Communications Coordinators meeting, 2010-05-15

09:00-12:00 Saturday May 15, 2010
St. Joseph's Church basement, Kingsbridge

Coffee available 08:45

Attendees and invited guests

ACLA Communications Coordinators and alternates

17 people representing 13 of ACW's 27 lakefront areas: Amberley Beach, Ashfield Beach, Cedar Grove, Horizon View, Huron Sands, Huron Shores, Kintail Beach, Lakeland Estates, Maple Grove, Mid-Huron Beach, Port Albert North, Shamrock Beach, Sunset Beach.
-- not represented: Birch Beach, Bogie's Beach, Brindley Beach, Buchanan's Beach, Goat Trail, Green Acres Cove, Huron Sands North, Kingsbridge Shores, Lake Huron Resort, Linfield Beach, Menesetung, Port Albert, Victoria Beach, Vogel's Beach.

ACW Council members

Connie Black (Councillor, Colborne ward), Ben VanDiepenbeek (Reeve).

Other invited guests

Bluewater Ratepayers Association -- Dave MacClaren
Huron County Health Unit -- Bob Worsell
Maitland Valley Conservation Authority -- Phil Beard
Ontario Ministry of the Environment -- Ian Kerr
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources -- Mike Malhiot

09:00 -- Opening remarks, introduction of guests (Roger Watt, Huron Sands)

Analysis of 2010 property taxes shows that the seasonal/recreational lakefront community represents 22% of the properties in ACW and 32% of the ACW tax base. Again, thanks to the ACW Township office for obtaining the MPAC data that makes this analysis posible.

On the file card provided, please identify the most important item that you want to see addressed at this meeting. We will discuss any items not already covered in the "other issues" closing session.

09:05 -- Maitland Valley Conservation Authority update (Phil Beard, General Manager)

Gully/Bluff management and regulation policies/procedures

The remaining work to be done by the MVCA Shoreline Working Group includes developing maps that project the extent of the erosion of each lakeshore gully by the time it reaches all the way east to Highway 21, and a shoreline/gully management workshop (to be held in August, date and location still TBD).

Scott Municipal Drain Watershed tours for 2010

A partnership of the Scott family, MVCA, and several Ministries have worked on improving the environmental conditions on the Scott farm to reduce runoff, improve fish habitat, etc. To date, over 300 people have enjoyed the farm tour, including some from ACLA member associations. The tour provides an excellent first-hand opportunity see how stormwater management and soil/water conservation can be built into a municipal drainage project and why it is needed. (Dates for the 2010 tours still TBD.)

Climate-change projection

With continued warming, we can expect more violent rainstorms and more days in the winter when the temperature does not reach freezing, causing less freezing-over of the lake and more lake-effect snow, and thus more runoff producing more flooding, more slumping of shoreline bluff and gully banks, etc.

Lake Huron Watershed Project

This joint programme between MVCA and MOE is the direct result of the meeting that ACLA, BRA, and BSRA held with MOE officials last fall encouraging them to implement research on ways to prevent runoff into our streams. MVCA has selected three streams that are significant carriers of nutrients and pathogens (Griffin Creek and the streams immediately to the north and south), and will be contacting farm operators along those streams to solicit participation in mitigation programs. OMAFRA will be making a major contribution to the Huron County Clean Water Project with a similar motive.

Watershed Report Cards

The complete set of Watershed Report Cards is now online.

MVCA plans

Plans for the next five years include initiatives to increase forest cover for the watershed from the current 16% towards an eventual goal of 26%. MVCA will also be focusing on improved storm-water management.

Geoff Walker Memorial Fund

Phil encouraged the lakefront community to donate to the Geoff Walker Memorial Fund. Geoff was a founding member of the Ashfield Lakefront Association (ACLA's predecessor), the originator of our stream-testing project, a generous volunteer to MVCA's education programme, and an enthusiastic builder of bird houses that were distributed across the county. Geoff's family would like all proceeds focused on the environmental education of students in the watershed.

09:25 -- Living with wildlife (Mike Malhiot, Area Supervisor, MNR Clinton)


The bears that we are experiencing these past few years are mainly 2nd-year males that were born in the Bruce Peninsula and have migrated here through wooded corridors, many along the lakefront, in search of food and their own territory. These "juvenile" males weigh around 50 pounds, and are generally afraid of humans. They need to gain a lot of weight over the summer and fall, and then find a place to "den up" for the winter. If they can't find a rocky crevace, they will use a large pile of brush, or even crawl underneath a sheltered cottage. It could take another 20 years before enough females migrate to this area to result in a breeding population.

Keep your cottage community from becoming a food source. Keep BBQs clean, do not put out bird feeders during spring/summer/fall, and always keep pet food and garbage indoors. If confronted by a bear, make yourself appear as tall as possible, and make lots of noise and arm motions while slowly backing away. For details, see the Bearwise section of the MNR website.


The coyotes in Ontario are a hybrid of the eastern wolf and western coyote that moved east as the eastern wolf was hunted to extinction by the early settlers. Adults normally weigh 30-40 pounds. There is a large coyote population in the area. They will attack livestock, but pose no threat to humans.


Cougars are seldom reported in this area, and follow-up MNR investigations of possible sightings have not confirmed any. Cougars were native to eastern Canada long ago, but it is believed that any cougars found in Ontario today were "pets" that their owners released into the wild. A cougar needs 10-15 pounds of meat per day, and evidence of that rate of "kill" would be hard to miss. In snow, a cougar leaves footprints about the same size as a large dog, with a very distinct "tail drag" through it.

09:50 -- Huron County Health Unit update (Bob Worsell, HCHU)

Huron County Septic Maintenance Program

Huron County's inspection of septic systems will be implemented in each of the Townships that approves the program. ACW and North Huron have given approval in principle, Huron East and Morris-Turnberry have not approved it, and it will be discussed at Council meetings in Bluewater, Central Huron, South Huron, and Howick in the next few weeks.

Bob acknowledged that ACLA has been recommending some form of septic inspection programme since 2002.

The Huron County programme will require hiring one full-time inspector and two trained summer students. The program is not intended to force property owners to bring existing systems up to current code, but the owner of a system that is causing problems will be required to rectify them. The cost per inspection will be $322 (does not include pump-out), to be billed as an annual surcharge on the Township's property-tax bill, spread over a 7-to-12-year period (still TBD). A pump-out will be required at the time of inspection. However, HCHU is considering accepting a recent inspection report done by a septic pumper, if the time of a pump-out does not coincide with the HCHU inspection.

An extensive information package will be delivered to the property owner after the inspection, including a GPS map showing the location of the house, septic tank, and tile system.

Beach Water Sampling

Beach sampling will follow the Ontario Mandatory Standard protocol for recreational water sampling. The Health Units sampling program has always exceeded the requirements of the protocol and this year's program will be the same as last year.

The monitoring reports for 2009 and 2008 are available at the Beach Water Quality section of the HCHU website.

Bob advised that the Ministry of Health is considering raising the e.coli limit for safe swimming from the current 100 cfu per 100 ml to 200 cfu. Currently Ontario has the safest limits in the world. Weakening them would put us in line with the rest of Canada and similar with the USA. (During discussion at the meeting, ACLA decided to send a letter to the Minister of Health opposing this action.)

Beach Water Quality Application

This new application analyzes recent Environment Canada weather data to provide timely information about beach water quality so that residents and visitors can make informed decisions about water conditions and safe swimming. We are also working on a method to provide cumulative seasonal data collected by HCHU from the same web-based interface.

Similar systems are in use elsewhere and are working at a 85%-95% accuracy rate.

The application is being constructed using methods that can easily be ported to an iPhone/iPod/iPad application. Depending on the success of the web-based presentation, the application can be repurposed for mobile use easily. The data will be presented in a Google Map mashup application allowing easy navigation for users. We are also considering the use of Twitter by the beach samplers to provide timely information on beach conditions.

10:10 -- Options for recycling (Warren Howard, Cedar Grove)

Last year, we found that the Township recycling service needed a substantial amount of management from the Maple Grove/Cedar Grove Associations. Bi-weekly pick-ups did not work for cottage users and the sorting requirements differed considerably from recycling programs in most other areas of the province. These problems motivated my search for alternatives.

I was only able to find one supplier willing to provide service in ACW -- Waste Management. Though they also provide the Township recycling pick-up service, the service proposed for us is different in a number of important areas.

In previous years, we have tried a recycling bin, but it did not work. From my perspective, the proposal from Waste Management addresses the problems with the previous service as well as removing the management requirements created by the Township service. On this basis, I am proposing the above service to the Maple Grove/Cedar Grove annual meetings on the May 24th weekend.

The cost of the service is $75 to deliver the bin, $20 per tip, and $50 to remove the bin at the end of the season (plus taxes). For Maple Grove/Cedar Grove, I have estimated the all-in cost for one recycling bin at $361.25 for the ten-week period from late June to mid-September.

If other associations are interested in pursuing a similar arrangement with Waste Management, our new contact is Greg Troyer. He works out of their Mount Forest office and his mobile phone number is 519-261-0587.

(Warren promised to report in the fall to let the rest of us know how things went this summer.)

10:20 -- Unassumed lakefront roads (Nigel Bellchamber, Amberley Beach)

There are approximately 15 kilometers of cottage roads along the lake that cannot be brought up to ACW's rural-roads standard for assumption because they are within the 100-year erosion line of the shoreline bluff. The maintenance of these roads is funded by the owners of the properties reached by those roads.

Bluewater Township (south of Goderich) provides each lakefront association with a grant in lieu of road-maintenance assumption. ACW Council recently stated that it would consider a recommendation from ACLA on the possibility of contributing towards the maintenance of such roads. Nigel distributed a questionnaire asking attendees to describe their cottage roads, how the maintenance work is performed and by whom, the annual costs, and any recent large expenses.

10:25 -- ACW Council update (Ben VanDiepenbeek, Reeve)

At its meeting on May 18, Council will be voting on the 2010 budget that would increase Township taxes by 3%. For details, see the left-menu "BUDGET" item at the ACW website. Major projects include drainage and repaving on London Road in Port Albert, which needs to be completed in time for their 175th anniversary in 2011. Currently there is a no-build freeze on the lots on this road due to existing drainage problems.

The state of ACW's many bridges is assessed by ACW's engineering firm every two years. The latest report projects that $2,500,000 of work will be required over the next 5-10 years.

ACW is conducting a second Open House information session at the Dungannon Agricultural Centre 5-8pm May 26 to respond to concerns that have been expressed by area residents about the expansion of the ACW landfill. The session will be attended by representatives of ACW's engineering firm, MOE, Huron County Planning Department, the ABMV Source Water Protection Committee, and the hydro-geologist who did the watershed/groundwater mapping for the Souce Water Protection Committee.

There will be extensive work done on highway 21 this year (timing TBA) -- paving and relacement of some culverts in the area from the Goderich Airport to Shepardton line in Colborne ward, and paving from Kingsbridge to Amberley in Ashfield ward. The culvert replacements will require road closures, but paving will be reduced-to-single-line work.

10:40 -- break

10:50 -- Addressing the problems of runoff (Ian Kerr, Acting Technical Support Manager - Water, MoE)

This session was a summary of work in progress to mitigate the issues reported in the 2009 UoGuelph/MOE research report that showed agricultural runoff as the dominant source of E.Coli in the area surrounding the outflow of the 18 Mile River watershed.

Nigel Bellchamber (Amberley Beach) gave a brief history of ACLA's progress to date on tackling stream pollution. A briefing was held last August for the Councils of Huron County's lakefront communities. Despite many conflicts, 29 of 39 possible Council members attended, with ACW having the best attendance with 6 of the 7 Council members attending. Also attending were MPP Carol Mitchell and representatives from MP Ben Lobb's office, the Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation, Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority, Maitland Valley Conservation Authority, and the Huron Federation of Agriculture. In September, representatives from ACLA, Bluewater Shores Ratepayers Association, Bayfield Ratepayers Association, and MVCA attended a follow-up meeting with senior MOE officials in Toronto. The same group was invited to a meeting with MOE in London in December. At that meeting we were told that MOE would be providing the lead role in gaining cooperation from the Ontaro Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs, Ministry of Natural Resources, and Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing in sponsoring several trial projects designed to reduce runoff and resulting beach pollution. Current funding will be reallocated to these projects. Nigel introduced Ian Kerr, who will be be the project coordinator.

Ian described the Lake Huron Southeast Shore Working Group, which originated after the publicity ACLA received with the publication of our DNA research in 2002. This group is made up with representatives of various ministries, Health Units, non-governmental organizations, etc. While this group has generally been just an information-sharing group, it has now been added to the one-year extension of the Canada Ontario Agreement covering the Great Lakes. Traditionally, only the areas of direct concern (harbours with industrial pollution problems) have been included.

Ian is coordinating involvement from the other ministries up to the director level, seeking approval to establish an multi-ministry steering committee of regional directors, overseeing working groups including representatives of municipalities, etc. Phil Beard (MVCA) suggested that the lakefront associations should also be included. Ian's objective is to select several "priority" watersheds, re-focus existing programs in those areas, and monitor outcomes. This will hopefully start within the next few months.

This year, Ian's staff will begin doing inspections of municipal sewage plants, large farms, trailer parks, bio solid operations, golf courses, etc. Todd Howell will be continuing his Lake Huron research, this time in the Point Clark area.

Ian also described the Ontario Community Environmental Fund, which receives money from fines levied against companies for environmental violations. These funds are available for environmental projects within the companies' regions.

11:25 -- ACLA environmental program Mike McElhone, Port Albert North)

2009 stream-testing results

Mike summarized the results, with hanks to ACW for its $2,500 contribution, MVCA for their administrative contribution, and Nigel and Dianne Bellchamber for efforts when Mike and Allison are away. Mike commented in particular on the results from August 18th. Following several days with no rain, the e.coli results from the first 9 streams averaged approximately 50% of the year to date average. A heavy rain started immediately after the samples were taken. The rain lasted for 30 minutes. The results for the last 4 sites were 11 times the YTD average, 12 times, 13 times and 30 times in order. All of this occurred within 60 minutes after the first rainfall illustrating the flushing capacity of farm drainage.

2010 stream-testing plans and beyond

Mike had been asked why we were continuing stream testing now that MOE has acknowledged the credibility of our research. This topic was discussed at the ACLA Steering Committee meeting, and we believe it will be necessary to continue some form of monitoring until such time as improvements can be proven. After 2010, depending on the outcome of the MOE-led program (see above), some altered strategy may be appropriate.

Ausable Bayfield Maitland Valley Source Drinking Water Protection

The report of the Committee will go to the Minister of the Environment this summer.

The Terms of Reference were accepted by the Minister of the Environment nine months ago, and the Watershed Assessments were approved by the Committee in late April. All off the 700 plus maps are available on the ABCA and MVCA websites as well as at the CA offices. Mike has a copy which he can make available for loan.

It All Ends Up In The Lake

Mike explained that ACLA, BRA, BSRA, and Friends Of the Bayfield River decided to discontinue the annual seminar last year. Attendance was dropping, and costs were escalating. The remaining balance of approximately $1400 is being put into a one-time-only bursary for Caroline Crocker, a Huron County student who is enthusiastically studying environmental issues.

11:35 -- Treasurer's report (Jim Baird, Amberley Beach)

Jim distributed copies of the financial statement. Since increasing the requested contribution per member-association property from $10 to $15 three years ago, ACLA's financial situation is now healthy, and the ACLA Steering Committee proposes reducing the request back to $10. There were no objections. It was noted that 95% of our yearly expenses go to lab costs for our stream-testing project.

The 2010 cheque for the contribution from particpating lakefront association should be made payable to "Ashfield-Colborne Lakefront Association" and sent to Jim Baird, 343 Ascot Place, Waterloo Ontario, N2J 3V9.

11:40 -- Other issues

There was considerable interest in Capital Power's Kingsbridge II Wind Power Project, which will add up to 150 new towers, mostly in the area between Huron Road 20 and Highway 86, north of the existing Kingsbridge I project.

Reeve Ben VanDiepenbeek commmented that, since the region currently has no additional access to the power grid, wind-turbine construction will not likely begin for another few years. He also mentioned that ACW receives very little income from wind turbines, as Ontario has capped the amount that can be generated through property taxes. ACW is pursuing discussions with Capital Power for alternate forms of financial contribution to the Township.

At its Open House in Lucknow in March, Capital Power stated that it currently has no plans to pursue towers west of Highway 21 (honouring EPCOR's earlier promise to ACW and the lakefront community), or to construct off-shore towers in Lake Huron. However, the Capital Power project manager noted that both of these areas are "prime" sources of wind power.

11:50 -- Adjourn

Thanks to all speakers and participants for making this another successful meeting. See you same time next year, Saturday before Victoria Day weekend. Have a safe and happy summer.

Compiled from notes taken by Roger Watt and Mike McElhone. Last modified 2010-05-31 at 13:19.