FOCA Elert - January 2020

It might not seem like "cottage country" time to some, but there is so much going on year-round that involves FOCA and affects waterfront property owners! Here are important updates for you:

Register NOW for the FOCA AGM & Spring Seminar 
Saturday, March 7, 2020

This year's theme is "Keeping the Focus on Waterfront Ontario" and the event includes seminars, displays, the FOCA Annual General Meeting, and presentation of the FOCA Achievement Award to a member Association. 

We will enjoy a NEW LOCATION in the north end of Toronto (Thornhill) for this event, to accommodate even more of you for networking and sharing. Get details, and register to participate in person or by webinar, here:

What others say about attending our events: 
" I came to the FOCA AGM and loved it. 
 If I knew how great it was, I'd have volunteered to attend way sooner!"
 - Jan V, 2019, member association representative
Advocacy & Policy Updates

Electricity Pricing
FOCA's Executive Director at the offices of the OEB, Dec.2019
As an intervenor with the Ontario Energy Board (OEB), FOCA submitted an Interrogatory Motion 
in support of Hydro One's October 2019 proposal NOT to eliminate the Seasonal Class of electricity customers . Read FOCA's submission and  get background on this file, here: 

Watershed Management
image:, Aug.2019
On January 23, 2020, FOCA participated with regional partners at a meeting of the  Muskoka Watershed Advisory Group  in Port Carling . This group was appointed by the province in August 2019 to provide recommendations to protect the Muskoka watershed. 

The Advisory Group is receiving input  on priorities, opportunities and possible project ideas   from interested parties via email to  until February 7th, and  will report findings and recommendations to the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks in May 2020. While much of the input to date has related to water quantity management and flooding, a range of watershed challenges, including changes to water quality, have been discussed. 

For more about water management plans, including recent developments in eastern Ontario, visit:
Climate Change Discussions
Late in 2019, the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks announced appointments to a new  Advisory Panel on Climate Change , consisting of several of FOCA's colleagues who are experts on climate change resilience in the not-for-profit, agriculture and insurance sectors. Get details on our webpage:

Spring Bear hunt 
Black bear image from
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is proposing to implement a regular spring black bear season, to shorten the Bruce Peninsula black bear hunting season, and to make other minor updates to black bear regulations. With some limited exceptions, the spring season would continue to run annually from May 1st to June 15th. The harvest of bear cubs and female bears accompanied by a cub would remain prohibited. For more information and to weigh in with your own 
comments until February 18, 2020,  visit the posting on the Environmental Registry:

Conservation Authorities Act under review
The Ontario Ministry of Environment Conservation and Parks is conducting a series of meetings in early 2020 to engage key stakeholders to gather input on "how to improve efficiencies, consistency, transparency and oversight of conservation authorities  (CA's)."  FOCA will be providing input about the interaction of lake associations and lake residents with CA's  at an upcoming meeting in Peterborough. FOCA has member associations  in about 60 municipalities served by CA's, and posts related information and background here:   
FOCA's Gold-level Sponsors

support our work!

Please, support them.

CottageLINK Rental Management
Program Updates

Lake Partner Program - An Update
In December 2019, FOCA's Executive Director and Vice President of the Board of Directors met with program partners at the Ministry of Environment Conservation and Parks (MECP) to continue discussions about the ongoing importance of the Lake Partner Program of volunteer water quality monitoring of Ontario's inland lakes. 

Also in mid-December 2019, FOCA received the positive news we have been waiting for, in a letter from the Assistant Deputy Minister of MECP, which stated: 

"The Lake Partner Program collects important water quality information from hundreds of lakes across the province, raises awareness of environmental stewardship and promotes citizen science. Without the work and support of FOCA, its members and dedicated volunteers, the ministry would not be able to collect the type and breadth of water quality information needed to understand and protect the health of our inland waters. As such, I am pleased to inform you that the ministry intends to continue its collaboration with FOCA and financially supporting this relationship." 

Thank you to all our members and supporters who wrote the province and their MPPs about the importance of the Lake Partner Program! We heard your voices really added up. 


Stay tuned, lake stewards! Your 2020 water sampling kits will be sent out to you this Spring, as usual.  Not sure if your lake is being sampled as part of the Lake Partner Program, or what's involved? Find out, here:
Citizen Science in the Winter Months!

Bird Count
February 14-17, 2020 - join tens of thousands of volunteers in the 23rd annual  Great Backyard Bird Count: participate by counting birds for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of this year's count, and enter your sightings at 2019 results included reports from 50 different Ontario counties. Birds Canada is a partner in the effort, a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society.

Trumpeter Swan Census
February 1, 2020 - Volunteers are needed in known wintering sites in Ontario, to assist with a count of North American Trumpeter Swans. Get details, a list of known sites around the province, and a link to report your findings, on this Facebook page about the count

Western Chorus Frog Call Project
photo: Scott Gillingwater, courtesy Blazing Star Environmental
NEW: launching Spring 2020 - FOCA has been contacted to find citizen scientists interested in a new long-term, range-wide monitoring program for the threatened western chorus frog,  an indicator species that reflects the health of the environment around them. This program aims to determine the 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 roughly 3-week period between March and May, when the frogs start calling. Visit the volunteer posting to see a map of the existing observation range, and find out how to indicate your interest to participate.

Citizen Science - Learn more
FOCA has created a short video about citizen science, and has released a Guide that includes links to a whole range of different monitoring programs across Ontario that you can engage in, year-round. Please share these resources. Start here:
Also on FOCA's Citizen Science webpage: scroll down to the "Related News" section to access links to last October's Lake Links Workshop slides, handouts and videos, featuring applications for citizen science at your lake.

FOCA's Silver-level Sponsors



Cottage Life
Regional Notices & Other Upcoming Events 

Fireworks - Public Comment
The Municipality of Highlands East seeks public input on a draft fireworks bylaw expected to go before Council in February 2020. Click here for the Municipal web notice that includes a link to a poll about restrictions or a total ban of fireworks;  add your comments by 9:00am, February 3, 2020 . In a related  media story ,  Fire Chief Chris Baughman notes input  has been received from cottage associations in the area. FOCA posts background and updates on this topic, here:

FOCA to speak at OOWA Convention
On Tuesday, March 3, 2020 FOCA's Executive Director will be a featured speaker at the Ontario Onsite Wastewater Association (OOWA) annual convention and expo. Terry will review septic re-inspection program research that led to the release of the 2019 report  by FOCA and our partners . Get links to the report and additional septic system resources, here: 
Sponsors' Corner

Welcome to Separett Waterless Toilets
FOCA is pleased to welcome Separett Waterless Toilets - distributed across Canada by Canadian ECO Products - as our newest Silver Sponsor. The Separett environmentally sustainable solution has been available for almost 50 years in Europe, and in Canada since 2011.  Separett provides an economical, long-term solution to your cottage toilet needs. 

Special offer: Canadian ECO Products is offering FOCA members a 5% discount on Separett purchases.  For more information about your new Separett toilet, please call: 1-855-402-9735 and reference this code: FOCA2020 . They will be pleased to answer any questions you may have.

Sponsors support FOCA's work; please, support them! See more about all the offers available to you:
Rural Living - Land & Water

Rural Road Issues
In November 2019, Council of the City of Timmins weighed the fairness of plowing selected cottage roads, as reported by the Timmins Daily Press. Note that Timmins has outlined maintenance standards for 'elevating' non-serviced roads to become serviced; download a copy of the 2016 Charland & Bertrand Road Winter plowing report (PDF, 14 pages). 

Meanwhile, the Township of Rideau Lakes has extended to February 15, 2020  the deadline   for feedback from local private road residents on a draft policy related to Council's review of private road curbside collection. Get details, including a link to the draft policy report (November 2019), by clicking here
Off-Road Vehicles
Ontario's "Better for People, Smarter for Business" Act (Bill 132) passed on December 10th. Among many other outcomes, the Act is intended to see the Ministry of Transportation set out specific requirements in the regulations for a municipality to permit off-road vehicles (ORV) on municipal roads. According to the Province, this will be done in consultation with industry, the ORV riding community, municipalities and enforcement services. Read more, in the original press release. 

2020 Fishing Ontario Guide released
Ontario Fish and Wildlife has released the newest edition of the annual guide to recreational fishing regulations for the province. This year's cover includes an image from the 1930's, but the information inside is all new. Starting January 1st, 2020, some changes have been made to sizes and limits in particular fisheries management zones. Download a copy of the 2020 Guide here:

Boat Sales Statistics released
The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) of North America announced in January 2020 that retail unit sales of new powerboats held steady in 2019 at approximately 280,000 units. New personal watercraft sales were up around 6% as were wake sport boats, while freshwater fishing boat sales were down as much as 7%. 
If you are  a new boat owner (or know one), please visit FOCA's " watch your wake " webpage for links to important information about safe and respectful boating, to reduce the impact that boating can have on shorelines, loon nests and neighbourly relations!
Recent Events of Note

Healthy Great Lakes Meetings
December 2, 2019 and January 28, 2020. FOCA is working alongside the Canadian Environmental Law Association and other partners to build a more connected Great Lakes constituency. The  Healthy Great Lakes initiative involves law reform and public legal education, through engaging with government, elected officials, collaborating organizations and the interested public. 

Promoting Stewardship across The Land Between
January 8, 2020 - Orillia. FOCA participated with partners from  the Land Between at a meeting to review stewardship priorities across the region, and to discuss ways to motivate change in everyday actions in support of these common goals. 

FOCA with municipal partners (above);  Ministers speaking (John Yakabuski, MNRF, pictured below)
January 19-21, 2020 - Toronto. FOCA participated in the Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) conference, on behalf of our member associations located in rural municipalities across the province. This year's conference theme was "Rural Ontario: Moving Forward" and presentations are available for download, here. The annual event is an opportunity for FOCA to connect with municipal partners and Ontario Ministers on topical issues, in support of our slogan:
  Rural Ontario: We're in this, together

Boating Advisory Meeting
January 21, 2020 -  FOCA is a member of the Ontario  Recreational Boating Advisory Council   (ONRBAC) , and attended their annual meeting in Toronto, where topical issues related to boating were discussed, including recent trends in boating accidents/fatalities, Great Lakes water levels, and the new Canadian Navigable Waters Act. For boating safety res ources and related links, visit:


Connecting with the Building Community
January 22, 2020 - Peterborough. FOCA was an exhibitor at the Annual Meeting of the Peterborough & the Kawarthas Home Builders Association , to deliver information to industry proressionals about the importance  of waterfront setbacks, naturalized shorelines, and septic system best practices, among other topics. 

Building or renovating in cottage country? 
Download a 2-page overview of tips from FOCA and our colleagues at Cade Associates Insurance Brokers.

Building Science Partnerships
January 29, 2020 - FOCA continues to connect with leading academics in aquatic science, to support our community and the health of our lakes. 
FOCA's Terry Rees speaking at PEARL
Most recently, FOCA took part in the Limnology Seminar Series at the Queen's University's Paleoecological Environmental Assessment and Research Laboratory (PEARL) where Professors John Smol and Brian Cumming supervise a significant body of work relevant to our inland lakes, including bettering our understanding of changing algae conditions, acidification, contaminants, and many forms of aquatic pollution. 
FOCA's Bronze-level Sponsors
Nature Clean New Logo 2013


Dock in a Box
Canadian Canoe Museum
Member Notices

image: Ashburnham Funeral
Remembering Jim Sangster
FOCA was saddened to hear of the passing of James Sangster, a long-time supporter of the Paudash Lake Conservation Association and a great regional contact for FOCA over the past two decades. Our condolences, on behalf of FOCA, go to Jim's wife Molly and the family.

Members appointed  to the Order of Canada
FOCA member group, the  Buck Lake Association (BLA), happily reported that their long-time resident Duncan Sinclair was among those appointed to the Order of Canada by Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada on December 28, 2019. Here is part of the notice from BLA:

image: Queens University
Duncan is being recognized for his contributions to the Canadian health care system as a teacher, university administrator and adviser, and for his leadership in health care reform in Ontario. In addition to these many contributions, Duncan has also cottaged on Buck Lake since 1966 and lived here since 2000. He has volunteered many times as a board member and as President for the BLA, and has served on the Buck Lake Boatilla committee for many years. He is always willing to share his knowledge and memories of the history of the lake.

image:  IJC
Similarly, the Georgian Bay Association was pleased to report that their member, Gord Walker, became a Member of the Order Canada for his civil service as a parliamentarian and for his commitment to protecting transboundary waters between Canada and the United States. In addition to being a long-standing Cognashene cottager, Gord worked tirelessly on the International Joint Commission (IJC) for four years as a Commissioner in the 90's, and more recently five years as Canadian Chair, as well as seven years as an Ontario government minister. 

FOCA adds our congratulations on these significant recognitions!


Have a story to share about a fellow FOCA member? Please send it to us.
FOCA Member Benefits

In addition to FOCA's ongoing work on behalf of waterfront Ontario, our members gain access to several specific benefits, offers and discounts from our partners and corporate sponsors. Review all the 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.
What others are saying...

FOCA always appreciates member feedback. Here's what one representative wrote after their association renewed their FOCA membership recently:

"Thanks for continuing to provide such a wealth of information and resources for our Board, and all our members. We are fortunate to have such a terrific association available to us, and grateful for your support! Keep up the good stuff."  ~Kate O., GLPOA
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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