Welcome to the Labour Day Long Weekend

FOCA Elert ~ late August 2023

We have tons of news! Make sure you see all the updates -

you're at the end when you see this image banner again:

FOCA Banner people at lake

Celebrating 60 Years of FOCA

Are you coming?

Thinking about the 60th Anniversary Event, but haven't registered yet? 60 years of FOCA is worth celebrating!

Come join us for a fun afternoon on Saturday September 23rd, 2023 at the Market Hall Performing Arts Centre in Peterborough.

Register now.

Meet special guest speaker Michelle Kelly (Editor of Cottage Life Magazine and host of the Cottage Life podcast), current and past FOCA Board Directors and Staff, and fellow lake associations from across Ontario for music, art, mingling, memories, and more.

Come for the full experience including a cocktail reception with the Board of Directors, or arrive just in time for stories and to cast your bids for the amazing silent auction items. (We're adding more every week)

Space - particularly for the cocktail reception - is limited, so register today: https://foca.on.ca/60-years/#event

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

Enjoy your cottage with reliable and fast internet

Stay connected at the cottage with powerful WiFi coverage and reliable Ignite Internet, powered by wireless home internet technology.

Call us at 1-866-256-2138 for personalized assistance (press "1") to check availability at your address. Or, visit the Rogers booth at an upcoming cottage country show:

> Fergus Fall Fair (Sept. 15-17)

> International Plowing Match Expo (Sept.19-23)

> Huntsville Fall Fair (Sept. 22-24)

See you there!

FOCA Champions Safe & Affordable Rural Living

FOCA Cottage Succession Seminars

Register now for one of our remaining 2023 "Cottage Succession Planning A to Z" Seminars with estate lawyer Peter Lillico, helping families plan for the intergenerational transfer of the cottage!

Remember to indicate your FOCA affiliation when you register to be confirmed for an event, as FOCA members attend for FREE (non-members can request to register for $10 each). Click the dates for upcoming webinars:

Registrants will receive a copy of the slides, but NOT a recording, so please plan to attend during the webinar times: 7:00 to 8:30pm. Bring your questions for the lawyer!

Rural Crime Prevention

FOCA learned that someone was placing red tags like the ones in the image, on cottages in the Parry Sound area earlier this month. These tags are remnants of a 1990s initiative called “Cottage Watch” that is no longer an active program, and the motives for posting them now are unknown to FOCA or the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) who are both named on the tags.

We remind waterfront owners to be on the lookout for your neighbours’ properties, and to report any suspicious activity to the OPP. Find tips about preventing rural crime, cottage closing, and links to your local OPP detachment here: https://foca.on.ca/police-crime/


In last month’s Elert, we talked about the FireSmart Home Ignition Zone (PDF, 4 pages), the "FireSmart Begins at Home" App, and other great FireSmart resources for homeowners.

Ready to take the next step in your FireSmart journey? Consider the FireSmart 101 training program. This free 1-hour course is an excellent introduction to more FireSmart concepts, including insights on how to get more folks involved in the FireSmart program in your local area. Sign in with your email address so you can complete the learning in stages.

If you care about keeping your community safe from wildland fire, get in touch with our partners at AFFES.Mitigation@ontario.ca and they can help to further guide your FireSmart journey. 

webinar recap: Avoid Boating Tragedy

August 23, 2023 - FOCA's partners at Safe Quiet Lakes (SQL) hosted a webinar prompted by the increase in boating fatalities and accidents in recent years, including special guest OPP Sgt. Dave Moffatt who presented chilling statistics including:

  • 86.7% of all fatalities in the past 13 years were not wearing lifejackets
  • in the past 8 years, 39.7% of fatalities occurred not from the capsizing of a boat, but from a fall overboard
  • 86.6% of fatalities occurred in vessels 6 metres or less in length!

Click to watch the event recording online.

FOCA's Gold Level Sponsors

sponsors support our work, please support them

FOCA Advocates for Responsive Government

Floating Container Homes

Efforts continue on multiple fronts to limit floating container homes on Ontario waterways, led by the "Float Homes Not Vessels" Coalition that includes FOCA members from the Georgian Bay Association and the Gloucester Pool Cottagers Association, who are being directly impacted by these structures. The coalition has produced an information guide for "What to do if you see a Floating Home" (download PDF, 6 pages). Parks Canada has been asked by the Coalition to regulate these structures on the federally-managed Trent Severn Waterway (TSW) and Rideau Canal, following the recent provincial announcement that banned their overnight stays on Ontario waterways. Transport Canada is also being pursued, to stop classifying these structures as "vessels". We'll continue to post updates here: https://foca.on.ca/floating-accommodations/

Fish & Fish Habitat Protection

Fisheries and Oceans Canada has posted interim "Codes of Practice" describing your obligations under the Fisheries Act during the repair, maintenance and construction of docks, moorings and boathouses. These draft codes are posted for public comment on Talk Fish Habitat until November 30, 2023. Visit our webpage: https://foca.on.ca/docks-boathouses/ for further information and related links.

(image above: dead fish in the Ausable River near the Port Franks Beach and Marina, as posted in a CBC News article noting the image source as Lambton Shores Endangered Fish Adventure/Facebook)

Fines for Shoreline Alterations

FOCA was pleased to see local regulations being upheld, with the announcement earlier this month of a large fine ($45,000) levied against a property owner who altered the Georgian Bay shoreline in six areas without a permit. Read news coverage in the Parry Sound North Star.

Looking for resources to bring to your own municipal council to encourage them to support regulations that protect shorelines? Visit FOCA's Land Use Planning webpage for publications created with our partners on the Watersheds Canada "Planning for our Shorelands" steering committee, including "Environmental Net Gain" - a regulatory guide with municipal by-law, policy and Official Plan examples worth emulating: https://foca.on.ca/land-use-planning/#PFOS

Seasonal Home Study Released

The 2023 Muskoka Second Home Study has been released by the District of Muskoka. Some highlights of this year's release:

  • half of the seasonal population is over age 55
  • 96.7% of second homes in Muskoka are located on waterfront properties
  • 1 in 10 survey respondents plan to eventually live permanently at their current seasonal home, with an average of 6 years until their planned move
  • 11% of second homes are rented in Muskoka, an increase from 7.3% in 2017.

Download a copy of the study here (PDF, 40 pages). Learn more about the economic impacts of waterfront property owners across the province on FOCA's webpage: https://foca.on.ca/economic-wpo/

FOCA Promotes Healthy Lands, Lakes & Rivers


The past couple of weeks have kept our volunteers busy, sampling water at many dozens of sites across the province for the IsampleON program (Invasive Species Awareness and Monitoring Program for Lakes Education Ontario). Thank you volunteers - keep the photos coming!

The samples have started returning to FOCA, and we look forward to the eDNA results, as part of our ongoing work looking for early indicators of invasive species in areas with high boat traffic in the eastern and central portions of Ecoregion 5E. Learn more: https://foca.on.ca/isampleon/

Pictured (clockwise, from top left above): sampling at a boat launch on Sunny Lake in Muskoka; sampling on Pigeon Lake in the Kawarthas; the first sample to arrive back at the FOCA office last week; sampling on Trout Lake near Sudbury

Help Protect Loons

How can you help loons? Here are some ways:

  • watch your wake near wetlands and shorelines
  • steer clear of nesting sites
  • leave no fishing line behind
  • fish with lead-free tackle
  • maintain natural shorelines
  • dispose of waste properly
  • reduce your climate impact to protect loon habitat.

Download & share an information sheet (PDF, 2 pages) from the Loon and Diver Stewardship Working Group! (source of the image at the side)

Green Shovels - Invasive Phragmites

Our members are actively working on many local projects to manage invasive Phragmites across the province. Thank you to all our dedicated members involved in fighting the spread! Keep sending us pictures of your great community efforts. (Pictured below: volunteers at Eagle Lake in Parry Sound cutting invasive Phragmites growing in or near the lake.)

Phragmites is a very tall and fast-growing perennial grass now covering nearly 17,000 hectares of Ontario shoreline, wetlands and roadsides. It creates ecological dead-zones and impacts at-risk species. Invasive Phragmites has been called Canada’s worst invasive species, and management and eradication of invasive Phragmites has become an increasing cost for municipalities across Ontario. Learn more about the plant and the Green Shovels Collaborative that is funding these management projects: https://foca.on.ca/phragmites.

Learn how to ID Grass Carp

We need you as part of our early detection system to protect the Great Lakes! Learn how to identify invasive Grass Carp compared to common look-alikes. Get information, including a link to a webinar with identification tips, here: https://foca.on.ca/carps/.

Think you may have spotted an invasive Grass Carp? Report sightings in Canadian waters by calling Ontario’s Invading Species Hotline: 1-800-563-7711, or online using EDDMapS: https://www.eddmaps.org/ (image: Asian Carp Canada)

Understanding TSW Water Levels

The Coalition for Equitable Water Flow (CEWF) is a FOCA-member volunteer organization that was formed in 2006 to represent the interests of those who own residential shoreline property on 55 lakes that feed into the Trent Canal, the water levels of which are controlled by the Trent Severn Waterway (TSW). CEWF has released two short videos to answer questions about high and low water levels through the Trent Watershed: how it works, where the water comes from and goes to, and who manages the levels through the seasons. Check them out:

Clean + Drain + Dry your Boat

Heading out with the motor boat, kayak, PWC or canoe to a new lake or river this long weekend? You are a critical part of the plan to prevent the spread of invasive hitchhikers in Ontario! Watercraft parts and equipment are a potential transmission source for unwanted aquatic invasive species to move from one place to another, and some of them are very small (like spiny water flea or zebra mussel larvae). Don't forget to check your trailer and gear as well. Learn more, and then spread the word: https://foca.on.ca/invasive-species/

(image: Ontario Federation of Anglers & Hunters)

FOCA's Silver Level Sponsors

sponsors support our work, please support them

Partner Updates & Regional Notices

event recap: Wake Impacts Meeting

August 22, 2023 - FOCA met with colleagues from across the Ontario waterfront community in Port Carling for a discussion coordinated by our partners at Safe Quiet Lakes earlier this month to discuss research about boat wake impacts, consider regulatory examples in other jurisdictions, and discuss what can be done to develop practical solutions. FOCA posts related information here: https://foca.on.ca/boating/#video

event recap: Watershed Discovery Day

August 12, 2023 - FOCA participated in this stewardship event organized by the Friends of the Tay Watershed.Thank you to our Board Member, Michael Peterson, for representing FOCA at the event, and sharing our waterfront resources. Access them online here: https://foca.on.ca/shorelines-stewardship/

upcoming webinar: Climate Impacts in the Rainy ~ Lake of the Woods Basin

September 11, 2023 - register to participate in a webinar by the Lake of the Woods Water Sustainability Foundation (LOWWSF) as part of their "Ask an Expert" series, for a session on how climate change is impacting the watershed with experts from the IISD Experimental Lakes Area, Queens University and the University of Minnesota. Click here to register.

Rideau Valley Stewardship Grants

Making upgrades to your rural property in Rideau Valley? There’s a grant for that! Book a site visit with the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority (RVCA) stewardship team to take advantage of generous subsidies for tree planting, shoreline naturalization, well and septic upgrades, erosion control and much more. Depending on your location and project, up to 90% of your costs could be covered. For tree planting contact Ian at RVCA. For shoreline naturalization contact Brandon at RVCA. For clean water projects on rural properties email rcwp@rvca.ca. Learn more here: https://www.rvca.ca/stewardship-grants (source of the images at the side).

FOCA's Bronze level sponsors
Dock in a Box

sponsors support our work, please support them

FOCA Serves Lake & Road Associations

Ontario Lake Stewards Magazine

Get a digital copy of the 2023 edition of FOCA's annual Lake Stewards publication and enjoy some long weekend reading about:

  • fire and flood safety for your property
  • algae blooms
  • ice on & ice off data: how you can help
  • common road association liability questions answered
  • boat cleaning stations and their role to prevent the spread of invasive species
  • engagement ideas for associations

and more! Download it now (PDF, 32 pages)

Participating in Local AGMs

FOCA has been busy and on the road for much of the summer, participating in Annual General Meetings (AGMs) of our member associations, as well as regional events. It's a joy to be back in-person for these gatherings.

Since our last Elert, FOCA attended meetings of the Lake WahWahKesh Conservation Association (thank you to our Board President, Ian Crawford for representing FOCA at that event), the Gooseneck Lake Property Owners Association, and the Birchcliff Property Owners Association (image above), as well as several regional get-togethers. Thank you for inviting us to participate in your local meetings!

Even if FOCA can't make it to your local meeting in person, we can provide you with a short script and slides so you can explain to your fellow members in 5 minutes the value of your association's annual membership in FOCA, and the work we do year-round on your behalf. Contact us for details.

Apply Now for the 2023 FOCA Achievement Award!

We've been reading your Association newsletters and following your social media posts, and we KNOW you've been busy doing great things this year. Be sure to apply on behalf of your Association for the 2023 FOCA Achievement Award. Nominations can be submitted now! The award recipient will be announced in the early new year, with the award presentation at the next FOCA Annual General Meeting (save the date: Saturday March 2, 2024 in Toronto and by webinar). For inspiring stories of past recipients, the nomination form, and more information, visit our webpage: https://foca.on.ca/award

Celebrating 60 Years of FOCA

There are many ways YOU can contribute to FOCA's 60th anniversary celebrations:

  1. submit pictures to our archival photo project
  2. register to join us for our 60th anniversary celebration event on Saturday, September 23rd in Peterborough, Ontario
  3. make a donation today to support the future of FOCA's work on behalf of waterfront Ontario
  4. 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. Volunteers like you make this organization strong.

Here's another great photograph from Ontario's cottage country past:

Janet Bradley of Kushog Lake sent us so many gems, we had a hard time deciding which one to share with you today. This was the pick, since we're on the cusp of September and it's dated "SEP 60" at the top! These two - "Peter and Carolyn" - look like a going concern; we just hope they weren't really going anywhere. Those rocks at the top seem to confirm this was a piece of "at the dock" photographic whimsy.

Keep those great pictures coming - they make our day. Use the link to upload yours and tell us all about it!

Final Thoughts

Happy Labour Day Long Weekend!

We hope you get to spend the holiday weekend

with the people you love, in the place you love best.


FOCA Office Hours:

Please note the FOCA office will be closed

Monday, September 4th, 2023 for the statutory holiday.

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