FOCA Elert ~ November 2023

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Make sure you see all the updates! You're at the end when you see this FOCA banner again:

Top News: FOCA Rebranding & We're Hiring!

We're very pleased to roll out FOCA's new branding which you'll see in our refreshed logo and colour scheme.

As revealed by our Board President at the recent FOCA Fall Seminar for Associations, this branding represents important elements at the core of our organization: we are the people who live on the shorelines of the waters in Ontario, and FOCA works to protect naturalized shorelines and healthy waters within a safe and thriving environment.

If you are a Member Association that posts a link to FOCA on your digital platforms, or includes "proud member of FOCA" wording in your print newsletters or e-news, please email us for updated copies of the logo for your use.

FOCA is Hiring

After 20 years at the helm of FOCA, Terry Rees has announced he will be stepping down at the end of March 2024 to pursue other interests. As the leader of one of the largest membership associations in the Province, Terry has been committed to building a strong community, and to working collaboratively with a broad range of partners to address the many complex challenges facing Ontario’s rural communities and our freshwater environments. Please join us in thanking Terry for all his work on behalf of waterfront Ontario.

FOCA is hiring for his successor! We’re looking for a leader with a commitment to organizational excellence in support of our goals of environmental and financial sustainability in our communities. Find out more: and apply by Dec. 8, 2023.

FOCA's Platinum Level Sponsor

our partners in risk management & administrators of

the FOCA Association Insurance Program and CottageFirst

sponsors support our work, please support them

Cade's Corner

Woodstove Safety

It's official: winter is really coming, and many of us are already turning to the cozy warmth of a woodstove to keep the chill at bay. While woodstoves bring comfort and ambiance, we also need to consider safety to ensure they remain a pleasure, and not a hazard. Consult this overview (PDF, 1 page) for tips about installation, cleaning, fuel choices, spacing and other keys to safe woodstove operation including proper disposal of wood ash. Stay warm, and stay safe!

Event Recap

FOCA Fall Seminar for Associations

November 4, 2023 by webinar - thank you for joining us at "Understanding the Changing State of our Lakes" with our feature speaker Dr. John Smol, and a range of environmental updates from FOCA and our colleagues.

Members: use your web login to access the detailed post-event summary including links to all the slides shown. Please share this material with your fellow members!

Don't have, or can't recall your login? Contact us for assistance.

FOCA Champions Safe & Affordable Rural Living

Underused Housing Tax (UHT) Updates

As part of the federal government’s Fall Economic Statement released last week, most Canadian corporations, partnerships, and trusts have become “excluded owners” for UHT purposes, and no longer need to file the tax form annually; however, American owners of Canadian seasonal properties are still implicated in the filing requirements.

Additionally, on October 31st, the UHT filing deadline for the 2022 calendar year was extended to April 30, 2024. (Note that filing for calendar 2023 will also be due on that date.) Read more on our webpage:

Short-Term Rental (STR)

Developments around STR keep coming, fast and furiously! Since our last Elert, the Federal Government announced it will no longer allow STR owners in areas that already restrict STR to claim their rental expenses against the income they make.

Also, the cities of Owen Sound, Greater Sudbury, and Thunder Bay are moving forward with various plans to start managing STR in their jurisdictions, while the municipalities of Whitestone and Collingwood are in the process of changing their approaches.

Finally, the Township of Minden Hills recently ruled that a STR owner is financially responsible for a fine issued to a renter for breaking the recreational fire ban. Catch up on all the updates on our webpage:

MPAC Notices Mailed

November 14, 2023 – the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) has begun mailing more than 713,000 Property Assessment Notices to property owners across Ontario. If you recently moved, changed the school board that your taxes support, or made changes to your property, a notice is on the way. Learn more in this media release from MPAC.

Members should also stay tuned for a comprehensive update from MPAC at FOCA's AGM & Spring Seminar on Saturday, March 2, 2024 - save the date! And watch the Elert for registration details for the event (in-person and by webinar) in the new year.

The Fire Year That Was...

2023 was an unprecedented year in Canada for fire and smoke impacts, with more than 18 million hectares of forest burned. For a recap of the season, and its impacts on firefighting resources, see a Calgary Herald article (source of the graph at the side) and other related news items on our webpage:

FOCA's Gold Level Sponsors

sponsors support our work, please support them

FOCA Advocates for Responsive Government

FOCA at Queen's Park

November 22, 2023 - FOCA participated in a gathering at Queen's Park organized by our partners at Good Roads (who represent municipal members across the province and are dedicated to improving municipal roads and associated infrastructure). The event presented an opportunity for FOCA to remind Ministers and policy makers of the economic impact of waterfront property owners and to expand lines of communication among colleagues, on behalf of our many member Associations that have private roads to manage.

FOCA reminds our Associations to utilize the members-only resources posted to our Road Issues webpage, including benchmark data about fellow road groups, getting everyone to pay their fair share, and important liability and insurance considerations for Associations, among other tips and best practices.

Transport Canada - Have Your Say

Property owners and our municipal partners are reminded to exercise their right to participate in the Transport Canada (TC) public comment periods that are currently open until December 11, 2023 on each of the following proposals:

Get background and additional information on FOCA's webpage:

Licence of Occupation Development

On November 2, 2023 the Township of Algonquin Highlands in Haliburton passed a License of Occupation Policy (By-Law 2023-98) which applies where privately owned infrastructure (such as a dock) is located on a Township-owned shore road allowance separated by a municipally maintained road from the adjacent residence. The by-law will come into effect on Jan. 1, 2024.

FOCA Promotes Healthy Lands, Lakes & Rivers

Ice On/Ice Off Tracking

Does anyone at your waterbody track the ice on and ice off dates, year-over-year? If not, you should! Dr. Nolan Pearce, a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Trent University Department of Biology, has a call-to-action for you:

"FOCA stewards: start recording these types of ice observations and upload them to open-access citizen science repositories, like NatureWatch's "IceWatch".

The value of long-term ice data is immeasurable for global change research, and while the best time to start collecting these data was 50 years ago, the next best time is now. Scientists can use your ground-truthed records to evaluate changes in ice thickness and composition (black and white ice) as well as the timing of when lakes freeze and thaw. You may also help your local scientist (me!) better understand winter lake processes occurring under the ice. If you happen to find yourself at the lake this winter, consider becoming a citizen scientist and document your observations."

Learn more about ice changes, ice safety, bubblers, and more on FOCA's webpage:

Asian Carps

Check out the images of fish heads at the side: would you be able to identify an Asian carp if you saw one in Canadian waters? Silver, Black, Bighead and Grass Carp are all potential invaders. We need your eyes as part of the early detection system to protect Great Lakes waterways! Here are the answers: 

#1 Black Carp 

#2 Grass Carp 

#3 Bighead Carp 

#4 Silver Carp

Still “confused with carp”? Learn more about these species, similar “look a likes” and how to tell them apart: ttps:// (images: Invasive Carp Regional Coordinating Committee)

Winter Salt Impacts

How much salt is too much? What are the water quality impacts of using too much salt? How can individuals help with the "salty situation"? Get answers to these and more questions from Conservation Ontario's "Salt Responsibly" story map, accessible from a link on FOCA's webpage:

FOCA's Silver Level Sponsors

sponsors support our work, please support them

Partner Updates & Regional Notices

partner webinars: Drinking Water Wise

Catch up on recent webinar recordings, and register for upcoming sessions on this webpage. Topics include Harmful Algal Blooms & Drinking Water, Well Care, Septic Systems 101, Realty and Rural Source Water and more! This webinar series is presented by our partners at Trent Conservation Coalition Source Water Protection, Cataraqui Source Water Protection and Quinte Conservation Source Water Protection.

partner event: Sediment and Erosion Control Symposium

December 7, 2023 - Kawartha Conservation invites regional residents to register to attend a free community event in Fenelon Falls (Kawartha Lakes), intended for people undertaking construction activities around water, to learn more about erosion and sediment control practices. There will be several presentations and exhibits from industry professionals.

Lake Superior Fish Consumption Advisories

Consult information posted by the Lakehead Region Conservation Authority regarding contaminant levels in fish due to Chemicals of Mutual Concern to help consumers make informed decisions to minimize exposure to toxins. Links are here:

Annual Christmas Bird Count

Birds Canada invites you to join the 124th annual Christmas Bird Count from December 14, 2023 to January 5, 2024 alongside more than 2000 other folks across the Western Hemisphere. You'll be helping to form one of the world's largest sets of wildlife survey data. It's free, and anyone can join! Find out more:

Progress Report on Great Lakes Water Quality

The International Joint Commission's (IJC) 2023 Third Triennial Assessment of Progress on Great Lakes Water Quality is a review of federal government progress under the Canada-US Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement toward healthier Great Lakes. Access the full report (80 pages) as well as a summary of the top 3 recommendations, from links in the "Latest News" section of our webpage:

partner event recap: Safe Quiet Lakes Stakeholder Meeting

November 22, 2023 by webinar - FOCA was pleased to participate in the annual Stakeholder Meeting of our partners at Safe Quiet Lakes. There were presentations by Dr. Chris Houser of the University of Waterloo on recreational boat wakes, the "Float Homes not Vessels Coalition", the Decibel Coalition, the OPP Marine Program, Canadian Safe Boating Council, and the Office of Boating Safety of Transport Canada about current and upcoming boating safety regulation public comment periods.

event recap: Fall Cottage Life Show

November 10-12, 2023 - FOCA had a great time at the annual Fall Cottage Life Show. Thank you to our Board volunteers, and to everyone who stopped by the booth to say hello and test our knowledge with their questions about everything from rural roads, beavers, septic systems, liability, Asian carps, naturalized shorelines, and many more topics. Got cottage country questions of your own? FOCA has answers!

Cottage Succession

Our colleague Peter Lillico was also at the Fall Cottage Life Show, speaking on the main stage about some of the pitfalls along the family succession pathway. Our own FOCA Cottage Succession Seminar series is all wrapped up for 2023, but we'll be back at with Peter in 2024! Watch the Elert for event dates and details in the new year. In the meantime, you can purchase access to digital recordings of some of Peter's FOCA talks, to review with your family in the off season:

event recap: Lake Links

October 21, 2023 - FOCA was pleased to join our members and partners in eastern Ontario for the annual Lake Links Workshop in Perth. We are a proud sponsor of this annual gathering. This year's theme was "Hooked on Habitat: Sustainable Fisheries for the Future." Access the slides from the day's presentations here.

FOCA Serves Lake & Road Associations

New Portal for Ontario Government Services

November 2023 – an important update from Service Ontario for all Ontario Incorporated Associations: "ONe-Key" is no longer available for access to your secure government services, and you will need to migrate your ONe-Key over to a "My Ontario Account". Get details and a link to manage the migration, from our Association Governance & Best Practices webpage:

Finding Association Volunteers

Looking for new Board Members for your Association, or volunteers for a one-time project or annual event? Consider posting the job on Charity Village. First, create a free account as a nonprofit "Employer", then "Post a Job" and choose "Volunteer" as the category. (Tip: search "Board volunteer" or other terms to see existing job postings by others, for ideas about what amount of information a posting should have.) We hope you find your dream candidate!

A Call for FOCA Volunteers

While we're speaking of association volunteers, we can't help mentioning that FOCA is always pleased to hear from potential volunteers for our Board and Committees. We are currently seeking eligible candidates (members of FOCA Member Associations in good standing) with background in law, liability, corporate governance, or fundraising. Email for more information about what's involved, and visit the Our Team webpage to learn more about the current Board and staff.

Association Member Benefits

Membership in FOCA brings your Association many benefits! Here's one that our member groups tell us they highly value:

The FOCA Association Insurance Program is available to all our Member Associations at a discount, and participation in this program includes access to a free Legal Helpline for your Association. The insurance is underwritten by Aviva Canada, and the program is administered exclusively by Cade Associates Insurance Brokers. Coverage options are available for lake or road associations, land ownership associations or trusts. Call 416-234-9980 or visit for details.

Contact the FOCA office for the Legal Helpline access information.

What fellow members are saying:

"Thank you for your suggestion of using the legal helpline.

The lawyer I spoke with was very thorough, clearly indicated our options, and helped with determining a path forward for the association."

~David P.


Get more information about all your FOCA member benefits on our website:

FOCA's Bronze Sponsors

Dock in a Box

sponsors support our work - please support them

Celebrating 60 Years of FOCA

FOCA was formed 60 years ago in 1963. There are many ways YOU can contribute to FOCA's 60th anniversary celebrations:

> submit pictures to our archival photo project: review other images we've featured in Elerts this year, then use the link to upload your own and tell us all about it!

> make a donation today to support the future of FOCA's work on behalf of waterfront Ontario

> PSSST! Pass it on. Be part of our campaign to refer a friend or an association to become a new FOCA Member, and you could win a prize this year.

Thank you for your ongoing support. People like you make this organization strong.

Speaking of our cottage country photo challenge, here's another great submission:

Image of Round Lake (Renfrew) winter bonfire by Grahame Plaunt, submitted by Katherine Plaunt.

Keep those great pictures coming - they make our day.

Final Thoughts

Be a "Cottage Climate Champ"

One of the many great speakers we enjoyed on the Main Stage at the 2023 Fall Cottage Life Show was our friend Leslie Garrett, with "Stories of Cottage Climate Champs". Leslie is a journalist and the Editorial Director of Bluedot, Inc.

Her main message: we don't have to feel despair about climate news when there are lots of practical and everyday things each of us can do to take action at home and in our communities. One example is pictured in the image at the side, shown by Leslie during the talk: turning an old canoe into a pollinator garden to support bees! Another important thing we can do as individuals is to talk about where we see the impacts of our changing climate, to bring others into the conversation. Check out, and for those living in the T-Dot, the new Toronto-focused BlueDot website has just launched. Enjoy the inspiration!

FOCA is the Federation of Ontario Cottagers' Associations, the voice of the waterfront for the past 60 years. Find out more about YOUR ROLE, today. | 705-749-3622 |

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