FOCA Elert - December 2020
Skating Banner with FOCA logo
Happy Holidays from the FOCA staff
Click below for holiday greetings from us to you:

COVID and Cottage Country

image Kirk Doughty
Wherever you will be this holiday season, FOCA reminds you to stay safe and follow public health guidelines

The Canada-US border remains closed, and within the province public health organizations continue to discourage non-essential travel for everyone; however, if you will be relocating to your cottage country property, consider the following: 
  • bring everything you need to avoid stops along the way, and so you can self-isolate for 14 days once you arrive there
  • remain only with your own household; this is not the time for family gatherings
  • if you are staying longer, contact local shops to find out about touchless, curbside or delivery options
  • keep in touch with your community through calls or social media (or even the dreaded Zoom!) to share stories about how you are doing, to talk about the good times at the waterfront, and to make plans for the season that include active, outdoor, COVID-appropriate activities.

Here is an example of several practical tips for seasonal property owners, from our colleagues at Peterborough Public Health. (PDF, 1 page) 


Additionally, Seguin Fire Department has posted important fire safety information for those who may be wintering in their cottage for the first time.

Associations: please share this information 
with your members, friends and neighbours!
Advocacy & Policy Updates

In Support of Conservation Authorities
Following up on FOCA's participation earlier this year in Minister's consultations, in early December FOCA presented to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario's Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs. FOCA spoke in opposition to Schedule 6 of Bill 229 which included proposed amendments to the Conservation Authorities Act. Read more on FOCA's website, here.

Upcoming FOCA campaign to stop rising hydro rates
FOCA is preparing to launch a campaign to stop the elimination of the Electricity Seasonal Rate Class that was ordered by the Ontario Energy Board in October, because this change will result in the DOUBLING of electricity rates for nearly 80,000 seasonal Hydro One customers and cottage owners. 

If this issue concerns you, as it does us, please sign up for FOCA's new dedicated electricity e-newsletter, called The Power Line
We will be issuing our call to action there first, early in the new year. Read a message from FOCA's Executive Director and subscribe here: Electricity E-news. Then, share this information with 10 friends. 

For background on this issue, and links to more information about the elimination of the seasonal rate class, visit FOCA's Electricity webpage

Ministerial Zoning Orders 
Ministerial zoning orders (MZOs) are a provincial tool used infrequently to meet urgent Provincial priorities; however, Ontario has used 33 MZOs since April 2020. FOCA is concerned that the shortcut provided by MZOs disregards sound environmental protection, excludes local oversight, and does not represent good land use planning. Threats to our water and shorelands can be the results. Find out more on FOCA's Land Use Planning webpage.
Lake Partner Program News

Program Renewal
FOCA is pleased to announce we have entered into a new 5 year agreement in support of the Lake Partner Program (LPP), carrying on our longstanding partnership between dedicated waterfront volunteers and the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks. Our important work together supports the shared commitment to the long term monitoring of our precious freshwater lakes. Find out more about the program on our LPP Overview webpage.

LPP Chloride Results now available
FOCA is pleased to report that the Lake Partner Program Chloride concentration dataset from 2015 to 2019 is now available for download from FOCA's LPP Sampling webpage, or can be viewed online from a link available on our webpage. Chloride is one of four parameters monitored through the LPP. Chloride is an essential element found in fresh and salt water, but road salt also makes its way to waterbodies through runoff, to potentially harmful effect.
FOCA's Gold-level Sponsors


CottageLINK Rental Management
FOCA's sponsors support our work; please, support them! 
Rural Living

Internet Speed Test
Check your own internet speed, using the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) online tool. 
The map at the right is a sample of part of the nearly one million results recorded so far! The link to the test is available from FOCA's Rural Utilities webpage.

Cold water boating: stay safe
Pictured at right is FOCA's Executive Director, checking on the condition of his own water-access cottage after severe wind storms in late November 2020. (Update from Terry: all was well, this time!)

FOCA reminds you to be prepared and aware of the dangers of cold water boating. Get information and useful links on FOCA's Boating Safety webpage.

OOWA - Winter Septic Tips
Here's a timely winter tip from our partners at the Ontario Onsite Wastewater Association (OOWA): if you have a septic system on your property don't build a skating rink over your leaching bed! Get more important homeowner tips from OOWA here

The changing dangers of winter ice
FOCA banner - winter lake hockey
A new article from Veronica Penny of the New York Times describes research by our colleague Dr. Sapna Sharma of York University about the ways climate change is making winter ice more dangerous. Find the link to this article, and more information, on FOCA's Ice Safety webpage.

Pleasure Craft Licensing Program Updates 
As mentioned first in FOCA's November Elert, Transport Canada's Office of Boating Safety is now considering changes to the Pleasure Craft Licensing Program (including reducing 10-year licenses to 5-years) and to the Pleasure Craft Operators Card (including strengthening course accreditation requirements, and repealing the provision for the Rental Boat Safety Checklist as being accepted proof of competency). Public comment on these proposals can be made by January 15, 2021, from links on FOCA's Boating webpage.
FOCA Fall Seminar for Lake Associations

Event Recap
We had a jam-packed Agenda for FOCA's first entirely digital Fall Seminar for Lake Associations on November 21st! Thank you to all our attendees, speakers and sponsors for making it such a success.  Members are encouraged to visit the event webpage to download a free Event Summary


NOTE: you will need your FOCA Member Login to access this and other members-only materials online. Don't have, or can't recall, your login?

Contact us, and we'll respond during business hours.


Thanks to those of you who have already shared updates from the event in your own Association newsletters. We've been enjoying reading the reports; keep sending them to us!


Everyone who had paid to participate in the event has already been sent the link to review the 3-hour webinar recording, including presentations on:

  • rural broadband developments
  • electricity pricing and the seasonal rate class
  • FOCA's new Strategic Plan, key files and program updates
  • your FOCA member Benefits, including a new "legal helpline" as part of the FOCA Association Insurance offering
  • great Association success stories from safe summer 2020 events
  • an update on the year in boating, from the OPP.


Missed it, but still want to watch the webinar for the topics above? 

FOCA Members can register to access the digital recording.


Call for Photos: 
Associations who pivoted in 2020

Did you or your lake association take photos this year, of cottage country folks wearing masks and maintaining physical-distancing regulations? FOCA would love to see the pictures! Send us your images for a chance to be featured in the 2020 FOCA Year in Review publication.

Please email images with a description of who, what and where, to:
Thank you!
Follow up: Boat parade liability considerations? 

During the FOCA Fall Seminar, we heard about lake associations that hold on-water events, such as boat parades. One attendee asked what the liability implications were for such volunteer events. We decided to speak with our colleague Ross Fraser at Cade Associates Insurance Brokers, to get the answers. Join Terry of FOCA, and Ross, in a 5 minute video chat about the considerations:

Your Role: FOCA 50K 

We are very proud of FOCA's Elert subscription list, which is now over 11,000 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's Silver-level Sponsors


Welcome, Olivia! 

Olivia Huber has joined FOCA as part of a Canada Summer Jobs initiative that was postponed due to the pandemic and social-distancing office requirements. 

We are pleased to have her working with us again, to assist with archiving some of FOCA's 50+ years of stewardship in Ontario. 

Olivia worked previously with FOCA as a summer student in 2019, as our Outreach Coordinator at local farmers' markets and community events. Welcome back, Olivia!

Meet all the FOCA staff and Board on the Our Team webpage.
Lake Environments

IJC Great Lakes Recommendations
On December 10 the International Joint Commission (IJC) released the 2020 Second Triennial Assessment of Progress Report on Great Lakes Water Quality to the Governments of Canada and the United States. The Report recommends that both governments spend the next three years establishing a binational climate adaptation strategy, eliminating blue-green algae blooms from Lake Superior, better linking of program activities to progress reporting, and improving public engagement.

Proposed Canada Water Agency
The Canada Water Agency Discussion Paper, "Toward the Creation of a Canada Water Agency," is now available in the Resources section of the consultation site. 
The Discussion Paper presents key issues for consideration in the Government of Canada's approach to creating a Canada Water Agency. Public input can be provided on discussion issues, using an online survey tool. Input will be accepted until March 1, 2021.
Upcoming Events & Regional Notices

5-part Webinar Series
February 4 to March 4, 2021 - FOCA is proud to be a Communications Partner with the Greater Sudbury Watershed Alliance and the Vale Living with Lakes Centre on a 5-part weekly webinar series, the Troubled Waters Forum, beginning Thursday, February 4, 2021. 
Click to download the poster (PDF, 1 page) for details about the five powerhouse speakers who will address the issues. As the poster says, for now, "save the dates"! 

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) seeking public input
Over the coming months, DFO's Fish and Fish Habitat Protection Program will be seeking input from Indigenous Peoples, governments and regulators, the regulated community and conservation groups to modernize or develop new policies, frameworks, instruments and guidance to further implement the fish and fish habitat protection provisions of the modernized Fisheries Act. FOCA will continue to provide updates in future Elerts. Find out more at

More Fish News
The 2021 Ontario Fishing Regulations Summary is now available for download from

Citizen Science in Action:
The Great Backyard Bird Count is coming!
February 12-15, 2021 - FOCA recently received this invite:
Birds kept us entertained this year, and made us feel happier and less stressed. Please consider joining the Great Backyard Bird Count this February. This is a 4-day annual event that provides a snap shot of where birds are around the world. (Last year there were 6,942 species recorded and 268,674 checklists submitted by tens of thousands of volunteers!) 

What do you have to do to participate? We ask people to count birds for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count, and enter their sightings at BirdCount.orgHere is a link to the instructions & last year's results: share the information with anyone who may enjoy participating.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year Contest
Apply by March 21, 2021 -We know many of you are fantastic photographers and have taken advantage of your time at the water's edge to capture images of the local wildlife.
The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) invites you to share your captivating images of the natural world for a chance to win some amazing prizes (including a Nikon Z 6II DSLR Kit courtesy of Henry's, and more!) Share your wildlife image from your unlocked Twitter or Instagram account, and include @ROMtoronto and #ROMwpyON (or #ROMwpyJF for ages 13 to 17)
Find out more about the contest here, including the photo credits for the images from last year's winners, pictured at right.

FOCA AGM & Spring Seminar
Saturday March 6, 2021 by webinar
Recent Events & Ongoing Partnerships

Rainy-Lake of the Woods Watershed event
November 24, 2020 - FOCA participated with our partners in northwestern Ontario at the Fourth Binational Lake Association Network Event for the Rainy-Lake of the Woods Watershed with stakeholders in Canada and the US.

Boating safety never takes a holiday
Boating Traffic
November 26, 2020 - As a member of the Ontario Recreational Boating Advisory Committee, FOCA participated in a meeting to discuss the proposed modernization of Pleasure Craft Licenses and Operator Competency, to get updates from Transport Canada's Office of Boating Safety and to discuss 2020 boating safety issues with OPP's marine team. FOCA posts updates on boating issues on our Boating Overview webpage
Great Lakes Advisory Program
FOCA is pleased to be on the Advisory committee for the Canadian Environmental Law Association's Healthy Great Lakes program. The December meeting of the committee included setting priorities for the 2021 program, to further the group's goals of tackling toxins, safe drinking water for all, and more effective watershed-based management. For more about Great Lakes issues, visit FOCA's Great Lakes webpages.

Protecting what sustains us: 
Ontario Biodiversity Council (OBC)
FOCA participated in the December meeting of the OBC, including discussions about a 2020 update of the State of Biodiversity Report, the next 10 years of biodiversity goals and targets, and continued planning for the upcoming Biodiversity Summit: "Nature-based solutions for the 21st century" - a series of expert sessions coming in April and May 2021. Watch the FOCA Elert in the New Year for more details!
Phragmites (J.M. Gilbert MNRF, from

Green Shovels Collaborative
In the months ahead, FOCA will be working with partners from the Invasive Species Centre, Nature Conservancy of Canada, Ducks Unlimited Canada, and Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters on a strategic framework for coordinated management of Phragmites in Ontario. Working along with FOCA member associations, we hope to assist in the development of this important plan, to productively deal with this aggressive and detrimental invasive plant. FOCA will provide more details in early 2021.
FOCA's Bronze-level Sponsors

Canadian Canoe Museum


Dock in a Box

Apply for the FOCA Achievement Award

It has been an unusual year, which is an even better reason to find and celebrate the successes of the lake association community.

Nominate YOUR association for the next FOCA Achievement Award, which will be presented at FOCA's Annual General Meeting in March.

This Award celebrates volunteer lake association successes, and encourages everyone to share ideas and best practices. FOCA has created a form to help you identify your association's recent successes.

Download the Award Nomination Form, and apply as soon as possible:
Who supports FOCA? People like you.
FOCA is working year-round, on your behalf

FOCA encourages everyone to be a member of their local Association; in turn, we encourage those groups to be members of FOCA. 

We also appreciate the additional personal support of individuals and families who make annual contributions to FOCA. Thank you to our hundreds of Individual Supporters, Family Supporters, Friends of FOCA, and Waterfront Champions! You make FOCA's ongoing work possible.
Click the images above to link to more information, or click here.
Thank you! 
See you in the New Year.

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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