FOCA Elert ~ May 2021

Here's your reading for the whole long weekend!
Grab a drink, and settle in, as we have SO MUCH news to share with you.
You'll know you've reached the end when you get to the "Final Thoughts" heading.
COVID Safety
Stay-at-home order
With the long weekend upon us, FOCA has been fielding calls about whether it is OK to go to the cottage. Despite some exceptions announced May 20th that come into effect on May 22nd (including boat and watercraft launches), Ontario's stay-at-home order remains in place until June 2nd.

During the stay at home order, the province advises, "do not travel outside your region or the province unless absolutely necessary." The province's rules say if you plan on going, it either has to be for less than 24 hours and for a necessary purpose such as emergency repairs or preparing your property for sale — or you must stay there for 14 days or longer. If isolating at your seasonal home, you should plan to bring all the supplies you need, and continue to avoid unnecessary contact and follow all other health precautions. FOCA posts related information here: https://foca.on.ca/covid-19-update-from-foca/
"New to cottaging" video resource from FOCA
We know lots of folks are having their FIRST cottage country experience this year, and may be thinking about buying or building a cottage. FOCA has created a video with key information about choosing an area, understanding the nature of your property, considerations for buying or building, and ways to get the most out of the experience including connecting with the local lake association! Click the image below to view:
Please post and share this information to help those in the early stages of their decision-making to start their waterfront experience sustainably and in harmony with their new community and the environment. The video link is: https://youtu.be/degdS-i5hDk

This, and other important information for new cottagers is available on FOCA's new webpage: https://foca.on.ca/cottage/ - share this news!
FOCA on CBC Radio's "The Current"
Don't miss FOCA's Terry Rees and other special guests discussing the prospects for the upcoming "one-shot summer" on The Current with host Matt Galloway, this Monday, May 24th, 2021 beginning at 8:30am. Tune in to your local CBC radio affiliate, or listen live using the online link on the top right of The Current's webpage.
FOCA Advocates for Responsive Government
Electricity Pricing - still pending
The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) has still not announced any decisions about how and when to proceed with the elimination of the seasonal rate class for Hydro One customers. The OEB is currently reviewing Hydro One's written response to ratepayer questions and concerns. We expect OEB will make decisions about the next steps in the weeks ahead, and FOCA will advise our members accordingly. Details and updates are always posted here: https://foca.on.ca/electricity-pricing/
Stopping the spread of invasive species
FOCA has written in support of regulating the movement of boats between waterways, as part of proposed amendments to Ontario's Invasive Species Act. Read FOCA's letter, and join our new email campaign to show your support as well. Links are posted here: https://foca.on.ca/invasive-species/.
Also, register below for FOCA's June 1st webinar on the topic of boater pathways.
Funding for the Muskoka Watershed
The province of Ontario has announced a commitment of over $4 million to fund 16 projects to help reduce the impacts of flooding and address the watershed health of the Muskoka River Watershed. The projects were selected from the recommendations made by the Muskoka Watershed Advisory Group (MWAG) in their interim report delivered in the summer of 2020. FOCA contributed to the MWAG consultations. Read more on FOCA's Water Management Plan webpage. (image: MuskokaWatershed.org)
Dock Foam Bill passes
As reported by our member group, the Georgian Bay Association:

Bill 228, Keeping Polystyrene Out of Ontario’s Lakes and Rivers Act, to ban unencapsulated dock foam in new docks and repairs has now completed its passage through the legislature [May 13, 2021]. This bill will help to reduce polystyrene pollution in Ontario waters.

MPP Norm Miller thanked GBA, along with Georgian Bay Forever, the Federation of Ontario Cottagers’ Associations, the Townships of the Archipelago, Georgian Bay and Carling for supporting this bill. He also thanked everyone who wrote letters to their MPPs and sent in pictures of the dock foam they have personally collected.

FOCA posts related information on our Microplastics webpage.
FOCA's Gold level sponsors
Sponsors support our work, please support them.
FOCA Promotes Healthy Lands, Lakes & Rivers
IsampleON
FOCA and the Invasive Species Centre (ISC) have launched a citizen science program called IsampleON (Invasive Species Awareness and Monitoring Program for Lakes Education Ontario) to collect and analyze water samples from 25 selected waterbodies, to monitor them for invasive mussels and spiny waterflea. Visit our program webpage: https://foca.on.ca/IsampleON/
You can get involved with this program too, by participating in the IsampleON photo contest. FOCA and our partners at ISC are calling on Ontarians to tell us why you want to protect your waters from aquatic invasive species. Enter to win by explaining how or why you are preventing, detecting, and monitoring for aquatic invasive species in your favourite Ontario waterbody. Deadline is August 31st 2021 at 11:59PM and you must provide a photo. A winner will be randomly selected at the end of the summer from all entries received. Enter the contest via this survey link.
Upcoming FOCA environmental webinars:
Register to join us for 3 separate 'lunch-and-learn' sessions in June. Registration is open to all FOCA members. Each 1-hour event will be recorded, and the digital recording will be shared with all registrants. (Not yet a FOCA member? Find out why you should be.)
1- Invasive Species & Boater Pathways
Tuesday, June 1, 2021 at noon
Join FOCA and Colin Cassin of the Invasive Species Centre for a discussion about boats as a potential pathway of spread for invasive species. FOCA will speak about the review underway of the Invasive Species Act including the regulation of the movement of boats between waterways. Click here to register for webinar #1.
2- DataStream hub for the Great Lakes region
Wednesday, June 16, 2021 at noon
FOCA will introduce our colleagues from the Gordon Foundation to speak about the Great Lakes DataStream open access hub for sharing water data, set to come online this Fall. Lake Partner Program data will be on DataStream. If you participate in water quality data collection of any kind in the Great Lakes and Saint Lawrence region, you'll want to hear about DataStream and the map and visualization tools that will make it easy to explore results and see where else monitoring is taking place around you.
3- Invasive Phragmites
Tuesday, June 29, 2021 at noon

Join FOCA and Brooke Harrison from Georgian Bay Forever for a discussion about invasive Phragmites: its characteristics, its spread and its controls. Click here to register for webinar #3.
As part of the Green Shovels Collaborative, FOCA is working with conservation partners and our members on the issue of invasive Phragmites, to protect nature and the economy. Find out more about Green Shovels and the work being done, including a new Best Management Practices Guide from the Ontario Invasive Plant Council, on our webpage: https://foca.on.ca/phragmites/
FOCA Champions Affordable & Safe Rural Living
Boating Safety
On behalf of our partners at the Canadian Safe Boating Council (CSBC), FOCA reminds everyone that Safe Boating Awareness Week starts this weekend and continues to May 28, 2021. Share the Canadian Safe Boating Campaign's 5 key messages:
  1. wear your lifejacket
  2. boat sober
  3. be prepared - you, and your boat
  4. take a boating course
  5. be aware of cold-water risks.
CSBC also reminds you to keep in mind recommendations related to physical distancing, and who should - and should not be - on your boat at this time. Here's to a great season on the water! FOCA posts related resource links here: https://foca.on.ca/safe-boating/
Upcoming webinars: Cottage Succession
FOCA and estate lawyer Peter Lillico have been teaching families about cottage succession planning for the past decade! Our traditional in-person events have shifted to digital for 2020 & 2021.

Thank you to our member associations who are the local hosts of these seminars. To see our 2021 event schedule, and for recordings of past seminars, visit: https://foca.on.ca/cottage-succession/
Event recap: Cardiac Safe Cottage Community
On April 21st, more than one hundred attendees participated in our 'lunch-and-learn' webinar about sudden cardiac arrest, Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs), and how to create a cardiac safe cottage community. The event was sponsored by Action First Aid.
Missed the webinar? Members are encouraged to visit FOCA's Emergency Preparedness webpage to:
> watch the digital recording (1 hour)
> access the extensive Q&A with questions posed by event attendees, and all answers provided by the experts.
You'll need your FOCA Member login for this and other member materials on the website. Don't have, or can't recall, the login? Email communications@foca.on.ca, and we'll reply during business hours.
Cottage Country Fire Safety
With recent stretches of dry weather, some parts of cottage country are already under fire bans this May. Seasonally, it's time to think about fire safety in your cottage, around your property, when BBQing, or having a campfire.

Get links to important Spring and Summer tips from the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs, a map of current fire hazard levels across the country, and much more on FOCA's Fire Safety Webpage.
FOCA Serves Lake & Road Associations
Virtual meetings can continue through 2021
FOCA members are advised that the Ontario government has confirmed that corporations governed by the Corporations Act (Ontario) can continue to hold meetings virtually until December 31, 2021, despite any provisions in their letters patent or by-laws to the contrary. See more information here: https://www.ontario.ca/page/covid-19-changes-meetings-and-business-operations. The Ontario Not for Profit Corporations Act (ONCA) (not yet in force) will have the same provisions, should it be proclaimed this year.
Do your members know about ALL their FOCA benefits?
All members of our Member Associations are entitled to access a series of discounts, special offers and other member benefits. Get the details (and login for information about the access codes), here: https://foca.on.ca/member-services/benefits/
FOCA's Silver level sponsors
Sponsors support our work, please support them.
Partner Updates & Regional Notices
Parks Canada remains closed
Following the advice, guidance, and requirements of public health authorities and to align with measures introduced by the Province of Ontario to limit the spread of COVID-19, Parks Canada has announced that the Rideau Canal National Historic Site, and the Trent-Severn Waterway National Historic Site will delay the launch of most visitor services including lockage, overnight mooring and camping until at least June 2, 2021. Visit https://www.pc.gc.ca/ for current information.
TSW boat view
Canada Census - last call
Statistics Canada reminds all Canadians to complete their 2021 census form, if you haven't already. Use the online portal, or call 1-855-340-2021. You'll need the secure access code that was included on the letter mailed to your permanent residence, earlier this spring.
Upcoming webinar series:
Ontario Biodiversity Summit
Find out more about how nature can help us address climate change and biodiversity loss at the 2021 Ontario Biodiversity Summit! Virtual sessions run from May to September and FOCA's Terry Rees will be moderating the June 17th event about aquatic biodiversity.
Drought possible for some, this Spring
With an early freshet this year, and recent hot and dry weather in many parts of Ontario, there is a potential for drought and low water levels in some areas. "In my 20 years, not issuing a Flood Warning during the annual spring freshet is unprecedented," noted Gordon Earle, Water Resources Technologist of Otonabee Conservation. Link to this, and related information, on FOCA's Low Water webpage. (historical image: QuinteConservation.ca)
Great Lakes lower food webs report
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released a report about the Great Lakes that is filled with interesting data and analysis of changes over the past decades. Some excerpts:
  • Lake Erie is currently the only Great Lake in which total phosphorus concentrations consistently or intermittently exceed water quality objectives
  • rapid shifts in the lower food web in Lake Huron in the early to mid-2000s are showing signs of moderation
  • Lake Superior has exhibited the least change over the past decade and is consistently classified as ultra-oligotrophic based on phytoplankton and nutrient conditions.
Visit FOCA's Great Lakes Environmental Research webpage for a link to the full report.
Volunteers sought for Loon Survey
Birds Canada is seeking volunteers who can participate in the Canadian Lakes Loon Survey this year, health restrictions and guidelines permitting. Learn more here. (image: Kirk Doughty)
Kenora Forest Management Planning
FOCA's western-most member association, the Lake of the Woods District Stewardship Association (LOWDSA), is currently involved in the public consultation phase of the Forest Management Plan (FMP) for Kenora area for the coming decade. LOWDSA is represented on the Local Citizens Committee of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry; however, additional public comment can be provided as part of the process through the Environmental Registry of Ontario. Get information in the press release from LOWDSA by clicking here.
#AlertMuskoka
The District Municipality of Muskoka recently announced they have selected a communication service provider, Voyent Alert!, whose application can provide area residents and visitors with timely and important safety information. Register for free to receive notifications in a variety of ways (including by app notification, text, email or voice call). Read the District notice and find a link to register for the app, by clicking here.
Upcoming webinars:
Lake Huron Coastal Webinar Series
FOCA's colleagues at the Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation have launched their 2021 webinar series lineup for important issues threatening water quality and ecosystem health along the Lake Huron shoreline. You are invited to participate! The ongoing summer series includes webinars about:
  • plastics, coastal ecosystem shorelines, development, plants, shorebirds, and species at risk.
Get details and links to register, here: https://www.lakehuron.ca/upcomingevents
Huron Shores & Manitoulin Island - improving internet
Residents in this region can learn more on FOCA's Rural Utilities webpage, and lend your support to a project being proposed by Huron Shore and Manitoulin Island Community Owned Fibre Infrastructure to build a high speed broadband network for the area.
Recent event & Upcoming webinars: Kawarthas
FOCA recently attended the Spring meeting of our member group, the Kawartha Lake Stewards Association (KLSA) where they released their annual report (soon to be posted here). FOCA also learned of the announcement of dates for a Summer 2021 webinar series presented by the Starry Stonewort Collaborative (SSC) - register for the monthly webinars (May to July) from links on the SSC Facebook Page.
Wildlife Sanctuary - Parry Sound-Muskoka
FOCA has been contacted by the Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary (AVWS) in Rosseau, which has dedicated over three decades to the rescue of injured, sick, nuisance or orphaned wildlife. Annually, AVWS responds to hundreds of public enquiries. Property owners in Parry Sound-Muskoka are encouraged to call them at 705-644-4122 for expert wildlife advice, or visit https://www.aspenvalley.ca/ for information.
Great Lakes survey: aquatic invasive species knowledge
FOCA has been asked to help find survey respondents located on the Great Lakes for a research project being conducted at the University of Toronto. The survey will gauge public knowledge about 3 particular aquatic invasive species, how people learn about them, and how that information affects public perception of invasive species management. The survey should take about 5 minutes; results are anonymous. Access the survey online here. Please share this invitation with others in communities along the Great Lakes!
Upcoming webinar: Libraries Love Lakes
Wednesday, June 2, 2021 at 2:00pm (ET) - Librarians, lake scientists, lake conservation organizations, community outreach educators and other interested folks are invited to register to attend a virtual information session about a new initiative, "Libraries Love Lakes" and its related website of online resources. The goal is to celebrate Lakes Appreciation Month (July) with programming in your local community! Get details and the link to register in this info sheet (download PDF, 1 page).
Recent webinar: Life in the 'Weeds'
Earlier this month, FOCA attended a great webinar about aquatic plants (spoiler: for the most-part, they're not 'weeds' and should be left as is, to do their job). Learn about the important role of these plants, and how to identify many of the common varieties! Watersheds Canada has posted the video recording to YouTube - access it here.
FOCA's Bronze level sponsors
Sponsors support our work, please support them.
FOCA Fosters Community
Celebrating Volunteers
FOCA sends congratulations to Terry Kennedy of our Member Association the Kennebec Lake Association, who recently received a 10-year Ontario Volunteer Service Award from the Ontario Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries.

FOCA nominated Terry K. for his decade of volunteer service with our organization, most recently as Past President of our FOCA Board of Directors, in addition to his contributions to his local lake association. Terry is wearing his Volunteer Service Award Pin in the image. Way to go, Terry! and thanks for your ongoing service on behalf of your waterfront community.

Find out how to nominate great volunteers in YOUR area, here: https://www.ontario.ca/page/honours-and-awards-volunteering#section-1
Final Thoughts
A message from FOCA to the hundreds of volunteers who organize events, keep our waterways safe, and monitor lake and river health, as well as on-land flora and fauna:

FOCA wants to ensure your health and well-being remain top priority during the current health crisis. We all want to get back to our on-the-ground work making waterfront Ontario safe, healthy and sustainable; but, first and foremost, we need to be certain we are all doing our part to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by following prevailing health directives.

We look forward to being able to resume all our great community work in the weeks and months ahead. For now, continue to practice safe distancing and follow all other recommended guidelines. Please do your part!

We learned to 'Zoom' our way through 2020 and - at least for the next little while - we'll have to continue using these alternative types of engagement to keep our community spirit and connections thriving.

We remind members that material about volunteering during the pandemic is posted here: https://foca.on.ca/toolkit-overview/
FOCA is the Federation of Ontario Cottagers' Associations,
the voice of the waterfront for nearly 60 years.
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