Communications Coordinators meeting, 2016-05-14

09:00-12:00 Saturday May 14, 2016
Christ Church basement, 7 London Road, Port Albert

ACLA Communications Coordinators and designated alternates

Represented: Amberley Beach, Ashfield Beach south, Brindley Beach, Huron Sands, Kintail Beach, Lakeland Estates, Maple Grove, Mid-Huron Beach.

Not represented: Birch Beach, Bogie's Beach, Buchanan's Beach, Cedar Grove, Goat Trail, Green Acres Cove, Horizon View, Huron Sands North, Huron Shores, Hunter's Beach, Kingsbridge Shores, Lake Huron Resort, Linfield Beach, Martin's Point, Menesetung Park, Port Albert, Shamrock Beach, Sunset Beach. Victoria Beach, Vogel's Beach.

Opening remarks

Roger Watt (Huron Sands). Welcome to Coordinators and invited speakers.

ACW Township

Ben VanDiepenbeek (Reeve)

2016 budget highlights

Decreased provincial funding and increased OPP costs resulted in a 7% deficit over last year, so Council approved a 6% tax increase. However, the total assessment went up (primarily due to the increasing value of farmland), so the ACW portion of taxes on the average home went down by $6.

Council was able to approve a number of municipal road improvements thanks to the ACW/K2 Wind "Community Benefit Fund", including some of the roads serving lakefront communities: Sunset Beach Road, bridge repairs ($100K/CBF) and resurfacing ($94K); Mid Huron Beach Road, paving ($79K/CBF); MacKenzie Camp Road, reconstruction ($190K/CBF). The complete 38-page budget and a summary sheet are available on the ACW website.

Strategic and operational plans

Council has drafted a Strategic Plan for the period 2016-2018. It establishes top-priority areas and action items for each. An Operational Plan of items to be initiated this year is being drafted, including "Town Hall" meetings in various locations this summer and fall to obtain comments on both plans.

Shoreline tree protection

Council has revised its draft Shoreline Tree Protection By-Law to incorporate feedback received last year, and to eliminate any need to apply for tree-cutting permits. Further comments are invited from the lakefront community. Council expects to pass the By-Law in late summer or early fall.

In discussion, it was suggested that the Township should mail a copy of the by-law to every lakefront property owner after it is passed.

Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation

Microplastics affecting water quality in the Great Lakes

Rhiannon Moore (Coastal Outreach Specialist). Microplastics are an emerging issue and pose risks to human health and wildlife within and surrounding the Great Lakes. In recent years, microbeads found in cosmetic products have gained increased attention. There is an alarming amount of plastics ending up in our lakes through cigarette butts and other plastic litter. Recent studies show that the Great Lakes contain about 43,000 plastic objects per square kilometer.

Coastal Action Plan

Erinn Lawrie (Coastal Stewardship Coordinator). The Coastal Action Plan for Southeastern Lake Huron is a new initiative being developed by the Coastal Centre. It is a conservation-planning and decision-making support system that will guide stakeholders in prioritizing future research, education, and stewardship along the coast. This project will link the shoreline from Sarnia to Tobermory to create a unified vision for the conservation and stewardship of Lake Huron, with recommended actions to mitigate threats. A schedule of community meetings over the summer will be arranged.

New Tools For Clean Water

Jacqui Empson Laporte, Environmental Management Branch, OMAFRA. Traditional workshops at which participants work through program binders are no longer sufficient. New approaches are being explored for delivering agricultural stewardship programs beyond the simple approach of "best management practices" (BMPs), and for measuring their success. Twitter account "@ONAgEnviro" is being used to reach those who believe in the power of social media and aren't interested in coming to workshops. Increased emphasis is being placed on programs demonstrating that "healthy soil" leads to "healthy water". The planting of "cover crops" is being promoted so that corn/bean fields are not left bare over the winter. Farmland rental agreements that include commitments to soil-health improvement are being promoted. A "natural channels for agricultural drainage" conference is being held this September in Niagara Falls.

Extreme Lake Levels: Issues and Options

Lynne Peterson (project leader), Integrated Assessment of Great Lakes Water Levels. A new research study is looking at the environmental, social, and economic effects of extreme water levels in the Great Lakes. Recommendations will be made for strategies that can be used by local communities to adapt to current and future fluctuations in water levels. One of the big concerns is to develop and communicate early-warning indicators of potential bluff failures, such as toe-of-bluff erosion and top-of-bluff tension cracks. The study is being coordinated and funded by the University of Michigan's Graham Sustainability Institute. The Ontario component is being sponsored by the University of Toronto's Ecological Modelling Lab, and Huron County's Water Protection Steering Committee is sponsoring the work along the Lake Huron bluffs.

Maitland Valley Conservation Authority

Garvey Glenn watershed update

Sarah Fleischhauer (Restoration Technician). Projects are now active or completed on 43% of the lands in the GG watershed. Activities for 2016 include the planting of trees to create windbreaks, and the construction of berms designed to trap the runoff from a ten-year storm and release it over a 12-24hr period. The GG watershed is being included in MOECC's repeat of the Multi-Watershed Nutrient Study that was last done in 1978.

Update on erosion-line mapping and development/alteration policy

Phil Beard (General Manager/Secretary-Treasurer). MVCA is updating the mapping of the 100-year erosion line along the Lake Huron shoreline, and has retained a coastal geomorphologist from the University of Guelph to develop the 100-year erosion lines for the 130+ gullies. Updating should be completed in time to permit MVCA to schedule public information sessions for the spring of 2017.

As the result of a recent court ruling regarding a CA's denial of a permit, MVCA's policy and procedures for Ontario Regulation 164/06 re development/alteration within the 100-year erosion line of shoreline and gully areas will be revised to ensure that it is "permissive" rather than "prohibitive" ... if a proposed project has been professionally engineered to ensure that it will not endanger the conservation or stability of the surrounding environment or become a threat to the lives or the property of others, then MVCA will issue a permit.

ACLA business session

Treasurer's report

Jim Baird (Amberley Beach). For the year ending 2016-05-30, ACLA had income of $5708, expenses of $4604, and a balance of $16,170. The primary sources of income were $3200 in contributions from individual associations plus $2500 from ACW toward the costs of the ACLA/MVCA stream-testing program. The primary expense was $4257 for the lab fees for analysis of the stream-testing samples.

ACLA/MVCA stream testing

There was no ACLA volunteer to take over the testing of the streams along Highway 21 that has been done for the past 15 years by Mike McElhone. It will be done this year by MVCA. The anticipated total cost for 2016 is $7600, which includes lab-analyis fees plus staff time and mileage.

Mike was unable to attend this meeting because of an unexpected event that required his presence elsewhere. ACLA and MVCA express thanks to Mike for his long-term dedication to this program and other water-quality environmental concerns.

Discussion from the floor

These Communications Coordinator meetings provide a forum for imparting information about environmental stewardship to the lakefront community. ACLA's stated mission is to coordinate advocacy on common concerns of the lakefront community. Maintaining the on-going continuity of the stream-testing information is a valuable asset in demonstrating to the province that problems continue to exist. However, the focus of concern is expanding from shoreline water quality to include the protection of property from the perils of erosion, both from the lake due to high water levels and from inland due to stormwater runoff. Programs that improve farmland soil quality and decrease the pollution and erosion from farmland runoff are important parts of the solution. However, ACLA needs advocates to take on the pursuit of funding for additional programs to mitigate the erosion problems for which there are no cheap or simple solutions. Municipal-drain projects are the best approach for addressing stormwater runoff, but the cost of such a project can easily run from several hundred thousand to over a million dollars. And there are no obviously-acceptable solutions to control the natural erosion of the bluffs caused by high lake levels.


The meeting adjourned at 12:30. The next meeting will be Saturday May 13, 2017, at a location TBD.