FOCA Elert ~ August 2022

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FOCA Events

Save the date: FOCA Fall Seminar

Saturday, November 19, 2022

by webinar 9:00am - 12:00pm

Our annual Fall Seminar for Lake and Road Associations will be held by webinar this year. Plan to join us for updates on FOCA's work, results from our recent surveys, the launch of our revised website, and the release of a forthcoming significant report about the economic impact of waterfront property owners across Ontario! Also, get association tips for engaging with your incoming municipal council as they head into their 4-year term. 

For now, hold the date. Details will be posted here:

Registration will open in September and you'll be updated in the next Elert.

FOCA Surveys

survey recap: Cottage Country Hot Topics & FOCA's Roles

Thanks to the hundreds of you who took part in our June 2022 survey, asking about the top issues facing cottage country, and FOCA's related roles, communications and member benefits. Here are some highlights (we'll share more at the FOCA Fall Seminar): 

97% of those with an opinion (n=487) agreed with the statement, "FOCA has information worth sharing with others." Thank you, and please keep sharing!

We heard that you value: FOCA's advocacy, our network, our programs, our communications, and your member benefits (like a member price on events, dedicated online resources, and discounts or deals from our partners and corporate sponsors). However, some folks said "A lot of these I didn't know about" or "My association hasn't been sharing that information with us." As a result, we've decided to feature one membership benefit each month in the Elert; check out the new section, below: FOCA Member Benefit: a Highlight

1/4 of our survey respondents live at their waterfront year-round (n=696). Although these hundreds of respondents only represent a fraction of the thousands of waterfront property owners in Ontario, this bears out the shift we've noticed since urban real estate began to get out of reach, and especially since the pandemic started in 2020.

new FOCA survey: Trends in Waterfront Ontario 

With this question about usage in mind, we are now launching a new survey to help us learn more. Did you use your property more, less, or the same amount as usual, during the past two pandemic years? Do you have year-round access? Are you on an island? A private road?

Also, we received hundreds of responses in our June survey about the top current cottage country issues. See what made the “top 10”, and help us decipher which ones should be at the very top of the list, in this new survey.

Participate by September 23rd, and please share the survey link widely with all your community contacts:

Feel free to post the link online; we'd like to hear from everyone in this survey!

FOCA Champions Safe & Affordable Rural Living

Short-term Rentals

There are several new entries on FOCA's webpage devoted to the topic of short-term rental (STR) in cottage country:

  • Airbnb has announced new 'anti-party' technology tools
  • Tiny Township and Haliburton County have each announced new regulations
  • FOCA's Terry Rees was interviewed on the Cottage Life podcast about STR and encouraging positive behaviour amongst cottage visitors.

Access these links & earlier news:

Cottage Succession Planning

Thank you to the hundreds of registrants who participated in FOCA's August 17th succession seminar. We have 3 more sessions scheduled:

  • September 21st - "An introduction to Cottage Succession" hosted by the Manitouwabing Lake Community Association
  • September 22nd - "An introduction to Cottage Succession" hosted by the Jack's Lake Association
  • September 28th - a deeper diver into "Targeting Tax" hosted by the Chandos Lake Property Owners Association.

These valuable events are free for FOCA members! Get details, links to register, and access to purchase recordings of past talks on our webpage:

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FOCA Advocates for Responsive Government

Funding Committed to High-Speed Internet

The Province of Ontario announced they have signed agreements with 8 service providers, and committed nearly $4 billion to bring high-speed internet access to up to 266,000 unserved and underserved homes and businesses by the end of 2025. Link to this news and related updates, on FOCA's Rural Utilities webpage.

Municipal Elections

Municipalities have begun to post election information, in advance of the October 24, 2022 election date. See an example of handy video resources from the Township of Douro-Dummer here. NOTE: voting methods will be different in different municipalities. Find your own municipality here.

Lots of Council seats up for grabs 

In related news, the last date to register as a candidate in the upcoming municipal elections was Friday, August 19th. According to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO), for the 2022 election, there are 2,861 positions to be decided. Check your municipal website (the link to find your municipality is above) for details about your local voting methods, and list of candidates. Visit for more about who can vote.

Are you on the List?

Importantly, FOCA reminds you to ensure you and your spouse are on the Voters' List in the municipality of your Ontario waterfront property, for the October municipal elections. Note that after September 1st, you will have to contact your municipal clerk to be added to the list of eligible voters.

FOCA Member Benefits: a highlight

A Voter Engagement Guide for Associations

FOCA member Association representatives can login on the FOCA website to access a digital Vote for your Future Toolkit; enter the member login for access to this members-only resource. This guide has your overview about who can vote, frequently asked questions, how to communicate to your members about the municipal election, holding "all-candidates" meetings, and much more. Although written for the 2018 election, the advice holds; only the dates change!

Remember to check out all the current member benefits for your Association, and our member families, here: If you need help accessing your benefits, email us.

Municipal Partner Feature

Watershed Planning - Muskoka

As part of Phase 2 of the District of Muskoka's "Making Waves: Integrated Watershed Management" Initiative, a review of land use policy is underway to identify how natural capital (water, forests, wetlands, rock barrens, species) could be effectively managed through an 'environment-first' approach across the entire watershed, in order to sustain ecosystem services for the community and the economy. Learn more about Linking Natural Capital and Land Use. (PDF, 2 pages)

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New Partner Article of Note

Citizen Scientists: stewards of community trust

Can citizen scientists counter anti-science attitudes and help to build public trust in science? Or, is the recent popularity of citizen science indicative of growing public hostility towards professional expertise in favour of 'alternative facts' in a 'post truth' era? Does the democratization of science (by involving unpaid citizens) marginalize the authority of science 'experts' on subjects of environmental policy, or make it more relatable and 'real'?

A new article published this August in Environmental Sociology, written by FOCA and our University partners, addresses these themes. The article springs from a qualitative case study of our Lake Partner Program volunteers. Get a link to the article, and more about citizen science, here:

FOCA thanks our dedicated Lake Partner Program volunteers, and all of you who participate in local sampling, monitoring, or species counts! Your efforts help to advance important science in our watersheds, and your role as science communicators is crucial in this day and age.

image: Brenda Ferris

FOCA Promotes Healthy Lands, Lakes & Rivers

Green Shovels: Phragmites control

Phragmites australis is one of Canada's worst invasive species. It is a serious threat to biodiversity and causes extensive negative socio-economic impacts. This summer, FOCA sought proposals from our Member Associations across the province to run projects addressing invasive Phragmites control at the local level. Five FOCA Member Associations were successful recipients of Green Shovels funding and the work is now underway! 

In related news, our Green Shovels partners at the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) are working in and around Georgian Bay to control Phragmites australis. They want landowners to know that taking action to stop this invader in its tracks on your own shoreline makes a difference! What can you do? See the NCC instructional video with great tips for identification and removal. Get a link to the video, best management practices guides, and much more on FOCA's webpage:


Thank you to our many IsampleON volunteers who collected water samples this season. The program used the help of volunteer citizen scientists to monitor for and prevent aquatic invasive species introductions in Ontario’s inland lakes. The program will contribute both to local knowledge, and a broader understanding and awareness of aquatic invasives through provincial data repositories.

Volunteers: if you haven't yet sent pictures of your local efforts, please send us your photos now

IsampleON is a citizen science program targeted at water sampling for invasive zebra mussels and spiny waterflea. Learn more about this year’s program, here:

Asian Carp Response Plan

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), in partnership with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF), has developed an Asian Carp Response Plan under the Incident Command System (ICS) framework. An ICS response is activated when an Asian carp is sighted and verified. Staff get to work, assessing the fish and its fertility, and efforts may include on-the-water activities to capture others in the area. 

Great Lakes Members: You may hear from FOCA by email in instances where the ICS framework is not activated but there is value in alerting local communities of confirmed Asian carps sightings or captures, so you can be helpful eyes on the water for further sightings. Learn more, here:

Partner Updates & Regional Notices

Early results: Ash = More Syrup!

As described in a mid-August Facebook post, the early results of efforts to spread wood ash in sugar maple forests has yielded some exciting results: after just one season, there was on average twice as much sap produced from trees in the ash plots, compared to the control plots. Read more in the Dockside Publishing online article, using the Facebook link above. FOCA has been following developments of Dr. Norman Yan and the Friends of the Muskoka Watershed's project, AshMuskoka, for a number of years now. Very 'sweet' results!

last call: Mississippi-Rideau Survey

Property owners on the following lakes in the Mississippi-Rideau Source Protection Region are reminded to respond to a Rideau Valley Conservation Authority survey about private drinking water systems by August 31, 2022. Access the survey here. The selected Rideau lakes are: Eagle, Wolfe, Christie, Otty, Bass, Otter, Upper Rideau. FOCA is pleased to be part of this important research and we look forward to sharing the subsequent recommendations.

IJC Commissioner visits flooded Rainy-LOW Area

The International Joint Commission (IJC) Commissioner, Lance Yohe, visited the aftermath of spring flooding in the Rainy River-Lake of the Woods (LOW) basin, together with staff and members of the International Rainy-LOW Watershed Board's Water Levels Committee. The group met with many affected by flooding across the region on both sides of the border including First Nations, municipal leaders, business owners, and others. They discussed the historic flooding, a result of extreme precipitation during a wet and cold April and May, and offered their thoughts on resiliency, rebuilding, and when waters would recede. Read an account of their visit in this August update from IJC.

Throughout August, the water level on Lake of the Woods has continued to recede, although the most recent report (August 29th) from the Lake of the Woods Control Board (LWCB) indicated the current level is still over the 95th percentile for this time of year. Get the details from LWCB.

Muskoka Lakes: Dark Sky By-law input

The Township of Muskoka Lakes is seeking public input about updating the Dark Sky By-law which regulates outdoor illumination. Get information and provide your feedback here.

For more on the topic of night light, read the article by Robert Dick in last year's FOCA Lake Stewards Newsletter (PDF, 32 pages; see pp.10-11).

image: R. Dick

Tay Township: Dock By-law?

During a Committee meeting earlier this month, Tay Township's Manager of Planning and Development Services proposed that the Township consider implementing a Zoning By-law for dock size, similar to the one already on the books in the neighbouring Township of Georgian Bay. Read more from Cottage Life on the topic, from a link on FOCA's webpage:

Great Lakes Public Forum

September 27-29, 2022 - Niagara Falls & virtual. This forum will provide an opportunity for members of the public, organizations, and agencies with an interest or involvement in the restoration and protection of the Great Lakes to learn, share, and participate in discussions. The Governments of Canada and the United States will discuss the state of the Great Lakes, restoration and protection opportunities and binational priorities for science and action, and invite the general public to participate and comment on these plans. The International Joint Commission will also discuss and receive public input on the Progress Report of the Parties. Get a link to more info & how to register by Sept. 5th:

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Dock in a Box
Final Thoughts

Looking for a long weekend activity that's free, easy, and good for you? Do some forest bathing

Forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku, is the term used in Japan to refer to the practice of immersing yourself in a wooded area and taking time to take in the trees through your senses. The practice can lower your stress, boost your body's immunity, and improve the quality of your sleep. Set off on a leisurely wander in the trees, without worrying about going too far or having a particular destination in mind. Soak in the goodness. Learn more from the Hamilton Halton Brant Regional Tourism Association's webpage:

The FOCA office will be closed Monday, September 5, 2022. We wish you and your families well on this Labour Day long weekend! Be safe & enjoy the great outdoors.

FOCA is the Federation of Ontario Cottagers' Associations,
the voice of the waterfront for the past 60 years.
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