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FOCA Elert - January 2021
Winter Safety
Wintering in cottage country for the first time this season? FOCA urges new and veteran cottagers to consider a range of seasonal safety concerns:

Ice & Snowmobile Safety
January 16 to 24 is Snowmobile Safety Week, but unfortunately there have already been multiple fatalities on Ontario's frozen waterways in 2021, most recently on Georgian Bay last weekend; read the news here (Madawaska Valley Current). Recent milder-than-usual temperatures suggest that ice thicknesses may continue to fluctuate and be hazardous.

FOCA and our colleagues with the OPP SAVE Team would like to remind you that enjoying the out-of-doors in winter can be rewarding and fun, but safety should never take a vacation. Did you know that 35% of all drownings happen between October and April, and most of those are male snowmobiliers who have gone through the ice? For video tips and other important information, visit:


Snowmobile trails closed in North Bay Parry Sound
The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit has required all Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs' trails, and trails utilizing Crown land in the Health Unit district, to close for the duration of the stay-at-home order, to decrease the risk to community health presented by COVID-19. Read the news here 
(North Bay Nipissing.com)

Fire and Carbon Monoxide Safety
No matter where you are living, if you have a gas, oil, propane or wood-burning heating system or appliance you need working carbon monoxide alarms, as well as smoke detectors to keep your family safe.

Stay-at-Home Order
FOCA was interviewed by Global News' Kelly Cutrara earlier this week, on the subject: can you go to your cottage under the present emergency order? 
Hear Terry Rees, FOCA's Executive Director, respond (starting at minute 23:25 of the recording). Listen to the podcast here. 

For more cottage country related COVID-19 updates, visit:

Emergency app for Remote Locations
Also featured in the podcast mentioned above (starting at minute 14:55) is information about an exciting new app that has FOCA buzzing: 

What3Words works globally to help you tell emergency responders exactly where you are, by converting complex latitude/longitude combinations into three unique word sequences. (Proviso: you still need a bar of internet service in the moment, for the app to generate a new location code.) Download on your mobile device, or check out the functionality from your computer now: details are online here.

This message brought to you from the international headquarters 
of FOCA, located at "nodded.viable.ghosts" (according to What3Words!)
Upcoming FOCA Events: register now

Register now for the virtual FOCA AGM & Spring Seminar
Saturday, March 6, 2021by webinar (9:00am to 11:30am) 
It's time to register!
Topics include the Annual General Meeting of members, as well as updates from the Lake Partner Program, the new FOCA Phragmites project, important file and policy news, and presentation of the FOCA Achievement Award to a member Association. Details, including the event agenda, will be posted in the coming weeks on the event webpage.

Troubled Waters Forum: five part webinar series
Thursdays, February 4 to March 4, 2021 at 7:00pm  - FOCA is pleased to be a partner with the Greater Sudbury Watershed Alliance and the Vale Living with Lakes Centre for this free digital series
  • Feb.4 - Dr. John Gunn, "Imagine Sudbury in 2050: A Global Change Community."
  • Feb.11 - Dr. Norman Yan, "From Fireplace to Pancakes: Solving the Widespread Problem of Calcium Decline in Ontario, Starting in Sugar Bushes."
  • Feb.18 - Dr. Sapna Sharma, "On Thin Ice: Are Lakes Feeling the Heat?"
  • Feb.25 - Dr. Andrea Kirkwood, "Using the Community Science Co-Production Model to Inform Lake Management."
  • Mar.4 - Dr. John Smol, "The Power of the Past: Tracking Lake Ecosystem Changes in an Anthropocene World."

Register once to receive access to all five presentations.


FOCA's Gold-level Sponsors


CottageLINK Rental Management
FOCA's sponsors support our work; please, support them! 
Advocacy & Policy Updates

Fair Electricity Pricing
FOCA has launched a campaign to oppose the elimination of the Electricity Seasonal Rate Class that was ordered by the Ontario Energy Board in October 2020, because it will result in the DOUBLING of electricity rates for nearly 80,000 seasonal Hydro One customers and cottage owners. 

YOUR ROLE: Write your MPP
It only takes a moment to input your address and use the online software to automatically send an email to your cottage country MPP. We have provided a template message to make it quick and easy. 
(Pro tip: customize the subject line and first paragraphs to ensure your message gets read! For example, let your MPP know how long your family has been a property owner in their riding, or why your waterfront property matters so much to your family.) 
Join hundreds of other concerned citizens, and write your MPP here:

Those in northern and remote areas are especially at risk of being designated to the R2 category and facing big increases in their monthly electricity bill - we need you on the campaign map today! 
Then, share this information with 10 friends. 

FOCA continues to post background on the subject, here: Electricity webpage

Ministerial Zoning Orders (MZO):
Circumventing good local planning, public input 
Since 2019, over three dozen MZOs have been issued by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing; these decisions have been applied in municipalities that already have official plans and zoning by-laws in place. A number of these orders authorize controversial development on important agricultural lands, hazard lands, or where there is significant natural heritage.
Well-conceived land use planning provides economic and environmental health in our communities. FOCA believes the proposed enhancement of Ministerial zoning powers is shortsighted and carries significant risk to our environment.

The MZO proposal is open for comment on the Environmental Registry of Ontario (ERO No. 019-2811) until January 30, 2021.
Partner Survey

Better Land Use Planning at the Lake
FOCA is participating in an initiative to help lake associations and municipalities make sustainable, well-informed decisions related to land use around waterbodies. 
Lake Associations: your input is invited in a new survey from Watersheds Canada. The end product will be a set of online resources to help drive better shoreline planning and management. Your assistance -- by identifying local needs, challenges and successes -- will inform the resources being developed.  Here is the survey link:
Lake Partner Program News

Assistant Lake Stewardship Coordinator hired
FOCA is pleased to announce Liz Favot as the new Assistant Lake Stewardship Coordinator for the Lake Partner Program (LPP) with FOCA. 
We look forward to bringing Liz's significant interest and background to bear on our critical water issues, and in support of LPP volunteers. Liz comes to FOCA with a deep background on the environmental drivers for cyanobacteria blooms in Ontario, is the Region 11 Director for the North American Lake Management Society, and is passionate about fostering lake stewardship and working with shoreline property owners and enthusiasts to protect lake water quality. Since before she could walk, Liz has spent her summers cottaging on Lake Nipissing. Welcome, Liz! 
Learn more about the program here: LPP Overview webpage
More Upcoming Events & Regional Notices

Rural Ontario Municipal Association virtual event 
January 25-26, 2021 - On behalf of our members, FOCA will once again participate alongside municipal partners from across the province at the annual ROMA conference. This year's topical theme is "Connecting Rural Ontario" and will include updates from the Premier, a Ministers' Forum about rural economic resilience, and a feature on wellbeing as a foundation for rural recovery. 

photo: Scott Gillingwater, courtesy Blazing Star Environmental
Citizen Science in Action:
Western Chorus Frog - volunteers wanted
Spring 2021 - your help is needed, monitoring for the threatened western chorus frog, an indicator species that reflects the health of the environment around them. The program aims to determine species distribution to inform recovery actions, and enable the conservation community to quickly detect and respond to range declines over time. 

Volunteers will receive training materials, be assigned a site (or sites), and asked to conduct short daytime frog call surveys over a 3-week period between March and May, when the frogs start calling. Find out more online here or register for a February 6th webinar about the program. 
FOCA's Silver-level Sponsors


Lake Environments

Study confirms: extreme streamflow events increasing
@IJCsharedwaters TweetJan.8/21
A "hat-tip" from FOCA to the International Joint Commission (IJC) of Canada and the United States who brought to our attention a newly released Dartmouth, US study that confirms what we've all experienced firsthand in Ontario: an increase in river flooding and droughts over the past century is confirmed by the data. See more about the study, here
For updates and information about climate change impacts affecting you and your community, visit FOCA's Climate Change webpage.

Waterfront perspective on recognizing water leadership
FOCA's Terry Rees is on the selection committee for Water Canada Magazine's 2021 Water's Next awards. The awards celebrate people, projects, and technologies that demonstrate a strong commitment to improving the quality of the Canadian water sector. Terry was a Water's Next award winner in 2012. 
To see other past winners, or learn more about the awards, visit: 
Invasive Species Corner 

Tackling the challenge of invasive Phragmites
FOCA's Executive Director near invasive Phragmites
Invasive Phragmites (European Common Reed) is an invasive plant that causes damage to Ontario's biodiversity, wetlands and beaches. It is aggressive, spreads quickly, and out-competes native species for water and nutrients. FOCA has heard from many members how dramatically it impacts their local environment and waterfront experience, including impacts to swimming, boating and angling.

As part of the recently formed "Green Shovels Collaborative" FOCA is helping to develop a strategic framework for Phragmites management in OntarioFor more on FOCA's role in the Collaborative, visit our Invasive Species webpage.

Part of the work involves developing a summary of the current status of Phragmites projects in Ontario. 
If your local group has undertaken projects to try and control or eradicate this invader, your information will be invaluable to this important initiative. A detailed survey to gather your experiences can be found here:
Many thanks in advance for sharing your information.

Through this project, FOCA will also be providing funding for a number of local eradication projects in 2021. Details are coming soon! Contact info@foca.on.ca if you are interested.
Municipal Corner: our rural partners

In the past week, we noted a "Call for Community Compassion" email update from the Municipality of Huron Shores that we want to share:

In regards to the general influx of cases that we have seen over the last week or so, we know that it only takes one exposure to lead to increased numbers of COVID-19 cases ... It is important that in small communities such as those in Algoma, we continue to push the message of BEING KIND, and wrapping our small communities and sub-populations in as much support as we can. 

Please do not publicly shame any group or person, or paint an entire community with stigma, but rather wrap support around folks who are ill and need assistance, and combat misperceptions and stigma. 

Regardless of whatever local circumstances led the Municipality to issue the statement, FOCA feels the messaging is well worth sharing with all, for the spirit it engenders. We know 2020 exposed cracks in some relationships in our rural communities, and we encourage everyone to work together this year, as our lives and livelihoods remain under stress.
FOCA continues to post cottage country related COVID-19 updates here:
FOCA's Bronze-level Sponsors

Dock in a Box


Canadian Canoe Museum


FOCA works on behalf of Lake Associations
A letter from a member

In the last days of December, FOCA received a lovely letter from a member, that we can't resist sharing (although we took out identifying references to protect them from blushing!)

As President of [our] Cottage Association over the last 4 years, I have on many occasions called on FOCA for advice and information ... each time I have received the type of support and advice that keeps me motivated ... Recently, Cade Associates informed us of a new Legal Hotline service that FOCA had coordinated with DAS. ... I thought I would call to see if they could provide any advice [about a current situation]. ... I was pleased to receive a call back later that day ... [and the lawyer] took the time to research various options for us... 

I wanted to let you know that we feel this service is a valuable addition to the services offered by your organization. 

In summary, thank you to all of your team members for the work they do and the extra effort they put into every request. We appreciate all of your work, and wish you all a happier 2021.

The legal referral hotline mentioned above is a new benefit of the FOCA Association Insurance Program, administered by Cade Associates Insurance Brokers. Find out more about how FOCA supports our members, here:
Your Role: FOCA 50K 

We are very proud of FOCA's Elert subscription list, which is now over 11,600 strong, and growing every week. Will you help us achieve our ambitious goal of increasing that to 50,000 subscribers? 

We know there are folks out there who love waterfront Ontario as much as you do. Please encourage your waterfront neighbours and fellow association members to sign up directly for these monthly e-news updates from FOCA. 

You can help us by sharing this message:

The "Elert" is FOCA's free monthly e-newsletter, filled with cottage country updates on waterfront living, environmental and policy developments, and so much more. Subscribe to the free FOCA Elert, today:  

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

 info@foca.on.ca    |    705-749-3622    |    https://foca.on.ca 
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