring from the Steering Committee but will continue his participation as the Communications Coordinator for Huron Sands North. Roger Watt has assumed these Steering Committee responsibilities.

Compiled by Roger Watt from a report from Mike McElhone and meeting notes from Dave Cooper and Beth Ross (ACLA Steering Committee), plus a memo from Phil Beard (MVCA). Last updated 2007-06-27.