FOCA Elert - March 2020
FOCA office update 

In light of the ongoing pandemic, FOCA is abiding by the Ontario government order related to the closure of non-essential businesses, and has transitioned our staff away from our Peterborough office, as we all practice social distancing. 

We will carry 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. At this time, FOCA is monitoring and re-evaluating all our operations, programs, and services, to ensue the safety of members, staff, volunteers and others, and so you can continue to receive the timely, valued information and programming you have come to expect from FOCA. We will keep you posted about any changes as this evolving situation develops. 

We expect to be able to update you with important information by webinar in the coming weeks; our website remains active and filled with updates, and information will continue to be delivered in these Elert messages. 

We know that community connections, together with responsible decision-making, will be key over the coming months for FOCA as an organization, as well as for each of your own waterfront communities. 
Keep in touch, and continue to share your questions, ideas, and inspirations!

Here's a quick video message to you, from FOCA's Executive Director:
FOCA Update March 2020


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:
Sheltering at the cottage: an emerging discussion

Safety First
If you are a snowbird, or otherwise returning from travel abroad, Health Canada expects you to self-isolate for 14 days. Information is available online here: Health Canada COVID-19 Information.

What if you own property in two places in Ontario, and want to relocate from one to the other, such as: shelter in place at your cottage? FOCA has heard from many members, partners, and municipal contacts over the past days about this issue. Many are concerned that any transiting increases the chance for spread of illness. 

FOCA reminds members that our rural communities have reduced capacity to accommodate sudden changes in supply demands; put another way, cottage country isn't expecting you yet. Most of us wouldn't ordinarily open the cottage until nearer to the May long weekend. As we already know from our local grocery experiences, parts of the supply chain are under strain. Additionally, rural hospitals have limited capacity, and you should consider where your health needs can best be met, in an emergency situation.

If you do relocate to your waterfront residence (or are there already), FOCA suggests the following:
  • Connect with your lake association on social media (find many connections via FOCA's Facebook page, here). As always, these are the people who know your waterfront area best!
  • Provision yourself for several weeks (with food, drinks, gas, hardware supplies, prescriptions) before leaving your off-season community, so that you will not need to make stops along the way. This is not the time for our usual credo to "buy local" in cottage country. As you would do anywhere at this time, should you urgently need anything from a retailer or pharmacy, you should call ahead to see if there are options for safe pickup or delivery.
  • Continue to follow all the principles of social distancing at the cottage! Although cottage country is usually the place for relaxed rules, that cannot be the case anywhere for the foreseeable future. Cottages are often the gathering places for multiple households in an extended family; for now, and possibly for some time to come, that could put everyone at risk.
  • Develop an exit plan with immediate family, in case you develop any indications of illness while at your waterfront property.
  • As the clock slows down on our usually-hectic schedules, use this time to enjoy nature, cook, read, sing, dance, nap, and dream about dock-jumping time to come.

FOCA encourages our members and media partners to share these tips widely.


Advocacy & Policy Updates

OEB & Hydro One seasonal electricity rates
On March 12, 2020 the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) agreed with Hydro One (and FOCA) that their decision to implement fixed electricity distribution rates substantially changes the circumstances and rationale for eliminating the seasonal rate class. OEB will be considering their next steps "in due course." Follow this issue and get background about FOCA's work on the electricity file:

More Electricity News
Time-of-use rates will be temporarily suspended.
In support of customers under budget pressure due to COVID-19, the Province of Ontario is reducing peak hydro rates for a period of at least 45 days. This $162 million commitment will be funded by general tax revenues. The impact on your monthly bill will vary depending on your use, but will have limited impact for low-use customers, or those who are  primarily off-peak users already.  Read the Globe and Mail article.

Staying in Touch with Local Government 
The Municipal Emergency Act 2020, enacted March 19th, has changed quorum requirements under the Municipal Act: councils can electronically attend council, committee, and local board meetings and be counted in quorum. Learn more, including how the public can still participate by reading this online update and Meeting Guidance from the Association of Municipalities of Ontario. 

Conservation Authorities 
In early March, FOCA attended several Provincial sessions to discuss the role of Conservation Authorities. FOCA has since further outlined our perspectives in a submission to the Province outlining our interests in watershed management, flood planning and management, and other local resource management needs. Read more on FOCA's webpage:

ONCA still on hold
FOCA received the following update about the Ontario Not-for-Profit Corporations Act (ONCA) which we have been monitoring for several years on behalf of our member associations across the province. Nonprofit Law Ontario reports that the target for ONCA to come into force "is no longer early 2020" and that "most organizations should not make changes to comply with the ONCA yet, as certain rules have not been published." For more, visit: 

Spring Bear Hunt Returns
Black bear at water
A decision from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry about the spring bear hunt was announced March 13, 2020 on the Environmental Registry posting: " Ontario is establishing a regular spring black bear season, reducing seasons on the Bruce Peninsula and making other minor updates to black bear regulations." Read more online, here:
FOCA's Gold-level Sponsors


CottageLINK Rental Management
Event recap:  FOCA AGM & Spring Seminar 
Member Summary & Video Recording Available

P.A. Andrea Khanjin and FOCA's Terry Rees
The 2020 FOCA Annual General Meeting of Members and Spring Seminar for Lake Associations took place on March 7th. In addition to the annual business meeting, there were presentations on road salt impacts, invasive aquatic species, water quality monitoring in the Lake Partner Program, lake association risk management, and an overview of FOCA's recent work and emerging priorities. We were pleased to welcome our special guest, the Parliamentary Assistant (P.A.) to the Ontario Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks.

We encourage members to review the  Event Summary
which includes links to download each of the slide presentations. Access the summary using your FOCA member web login on the event webpage:

Don't recall, or have, your member web login? Contact us and we will reply by email during business hours. 

The full day was accessible by webinar, and the video recording of all the presentations is available. If you attended in person or by webinar, access to the video recording is included in your original registration price.  Missed the event, but still want to enjoy the video recording?  Details are here.
Lake Environments

Welcome to Spring, a time of ever-changing water levels
FOCA members should take note that shoreline properties can be faced with rapidly changing conditions as the snow melts, spring rains arrive, and ice cover on our lakes disappears. Monitor local flood advisory sources for current information on conditions near you.  FOCA posts important links and related high water preparedness information here:

Concerns over Salt
FOCA has noted the growing concern about increasing levels of salt in our freshwater systems. The chloride levels in surface water have been analyzed using the samples from the Lake Partner Program over the last number of years, and other studies (including those on Lake Simcoe) are showing disturbing increases that harm aquatic health. Learn more, here:

Starry Stonewort
Dr. Andrea Kirkwood, who spoke at the 2020 FOCA Spring Seminar about aquatic invasive species (see link to her presentation, in the Event Summary above), is also featured in the Starry Stonewort video available on the very-informative  Scugog Lake Stewards YouTube channel

image:; credit John Scott
The International Joint Commission (IJC) of Canada and the United States has released a report stating that microplastics in our waters are a possible source of  chemical contaminants. Link to the IJC update from FOCA's webpage:

Musings on the Scale of our Great Lakes
This interesting infographic has been hanging around in our Inbox for some time. Now seemed a good time to share it, especially for those who might have kids at home looking for some online research projects: pick a lake and find out more about it!
FOCA's Silver-level Sponsors



Cottage Life

Regional Notices & Recent Events 

Haliburton Shoreline Bylaw - Public Consultation
After a packed public meeting on February 26th, Haliburton County council announced they would undertake more public consultation on their draft shoreline preservation bylaw. Read the Minden Times online coverage.

For more about the importance of a naturalized shoreline, consult FOCA's publication: A Shoreline Owner's Guide to Healthy Waterfronts. (image at right is an excerpt)

Spring Cottage Life Show
CANCELLED (was scheduled for March 26-29, 2020). FOCA is sorry to report that we won't be able to connect with members and friends as planned at the annual Spring Cottage Life Show. The show organizers released a statement: "This is the first time in 27 years where the Spring Cottage Life Show in Toronto will not take place on its intended dates."

Ottawa Cottage Life and Backyard Show
CANCELLED (was scheduled for April 17-19, 2020). More from the show organizers: the "main priority is the health and safety of our attendees, exhibitors, partners and employees."

Safe Quiet Lakes - Stakeholder Meeting
POSTPONED (was scheduled for April 20, 2020). Stay tuned for updates from Safe Quiet Lakes.

Proposed billboards along Ontario Highways
This topic has been raised by some of our members, and was part of a presentation about municipal engagement at the 2019 FOCA AGM and Spring Seminar, where concerns were discussed about visual distraction/pollution. The Province has recently made comments about possibly allowing further billboard expansion along Ontario's highways. To learn more and connect with others concerned about this issue, visit:
FOCA presents Awards

2019 FOCA Achievement Award Recipient: 
Farlain Lake Community Association
The discovery of Eurasian Watermilfoil in Farlain Lake, near Awenda Provincial Park, resulted in the association developing their Eurasian Watermilfoil Control Program. In 2019, the association received a $200,000 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation for the Program. The Farlain Lake Community Association is committed to sharing their experiences and what they learn with other communities in Ontario.

Honourable Mention: Scugog Lake Stewards
The Scugog Lake Stewards have been dedicated to the health of Lake Scugog for many years. They have undertaken dozens of environmental projects, worked successfully with their Township, and carried out long-standing lake research and monitoring for invasive aquatic species including Eurasian Watermilfoil and Starry Stonewort.

Honourable Mention: Friends of Oak Lake
The Friends of Oak Lake, north of Belleville, formed as a result of a large hog manure spill that entered their lake in 2018. The incident inspired a group of residents to form the association in order to lobby municipal government for an environmental study and for funds to re-route the century-old sub-surface tile drain away from Oak Lake.

Find out more about the history of the FOCA Achievement Award, and how to nominate YOUR great lake association for the next Award, here:
FOCA receives Award

OOWA Award
FOCA was honoured to be recognized on March 3rd at the Annual Convention of the Ontario Onsite Wastewater Association (OOWA) as " Collaborator of the Year 2019-2020.Find out what we've been collaborating on:
FOCA's Bronze-level Sponsors
Nature Clean New Logo 2013


Canadian Canoe Museum



Dock in a Box

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!

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.
In praise of Nature

From our families to yours:  we hope you take this time to safely enjoy the best of Ontario's natural beauty.

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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