FOCA Elert - April 2020
Cottage Country Considerations & COVID-19

FOCA posts the most up-to-date and relevant information about the pandemic and impacts on waterfront Ontario on our website, here:

Recent news of note:
  • Ontario has extended the Declaration of Emergency to May 12 (see April 14 item)
  • the Prime Minister announced the Canada/U.S. border will remain closed until May 21 (see April 18 item)
  • Parks Canada announced that the opening of the Trent-Severn and Rideau Waterways are delayed until at least May 31 (see April 15 item)
  • some municipalities have closed public boat launches (see April 12 item)
  • short-term rentals to the general public are not considered essential services, and are restricted (see April 6 item)
  • seasonal trailer parks and recreational campgrounds are listed as non-essential businesses, except for Ontarians whose only Canadian residence is in one of these locations (see April 3 item)
  • marinas are considered essential services but only to the extent necessary to enable individuals to access their primary place of residence, or in support of emergency services, or the food supply chain (see April 1 item) 

FOCA will continue to post news to our website, and to provide monthly Elert updates. Ensure we have your consent to continue sending you the Elert.


FOCA will be working with the Provincial government, our municipal partners and others to communicate the impact of the various restrictions on waterfront property owners. And, when we can do so safely, we will be encouraging the gradual return to 'normal.' This might not come for some time, as the current mantra of "Stay Safe. Stay Home" is pervasive among our public health partners, and politicians are taking a very cautious "long view" approach.

Watch a brief update from FOCA's Executive Director from a few days ago:


Event recap:  FOCA webinar 
Cottage Country Considerations & COVID-19
On April 14, 2020 FOCA hosted a one-hour webinar for our members and municipal partners; over 250 of you participated, and attendee feedback was positive:
  • "very informative, timely on pertinent issues"
  • "session was clear, to the point, visuals helpful"
  • "excellent. thank you for putting this on. was really informative and is consistent with the messaging we've been giving our members... AND provided additional info and links we can use"

FOCA notes: Above are live poll results from the event attendees.

FOCA Members can watch the webinar recording and download the slides (including links to additional resources), from our webpage:

* You will need your FOCA Member Web Login to access this material. 
Don't have, or recall, the Login? Contact us by email, clarifying your association affiliation or member status; we will reply during business hours with details.  
Next Member Webinar

Governing our Lake Associations during the pandemic: practical tips and legal guidance with our partners at BLG
  Wednesday, May 6, 2020 
  from 7:00pm - 8:00pm by webinar

A screen capture from
FOCA's last webinar
Join FOCA and Katherine Carre of Borden Ladner Gervais LLP for a webinar about governance considerations for not-for-profit associations, such as: 
  • how to hold your Annual General Meeting if you can't meet in person this summer
  • what means of "voting" can be used, and whether proxies are required
  • questions about quorum and electing new Directors. 
FOCA members can register for this webinar at no charge.*  
Pre-registration for this event is required before 5:00pm on May 6th:

You will receive a confirmation email including the webinar link, once your registration has been approved by FOCA.

* Not yet a member? Find out more about why you should be:
FOCA's Gold-level Sponsors


CottageLINK Rental Management
Advocacy, Policy & Program Updates

Water Quality Testing and the Lake Partner Program
Despite FOCA's best intentions to continue with the Lake Partner Program (LPP) in 2020,  the volunteer sampling and sample submission, plus any laboratory work by the Ministry of Environment Conservation and Parks (MECP) has to be  postponed indefinitely . Given the many closures, particularly the lab services at the Dorset Environmental Science Centre, it will be impossible to deliver this program.

Many of you are already in receipt of your sampling packages, and we ask that you please hold on to these for when the program eventually resumes. 

For those of you still looking for the data from the 2019 season, despite FOCA's repeated efforts over the past months, there has been no information released from MECP, and no indication of when this might change. Read more, including what you can do to add your voice, here: 

Electricity News
Time-of-use pricing is still suspended (until mid-May) under the Province's Emergency Order.  Follow this issue and get background about FOCA's work on the electricity file:

Protecting public participation under the EBR
An excerpt from the letter to the Province
FOCA and nearly 50 other organizations from across the province have jointly appealed to the Province of Ontario to amend their provisions to suspend the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR), to maintain the right of the public to participate in important environmental decisions, and to ensure the environment is adequately considered in their decisions. See more, and read the letter:
Lake Environments

Water Levels
There are flood watches and warnings issued for some parts of waterfront Ontario. Link to the Ontario Flood Map (pictured at right, early on April 27) and other related high water preparedness information, here:

Celebrating Citizen Science
April is Global Citizen Science Month, and FOCA takes this opportunity to thank all the hundreds of dedicated volunteer samplers who have participated in the Lake Partner Program of water quality monitoring! Learn more about the importance of citizen science in this short video from FOCA:
More Volunteer Appreciation

National Volunteer Week was April 19-25!
FOCA thanks all the volunteers on our Board of Directors and in our 500+ member Associations who do so much for waterfront Ontario.   Across Canada, 12.7 million volunteers regularly give their time in support of multitude of causes and services. We recognize the valuable economic and community impacts of volunteerism.  Three cheers, to all of you!

Here's just one great example of volunteers-in-action in our lake communities: 

Planet Haliburton is an environmental show on a local all-volunteer radio station, producing free podcasts on topics of interest to lake associations, including 
septic systems and re-inspection, s horeline and water level information.  Find the podcasts here  or on Spotify or iTunes. 

Thanks to our colleagues at the Coalition of Haliburton Property Owners Associations, for bringing this resource to our attention!
FOCA's Silver-level Sponsors


Cottage Life

Safety & Risk Management 

Wildfire Safety
Effective April 3rd, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) has implemented a Restricted Fire Zone (RFZ) across the entire legislated fire region of Ontario due to impacts related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Many municipalities have also implemented fire bans during this time. 
See more on FOCA's fire safety webpage:

Carbon Monoxide & Home Fire Safety
If you are using gas, oil, propane or wood-burning heating systems or appliances, or portable generators in confined spaces, FOCA reminds you to install, test and replace batteries in carbon monoxide detectors at the same time that you check your smoke detectors each spring and fall. Learn more here:

Signs of Spring
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and the Ontario Provincial Police remind Ontario residents to exercise caution as bears come out of hibernation this spring. Get tips for your home and neighbourhood, and find out what to do if you DO sight a bear, here: 

Boating Safety
A message from our colleagues at  Boating Ontario, posted to Facebook on April 20th: 

"It should go without saying but.. sometimes boating responsibly means waiting to boat. We know you're looking forward to getting out on the water - so are we! - but now is not the time. Let's all be responsible boaters and stay home."
Sponsors' Corner 

Welcome to Sawmill Structures
Sawmill Structures is FOCA's newest Bronze Corporate Sponsor.  They make beautiful, affordable cottage bunkie and shed kits that can be assembled in one day at your property. Do-it-yourself, or choose a full assembly package and let them do everything for you. 
Sawmill Structures gives back: food bank donation
FOCA is especially pleased to announce that, for every bunkie or shed purchase made during the COVID-19 pandemic, Sawmill Structures will donate $350.00 in your name directly to the local food bank in your cottage area
Remember to mention FOCA when you access this offer on behalf of your rural community!

Chris Hillert, owner of Sawmill Structures, started this 'cottage-give-back-local' initiative to help food banks in crisis in cottage country during the pandemic.  "Now more then ever is the time to support these wonderful communities that we all love and cherish so much," he says.  Visit online, call or email for information:

Sponsors support FOCA's work; please, support them! See more about all the offers available to you:
Regional Notices & Event Updates

Muskoka floodplain mapping
As reported in the Muskoka Watershed Council's "Downstream" Newsletter earlier this month, the District Municipality of Muskoka has acquired updated floodplain mapping for parts of the Muskoka River Watershed. To view the mapping, find the tab "Muskoka Flood Plain Maps" on this webpage: 

Earth Day Celebrations
Last week saw the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22nd. This year's theme was 'Climate Action' and events were entirely digital, due to the pandemic. Here's what the organizers wrote about the spirit of the day:

"The real goal of Earth Day is to change the world around you, for the better. ... Earth Day brings you back to the roots of environmentalism: Building a planet that works better for everyone. You'll do this through voting, changing laws and leaders, updating school curriculum, supporting science and inspiring your neighbors to make positive changes."

MLA Annual Seedling Day
CANCELLED - MLA's Seedling Day was scheduled for May 16, 2020. 

Bird Surveys suspended if travel is required
As reported by our member group, the Otty Lake Association in their April 15th enews, Bird Studies Canada has made the decision to suspend all surveys that require volunteers to leave their own property (including going out on a boat). See more: 

ASHMuskoka ash collection postponed
As reported in late March in the newsletter of the Friends of the Muskoka Watershed, the ASHMuskoka project is asking participating community members to safely store their cold, clean ash in a dry, safe place until the collection process can resume. The project requires 80-100 tonnes of ash by the fall of 2021, for the second phase of the three-year project. Read the blog post from ASHMuskoka here.
Waterfront Land Use Planning during COVID-19

Like all of us, municipal planning departments are adjusting to these challenging times, and many are carrying on while working remotely. Lake associations can learn more about the situation in a short article from our partners at EcoVue Consulting on the FOCA webpage:
Facebook Finds

We've been keeping track of developments from our member associations, partner organizations, and sponsors on social media. Here are just a couple of stories that we think are well worth sharing:
  • FOCA member group, the Severn River Association of Property Owners (SRAPO) has donated $2,000 to the Coldwater Food Bank on behalf of all their members. As they wrote on their Facebook post: "Together we can show warmth and compassion to others; we are all very much together as a community!" This is one of several great examples of member Associations who are finding ways to support their rural communities during this unusual time.
  • A "shout-out" to our corporate sponsors, Sunspace Sunrooms, for their ongoing efforts to re-tool their windows as hygiene shields in grocery and corner stores in recent weeks! (image at the side)

Have you connected with FOCA on Facebook yet? 

Find us here:

Materials for your Association Newsletters

In addition to FOCA's ongoing work on behalf of waterfront Ontario, our members have access to several specific benefits, offers and discounts from our partners and corporate sponsors. Review member benefits, here:
Member Associations: Do all your members know about their FOCA benefits?  Use a reminder "ad" on your association website, or an upcoming Newsletter. 

Could you use a short article about the value FOCA brings to your members?  Contact the office for a draft article and/or a copy of the ad at the side.
2019 FOCA Year in Review
Read about electricity pricing, the Lake Partner Program of water quality monitoring, and more about FOCA's recent work on behalf of waterfront Ontario.  Please share this link with your members!

FOCA's Bronze-level Sponsors

Canadian Canoe Museum


Dock in a Box

A free edition of Cottage Life

FOCA's partners at Cottage Life Media have invited us to share with you an offer to download the May 2020 edition of the Cottage Life Magazine at no charge. They wrote:

We know that during tough times, sometimes it's the little things that get us through. In the May issue of Cottage Life, we celebrate the simple pleasures of life at the lake. We are offering free access to the current digital edition of Cottage Life, and inviting everyone to escape with us even if only for a few minutes. This is our way of giving back to the community we serve.

Access your free issue from Cottage Life, here: 
FOCA's Operations Continue 

In light of the ongoing pandemic, FOCA continues to abide by the Ontario government order related to the closure of non-essential businesses, and has transitioned our staff away from our Peterborough office to physically distance. 

We are carrying on serving our members digitally, during regular business hours.  Our contact information is here.  You can still leave phone messages, although email  inquiries  may be addressed more rapidly. 

Staying in Touch
Please encourage fellow members and waterfront neighbours to provide their consent to receive monthly Elert messages like this, from FOCA. You can circulate this call-to-action:

Get on the Elert list for free cottage country updates from FOCA:

This is one of many member benefits that we hope you will highlight to fellow members. For more, visit:
FOCA is the Federation of Ontario Cottagers' Associations, 
the voice of the waterfront for over half a century     |    705-749-3622    |  
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