FOCA Elert - October 2020
A message from the Executive Director

FOCA's Terry Rees has a brief message for you, before the Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend. Click below to link to the video on YouTube:
Long weekend safety & Cottage closing time

Thanksgiving weekend safety tips
With the long weekend fast approaching, Peterborough Public Health (PPH) is one of many health units to release a list of ways to plan a safe Thanksgiving for your family, including which activities are considered low risk and moderate risk: 
Click to download the PPH tips (Oct.7/20) 

Fire Safety & Cottage Closing 
October 4th to 10th is 
Fire Prevention Week. This year's theme, "Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen" is aimed at educating about the #1 cause of fires in Ontario: unattended cooking. At the waterfront we have specific additional fire safety considerations, such as ensuring heating devices (fireplaces, stoves and heaters) are properly cleaned, maintained and operationally safe. 

Find out more about fire safety, and other cottage closing tips from FOCA, posted here:

Locks closing for the season
The Thanksgiving weekend marks the end of the 2020 season for locks along the Trent-Severn Waterway and Rideau Canal. The Rideau system released a bulletin about the schedule for the winter draw-down of water levels. Read the Rideau notice here.
Safely opening the border - research underway

McMaster HealthLabs (MHL), Air Canada, and the Greater Toronto Airports Authority are partnering on a voluntary COVID-19 study of international travellers arriving at Toronto's Pearson International Airport. The study's core purpose is to gather information to explore the effectiveness of various quarantine periods for travellers.

A separate study underway through the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University seeks to support more evidence-informed decision making on how border measures are used to better understand the public health impacts but also the economic and social impacts of such measures. Researchers will be conducting interviews with a wide range of people starting in mid- to late October 2020.

image: B. Andress from Thousand Islands Life (
With so many American and international owners of Ontario waterfront properties, FOCA is closely following all this research. We look forward to furthering our collective understanding about how to manage the risks of COVID-19, and border measures. FOCA continues to post information about the pandemic and cottage country impacts, here:
FOCA's Gold-level Sponsors


CottageLINK Rental Management
FOCA's sponsors support our work; please, support them! 
FOCA Fall Seminar for Lake Associations

REGISTER NOW! Saturday, November 21, 2020 by webinar (9am to 2pm)

Join FOCA for presentations and discussions about:
  • cottage country policy updates
  • highlights and benchmark statistics from our 2020 survey about cottage country issues and lake association priorities, as part of FOCA's strategic planning process
  • stories from fellow members who successfully pivoted association engagement this year, with digital and socially-distanced options
  • your FOCA membership benefits explained 
  • and more - additional details are being finalized!
Registration for this webinar is $30 for FOCA members ($45 for non-members)
       visit the event webpage or REGISTER NOW
Advocacy, Policy & Program Updates

Electricity Pricing
As reported in FOCA's September Elert, the Ontario Energy Board (OEB)
 has ruled that Hydro One must eliminate the Seasonal Rate Class. FOCA is extremely concerned about the financial impacts of this change on the estimated 78,000 seasonal customers that will be moving to the R2 (low density) residential class and will face increases of $60/month or more, based on Hydro One's last estimates. Read more, including how to determine whether you will be reclassified as low- or medium-density, on FOCA's webpage:

FOCA is creating a new e-list for updates on the Electricity issue. Want to subscribe?

Lake Partner Program update
On behalf of FOCA and the hundreds of volunteers who contribute to the Lake Partner Program (LPP) water quality monitoring, we are so pleased to begin a renewed agreement with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) that will see the program extended through March of 2025.

Additionally, MECP sent an update on October 1st to all LPP contacts, saying that the ministry has completed its assessment of how to continue the program safely during COVID-19. The LPP is reinstated, with some temporary modifications. Read the letter from MECP and learn more about the LPP, here:
Tracking Trends: A survey about off-season usage

FOCA is conducting a province-wide survey to determine whether the ongoing pandemic is shifting patterns of property usage. 

Click below to take the FOCA survey by October 30, 2020:
and please share this link widely, so all regions are included in the results.

We are interested to know if people have spent, or may be planning to spend, more time at their waterfront properties in Ontario because of travel restrictions and physical distancing protocols, including work-from-home options. We know that the amount of time spent in our waterfront communities can have a direct impact on the local economy, and the provision of important public services. Help FOCA to quantify the impact of our community! 


As members of the Muskoka Economic Recovery Task Force (MERTF), FOCA is also awaiting results of the recent MERTF survey of planned off-season usage in the District of Muskoka. 
Event Recaps 

Lake Networking Group gathering
October 6, 2020 - FOCA was pleased to attend the virtual meeting of the Lake Networking Group with over 40 others discussing hot topics facing Eastern Ontario lake associations and residents. Background on the Network is posted on the Friends of the Tay Watershed website:

Cottage Succession: Targeting Tax
September 24, 2020 - FOCA had over 275 members register for this popular webinar! The talk was recorded as part of FOCA's Cottage Succession video series with Peter Lillico, and is now available to purchase as an online recording or digital download. Review how capital gains tax works, techniques to reduce or defer it, and planning approaches to fund it. Find links to this, and the earlier talks in the series, here:
Preventing Invasive Species

Association 2020 Projects
This summer, through the 2020 FOCA Invasive Species Program, FOCA helped support our member Associations to run projects aimed at addressing invasive species at the local level. The Munro Lake Cottage Association was one of the participants. They created educational signage reminding boaters to Clean + Drain + Dry their boat before moving to another waterbody. Congratulations on a successful project, and thanks for sending us the photo with the "funded by FOCA" addition! 

FOCA posts information about boat signage, prevention tips and handy links related to invasive species, here:
FOCA's Silver-level Sponsors

Cottage Life

Regional Notices & Partner Events

Environmental Assessment is Not Red Tape - A Primer on Recent Changes in Ontario
Thursday, October 22, 2020 from 1:00 to 2:00pm ET. The Canadian Environmental Law Association is hosting a webinar focused on the public's environmental rights, Ontario's Environmental Assessment process, and Bill 197. Register here:

Lake Links 2020
Saturday, October 24, 2020 from 10:00 to noon by webinar. The theme is "Effective Engagement for Positive Action." FOCA is an event sponsor and one of the featured speakers at this year's edition of the annual Lake Links Workshop, usually held in Perth. FOCA will feature ways volunteer lake associations are staying connected and engaging members, in this unique year. Get details and register, here:

The Lake Links organizers have also asked groups to submit short write-ups on their own recent engagement initiatives, to share with attendees. Interested groups can fill in the online form, by clicking here

Georgian Bay water level symposium
Saturday, October 24, 2020 from 10am to 2pm by webinar. FOCA member group, the Georgian Bay Association (GBA), and Georgian Bay Forever are co-hosting this event to bring together scientists, policy makers, engineers and academics on the issue of fluctuating water levels in the region. Get information on the GBA website, including the registration link, by clicking here

Lake of the Woods - public engagement on phosphorus
The Lake of the Woods Water Sustainability Foundation wants to connect with members of the public who are interested in participating in upcoming public consultations with the federal Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Climate Change in steps toward creating a plan that identifies Lake of the Woods water quality objectives and reduction targets, particularly for phosphorus. Get details from LOWWSF on their webpage.

Blue-green algae in Lake of the Woods
In related news, blue-green algae has been confirmed this week in Safety Bay, Lake of the Woods. Read more from Thunder Bay Newswatch, and get links and other algae news and updates on FOCA's webpage:
FOCA Member Services & Success Stories

Member Benefit: Legal Helpline for FOCA Associations
    an update from Cade Associates Insurance Brokers
If your Association is insured through the FOCA Association insurance program, we are delighted to announce that you have free access to a Legal Helpline! Provided by DAS Legal Protection Inc., this helpline provides your Association with free, easy, unlimited access to a lawyer to discuss legal issues for which you may need guidance. Available 8am to midnight, 7 days per week, the lawyer can help answer your questions and provide you with assistance in determining your legal rights under provincial or federal laws - at no charge.

To request information about how to access the Helpline, please ask one of your Association executive or board members to send an email, including your Association's full name, to:

If your Association is not yet taking part in FOCA's Association insurance program, we invite you to request a quote by clicking here or calling the Cade team of Brokers at 416-234-9980.

Need answers or resources for your own Association? 
FOCA posts tonnes of member materials, here:

FOCA's Bronze-level Sponsors

Canadian Canoe Museum


Dock in a Box

FOCA's Operations Continue 

In light of the ongoing pandemic, FOCA staff continue to work away from our Peterborough office, to physically distance. We carry on serving our members 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:
Join over 10,000 subscribers and get on the Elert list for monthly cottage country updates from FOCA:

This is one of many member benefits. For more, visit:
Happy Thanksgiving from the FOCA staff

Before the leaves began to turn a few weeks ago, we had a short socially-distanced staff gathering in Peterborough. Pictured from left to right: Terry Rees (Executive Director), Patty Ulbricht (General Manager), Michelle Lewin (Communications & Development), Deanna Panitz (Membership & Programs).

From our families to yours, we wish you a safe and happy long weekend!

FOCA is the Federation of Ontario Cottagers' Associations, 
the voice of the waterfront for over half a century

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