Communications Coordinators meeting, 2009-05-09

09:00-12:20 Saturday May 9, 2009
St. Joseph's Church basement, Kingsbridge

Opening remarks, introduction of invited guests

Roger Watt, meeting facilitator. Identify the most important thing that you want to see addressed at this meeting, and we will discuss those not covered below in the "other issues" closing item.

ACLA Communications Coordinators and alternates: 18, representing 14 of ACW's 29 lakefront areas: Amberley Beach, Bogie's Beach, Cedar Grove, Horizon View, Huron Sands, Huron Shores, Kintail Beach, Lakeland Estates, Lake Huron Resort, Maple Grove, Mid-Huron Beach, Port Albert, Shamrock Beach, Sunset Beach.

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

Other invited guests: Bob Worsell (Huron County Health Unit), Phil Beard and Steve Jackson (MVCA), Deane Waite (MNR Conservation Officer).

Treasurer's report (Jim Baird)

Jim Baird (Amberley Beach) reported a starting ACLA bank balance of $7,805 and a closing balance of $10,906 for the period 2008-05 through 2009-04 (due to the fact that ACLA's 2008 stream-testing lab costs were lower than anticipated). ACLA thanks ACW Council for its contribution of $2,500 towards those costs, and its continued support for the 2009 stream testing.

Glen Gardiner (Port Albert) reiterated his concerns that ACLA must continue to explain the reasons for these costs and the benefits to the lakefront community that result from each contributor's $15.

The 2009 cheque for the requested $15 per ratepayer from each particpating lakefront association should be made payable to "Ashfield-Colborne Lakefront Association" and sent to Jim Baird, 343 Ascot Place, Waterloo Ontario, N2J 3V9.

ACLA environmental programs (Mike McElhone)

2008 stream-testing results

The 2008 sampling marked the 8th year of the cooperative arrangement between ACLA and MVCA. Since 2003, we have monitored the levels of E.coli, nitrates, and phosphorus in 12 of the streams sampled in 2001. ACLA participants do the testing, and MVCA arranges for the analysis and produces the annual report. Funding is from the annual contributions of the particpating ACLA lakefront associations, with much-appreciated donations from ACW Council.

Throughout 2008, 11 streams exceeded the Ontario recreational limit of 100cfu/100mL, 11 streams exceeded the Aquatic Environmental Standard for nitrates, and 5 streams exceeded the Ontario Drinking Water Standard for phosphorus.

Follow-up to 2009 UoGuelph/MOE research report confirming that dominant source of E.Coli is agricultural runoff

This 8-page document reports the results of a study conducted in 2005 and 2006 in the area surrounding the outflow of the 18 Mile River watershed. The research resulted from a meeting between ACLA representatives and MOE after the publication of ACLA's DNA samplings in 2003. The publication of the UoG/MOE report in the Canadian Journal of Microbiology has received wide-spread attention in the media.

We will be asking for a meeting with the Ministers of Environment, Natural Resources, Health, and Farming/Agriculture, to stress that this water-quality problem has wide-spread health impacts and to seek their commitment to follow-up programs that will help the farming community reduce the impacts of agricultural runoff.

Stream-testing plans for 2009 and beyond

We will continue the existing stream-testing program for 2009. After that, depending on the outcome of the above follow-up effort, some altered strategy may be appropriate. We believe it will be necessary to continue some form of monitoring until such time as improvements can be proven.

We intended to do a one-day test of the pollution in the swash zone at 15-20 volunteer cottages last summer, but that didn't happen, so we will do it this summer.

Ausable Bayfield Maitland Valley Source Drinking Water Protection

The Committee (Mike McElhone is a member) and its six local-area working groups (Roger Watt is a member of the Kingsbridge group) have been meeting regularly for almost two years. The working groups will finish their tasks this summer. The committee will require about another three years to complete the development of recommendations that the province then will turn into regulations.

It All Ends Up In The Lake

This annual event was started five years ago to focus the attention of provincial and local politicians on the need to resolve the water-quality problems. It has attracted 120-150 attendees in the past, and has had some successes. However, interest is beginning to fade; last year, attendance dropped to about 80. The organizing committee will be meeting soon to discuss alternatives.


Those present expressed sincere thanks to Mike for all of his work and the many successes and benefits it has attained over the years.

Huron County Health Unit update (Bob Worsell)

A student hired for the summer will soon begin work on compiling HCHU's 2008 water quality beach-testing results; they should be available before summer. Testing of public-beach areas will continue in 2009.

The mandatory septic-system reinspection program that was intended to start in 2009 will not start until at least 2010 or later. Ontario's transfer of responsibility to the Health Units for overseeing small private drinking-water systems (those servicing 6 or more properties) requires that the system be registered with and regularly inspected by the Health Unit.

MVCA update (Phil Beard and Steve Jackson)

Property development within the 100-year erosion limit

Completion of the Shoreline Working Group tasks includes finalizing and publishing the flood/erosion/dynamic-beach mapping, which should be completed in a few months. The other items are an agreement with HCHU re siting of new/replacment septic systems, and an outreach/education program for property owners.

Climate trends and impact on erosion

We will continue to experience more snow and heavier rains, which will continue to increase the impacts on gully erosion and bluff slumping. These are natural process that are impossible to eliminate. MVCA will be developing literature on how to slow down the impacts of erosion. Anyone wishing to undertake stabilization measures must first obtain a permit from MVCA. Please contact MVCA to discuss any concerns re your lakefront area.

Additional MVCA priorities for 2009

Soil and water environmental enhancement plans. Flood emergency planning for municipalities. Developing a strategic plan. Watershed report cards. Community-based conservation education programs. Watershed conservation fund feasibility project. Ontario drinking-water stewardship program. (For more information, see the MVCA May 2009 Factsheet).

Reducing stormwater erosion and keeping water clean

Phil invited the ACLA participants to tour the Scott farm to see how stormwater management and soil/water conservation can be built into a municipal drainage project and why it is needed. A list of dates will be distributed.

The Scott project involved the creation of grassed waterways to carry surface water to protected outlets, diversion berms to divert the flow of surface water into wetlands, new wetlands, water and sediment control berms to hold agricultural runoff and release it slowly through hickenbottom drains into the wetlands, the re-routing of existing field tile into the wetlands, improved stream crossings, the planting of trees and shrubs to create shelter berms, rock chutes and sediment traps that create low-flow water refuge pools for fish, and filtering technologies that have been successful in removing 100% of the farm-runoff nitrates from the water.

Role of the MNR Conservation Officer (Deane Waite)

Deane gave an excellent 20-minute visual presentation on the role of the Ministry of Natural resources in enforcing the 27 different acts and legistation pertaining to the province's natural resources, focusing on those most relevant to the lakefront community (eg, uses of crown-land public beaches, operation of motorized vehicles and beachfront ownership versus rights of passage, etc). Unfortunately, not all of the presentation material is in the MNR webspace, so the following is an attempt to capture the critical points relevant to the Lake Huron beaches.

The information registered with the County for a lakefront property either defines the boundaries based on survey points, or states that the lakeside edge of the property extends to the water. This varies up and down the shoreline. There are crown-land beach areas in which the operation of motorized vehicles is banned (eg, a few hundred meters north and south of the river in Port Albert, and the provincial parks). For the rest of the lakeshore, MNR operates on the principle that vehicles (ATVs, motor bikes, etc) can be driven along the beach in the wave-uprush zone (the area from the water up to where storms deposit debris), provided that all relevant provincial laws are obeyed (vehicle licence visible, operator wearing proper helmet, no alcohol, etc).

If you have any questions or concerns about these matters or events on the beach in front of your property, call the MNR hotline at 1-877-TIPSMNR (847-7667). It is staffed 24x7.

Unassumed lakefront roads (Nigel Bellchamber)

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 ACW, mostly serving the seasonal lakefront properties. If the property owners along such a road are willing to pay 2/3rds of the cost to have ACW bring the road up to ACW specifications, ACW will then assume responsibility for on-going maintenance. Nigel is working with Brian Van Osch (ACW Public Works) to identify those roads that cannot be upgraded to meet ACW's specfications for one reason or another, and will report when the information is available.

ACW Council update (Ben VanDiepenbeek, Reeve)

The ACW lakefront community accounts for about 1/3rd of ACW's 2009 residential tax base. The amount of money raised through property taxes has increased by about 1% (about $25,000) in the ACW budget for 2009.

This year's road-improvement work west of Highway 21 includes the paving of Huron Sands Road, and reconstruction work on Horizon View Road and Brindley Beach Road. Next year, the paving of Mid-Huron Beach Road is on the list of possible considerations.

Significant drainage-improvement work is scheduled for Port Albert along London Road to support new housing developments.

A scale will be installed at the ACW land-fill site; this will replace the current per-entry vehicle fee.

There is still no firm date for the province's planned repaving of the ACW portion of Highway 21.

There may be some grants under the Huron County clean-water program that are applicable to those proposing to undertake approved erosion-reduction work; contact MVCA for details.

Other issues

This closing item was seeded by the "top concern" input requested from each Communications Coordinator at the beginning of the meeting.

Communicating ACLA's value

Robert Stephenson (Shamrock Beach) suggested that we clarify the top three values that ACLA provides to the lakefront community. Nigel Bellchamber (Amberley Beach) suggested we list them as:

Drainage problems

Randall Howard (Cedar Grove) asked for any experiences others can share in pursuing resolution of problems caused by drainage/runoff from areas inland of cottage areas.

Permanent waste-disposal station in Holmesville

Judy Crawford (Huron Shores) noted that this Huron County facility is now in operation. Ben VanDiepenbeek (ACW Reeve) commented that there is no fee for its use.

2010 municipal election

Roger Watt (Huron Sands) was asked if he intends to run for ACW Council again in 2010. Roger replied that he intends to run.

Great Lakes Shoreline Right of Passage Act, 2008

Don Rooth (Lake Huron Resort) urged the lakefront community to support this private-member's bill.

ACW Council support of MVCA

ACW Council voted against the MVCA 2009 budget; Ben VanDiepenbeek (ACW Reeve, and member of MVCA Board) commented that the vote as 4 to 3. ACW was the only dissenting vote among the 13 entities that fund MVCA. Nigel Bellchamber (Amberley Beach) will write a letter to ACW Council on behalf of ACLA to stress the importance of Council's continued support for the very important work that MVCA does to improve the environment.

Future ACLA Communications Coordinator meetings

We agreed to continue meeting on the Saturday morning of the weekend before the Victoria Day weekend. We will continue to attempt to use the St.Joseph's Church basement as long as it remains available. Ben VanDiepenbeek (ACW Reeve) commented that the ACW Council room at the Township office is also available; it can seat about 30 people.

Compiled from meeting notes by Roger Watt, ACLA Steering Committee