Communications Coordinators meeting, 2008-05-10

09:00-12:00 Saturday May 10
St. Joseph's Church basement, Kingsbridge

Opening remarks and introductions

Roger Watt, meeting facilitator.

ACLA Communications Coordinators and alternates: 21, representing 15 of the 29 lakefront areas in ACW Township.

ACW Council: Connie Black (Councillor, Colborne ward), Marilyn Miltenburg (Councillor, Ashfield ward), Ben VanDiepenbeek (Reeve).

Other invited guests: Phil Beard (MVCA), Pam Scharfe (Huron County Health Unit), Monica Walker-Bolton (Huron County Planning and Development).

Treasurer's report for 2007 (Jim Baird)

Jim reported a starting bank balance of $7,531 and an ending balance of $7,805 for the fiscal year ending 2008-04. The primary expense was the cost of the annual stream-testing lab analyses; 2007 was a very dry season, so the $6,220 cost was about $3,000 less than expected. We thank ACW Township for its contribution of $2,000 towards stream testing last year, and its commitment to increase its contribution to $2,500 this year.

The annual per-property ACLA membership fee will have to increase if a full season of stream testing were to occur in 2008, and to sustain the objective of maintaining a reserve sufficient to cover one year's expenditures. (See second-last item below.)

ACLA Steering Committee report (Roger Watt)

Roger summarized the 2007-09 planning meeting. The mission statement was reaffirmed. Our top 2 priorities for the immediate future are a healthy beach environment for our children, and increased outreach to our potential members and others in Huron County. This will include a renewed membership drive and an increased publicity effort.

Other output from the planning session included seeking additional funding for our water-quality testing, and developing a proposal to ACW for funding assistance for maintenance of assumed lakefront roads.

ACLA Environmental Team report (Mike McElhone)

Mike summarized the activities of ACLA contributors to protect and improve Huron County's water quality.

2007 stream testing

ACLA continued in its partnership with MVCA to test 12 sites for E.coli, Nitrate and Total Phosphorus on a bi-weekly basis from early spring to late fall. However, 2007 turned out to be the driest summer in 60 years; 5 of the 12 streams stopped flowing, cutting our total number of samples for the year by about 30%. Due to the dry conditions, test results were somewhat better than normal, but we had 16 samples that were in excess of ten times the acceptable limit for E.coli. There was only one significant rain event.

Mike thanked ACW for its contribution of $2,000, and noted that in addition to the laboratory and courier costs, volunteers donate about 4,000km of vehicle use and about $100 of other materials.

2008 stream testing

We will be doing the same 12 sites for a total of 6 dates. It is important that we continue this research, as it is being used by other agencies. The Source Water Protection Watershed Characterization cites ACLA research several times. The condition of Lake Huron is important, as in excess of 80% of Ontario residents drink surface water. The cost for stream testing in 2008 will be approximately $9,250 if we have a full testing season. The Township will be contributing $2,500 this year.

We also intend to do a one-day test of the pollution in the swash zone at 15-20 member cottages. The total cost will be about $200.

IT ALL ENDS UP IN THE LAKE -- August 23, 2008

ACLA co-sponsors this event with the Bluewater Shoreline Residents Association, Bayfield Ratepayers Association, Friends of the Bayfield River, and the Huron County Health Unit.

The event in 2007 drew 146 attendees, including the greatest number of local officials yet. It was also attended by our MPP Carol Mitchell and a few party nominees. Our keynote speaker was Doctor Kristi Duncan, a professor at University of Toronto and a recently appointed nominee for the federal Liberal party in Toronto.

This year's workshop will be at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Goderich at 9am. Our keynote speaker will be Gord Miller, Ontario's Environmental Commissioner. This year's focus will be on the actions required to clean up our lakes and streams.

Source Water Protection

Mike has been appointed as the Landowner Association representative for the ABCA/MVCA watershed. Roger Watt has joined the Kingsbridge Working Group, one of five groups within the 2 watersheds. All of the research and implementation material emphasizes that all decisions must be science based. Hopefully this will reduce the confrontation levels.

Lake Huron Southeast Lake Quality Information Sharing Group

After ACLA received all of the publicity in 2003, the Ministry of Environment created the Huron County Science Committee with participation by MOE, MNR, HCHU, EC, OMAFRA, DFO and others. Significant research and information was shared. MOE began an extensive research project on 18 Mile River. Unfortunately the group was shut down after one year. In an effort to prevent the efforts going to waste, the MOE conducts 2 meetings a year allowing those doing monitoring or research to share information. The 18 Mile River research will be introduced by Dr. Todd Howell of MOE at the IS THE COAST CLEAR workshop in Port Elgin on May 23rd.

TD Canada Trust Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup

We need to decide if we are willing to take part in this effort this September. BSRA, FOBR and BRA all take part.

Huron County Health Unit report (Pam Scharfe, HCHU)

2007 Beach Testing

HCHU sampled from June 5 to August 28, doing 2 tests per week at Amberley, Ashfield Park, and Port Albert, with 1 test per week at Sunset.

Amberley tests were within safe limits 87.5% of the time. Ashfield tests were within safe limits 79% of the time. Port Albert tests were within safe limits 71% of the time. Sunset Beach tests were within safe limits 93% of the time.

It was a very dry year. The lake was often calm and clear, and on several days the lake was rough but still clear. The testers often saw turkey vultures on the beach, perhaps due to the lower lake levels and the increased shoreline.

2008 Beach Testing

The Ministry of Health has introduced a beach-testing protocol and is asking for input by the Health Units. The HCHU is asking the MOH to establish an expert panel to examine possible techniques and technologies resulting in improved beach water quality. The Health Unit is exploring using predictive water quality forecasting at the beaches at Goderich Rotary Cove and Bayfield Main. It is also considering daily Monday to Friday at these beaches.

Septic System Re-inspections

Between 2005 and 2007, HCHU inspected systems, with 25% having problems in the first 2 years and 38% in 2007 when the inspection was upgraded to a tank inspection. The primary cause of problems was the installation of landscaping, parking, and structures over the bed.

HCHU is recommending that Huron County implement a mandatory septic re-inspection and pump-out with a 5 year cycle; every system would be testing every 5 years. Systems that have already been inspected would not be inspected in the first 5 year cycle. There will be a cost recovery charge for the service.

Small Drinking Water Systems

In 2009, MOE is transferring responsibility to the Health Units for small/seasonal systems with more than 6 residencs on a well. HCHU has appointed Bob Worsell as the person responsible. Bob is available to provide advice to concerned landowners. Pam cautioned that residents not panic (the regualtions are much less stringent than for municipal systems), and to consult with Bob before drilling new wells.

Thanks and best wishes

Pam will be retiring next February. Roger thanked her for her contributions to ACLA and expressed our hopes to see her come back in a new shoreline-resident role.

MVCA regulations affecting lakefront properties (Phil Beard, MVCA)

In 2007, a Shoreline Working Group was formed with representatives from various constituencies (Roger Watt represents ACLA). The resulting new procedures to protect the shoreline are posted on the MVCA website. A chain-of-authority procedure has been created allowing residents to contact the Building Official in their Township, with that person deciding whether other agencies need to be involved.

For 2008, funding has been provided to MVCA to the flood/erosion/dynamic-beach mapping that was last done in 1983. Little change is expected in areas like Amberley, with significant change in areas like Horizon View. The deadline for this mapping work is September, with the final report expected in 2009.

Additional 2008 activities will include developing an agreement with HCHU re the siting of new/replacment septic systems, and developing an outreach/education program for property owners.

Vehicles on the beach (Beth Ross)

It is not always easy to determine who owns what parts of the shoreline and what jurisdiction MNR has. Most beach associations are split on whether motorized vehicles should be allowed. There was general agreement that more discussion is needed.

Sustainable Huron (Monica Walker-Bolton, HCPD)

The Huron County Planning and Development department is in the process of developing a plan for Huron County's long-term well-being, and conducting a 5-year review of the County's Official Plan. The Planning Department is inviting resident input on environment, economic and social issues. Monica distributed a short questionnaire and encouraged attendees to participate. There will be a public meeting at 7pm May 21 at the Huron County Museum. ACLA members are encouraged to attend.

Unassumed lakefront roads (Robert Stephenson)

A first-draft proposal prepared by Nigel Bellchamber was distributed for discussion.

A unassumed road is a road that is owned by the Township, but is not up to Township standards and is not maintained by the Township. There are about 54 kms of unassumed road in the Township.

In Bluewater Township, landowner associations receive approximately $1,000 per kilometer per year for maintenance and repairs of unassumed roads. Funds can be accumulated for up to 3 years. Receipts for expenditures must be submitted. Liability insurance must be maintained, roads can not be declared private and there may not be gates.

Rob suggested that a similar system in ACW would be a fair means of maintaining the unassumed lafefront roads. He indicated that it should not be necessary to bring them up to the 66 foot Township standard, due to seasonal usage and few residences on the roads. Research showed that this would cost the Township approximately $12,000 per year, less than 1% of its yearly road budget.

ACW Reeve Ben VanDiepenbeek indicated that lakefront associations should not have to maintain insurance on unassumed Township roads, since ACW has liability insurance on all of its roads. However, he anticipated that Council would not likely be willing to adopt the Bluewater model. He said that ACW would pay 1/3 of the cost to bring an east-west road (connecting the north-south lakeside cottage road to Highway 21) up to Township specifications, with the landowners covering the rest. ACW would then assume the road and cover all future maintenance and repairs. He added that this is unlikely for the north-south cottage roads, since most of them cannot be upgraded to the Township specifications.

Further work is required on any ACLA proposal before it will be ready to submit to ACW Council for consideration.

ACW report (Ben VanDiepenbeek, Reeve)

Taxes will be increasing approximately 3% in 2008, with a tax rate of $1,360 on $100,000 of residential tax valuation. 33% of the amount goes to ACW, 48% to the County, and 19% to the province for education. ACW raises $2.5M of its $5.1M from the tax levy.

Considerable paving and repaving will be done this year. ACW received an unexpected $1,145,000 from the province for road and bridge repairs.

The province had planned on repaving and improving Highway 21 this year, but there is no indication of anything happening.

Huron County has re-approved the Clean Water Project, which provides funding for well upgrades, pollution reduction, and educational projects. Mike McElhone commented that "It All Ends Up In The Lake" receives a grant of $3,000 from the funding.

ACLA member-association fee for 2008

It is generally-accepted "best practice" that an organization such as ACLA should maintain a bank balance sufficient to fully cover all expenses for one year of operation in the absence of any other sources of income. Funding the 2008 activities and achieving this objective requires an increase in the contribution requested from each ACLA member association, which to date has been $10 per lakefront property.

Eric Holmes made a motion that ACLA dues be increased from $10 per member cottage to $15. Judy Crawford seconded the motion. There was considerable discussion, including the importance of continuing stream testing. It was also deemed important to get our membership back up to past levels. Roger Watt and Barb Holmes have agreed to work on contacting all non-involved beach associations. Mike McElhone stated that we have not increased our frequency or volume of stream testing -- the 100% increase in cost since 2001 has been totally due to increased lab costs due to consolidation in the industry.

The motion was brought to a vote and was passed unanimously.

It was noted that the lakefront associations operate on differing fiscal-year schedules, and some will not be able to incorporate this increase into their budget planning until next year.

Beth Ross distributed an invoice template that each lakefront association can use when forwarding its contribution to ACLA's treasurer. Roger Watt will develop on online equivalent.

Other issues for ACLA attention

Judy Crawford encouraged ACLA members to donate towards the new CT scanner at the Goderich Hospital. Port Albert residents have already made a significant donation. The County has pledged $500,000 and ACW Council has pledged $100,000.

Roger Watt and Beth Ross will work on an "ACLA information sheet" for inclusion in the Goderich-businesses package that is delivered to each cottage every spring. Deadline is in three weeks.

Compiled by Roger Watt from meeting notes taken by Mike McElhone. Last updated 2008-05-16 at 08:40.