FOCA Elert ~ January 2024

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

Upcoming FOCA Event

you're invited: FOCA AGM & Spring Seminar

Saturday, March 2, 2024 from 9am to 3pm (AGM takes place at 10am) at the Bayview Golf & Country Club in Thornhill and by Zoom webinar.

Register now to join us for the 2024 FOCA Annual General Meeting (AGM) & Spring Seminar for Associations, titled "Water Matters."

Member Association representatives will receive Official Notice of the meeting, including business to be conducted, by February 1, 2024 under separate email cover. In-person space is limited and is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Get an overview about the topics plus registration links, here:

Watch a quick overview about the AGM event and other January updates, in this 2 minute video from Terry Rees, FOCA's Executive Director:

FOCA's Platinum Level Sponsor

our partners in risk management & administrators of

the FOCA Association Insurance Program and CottageFirst

which are valuable parts of your overall FOCA member benefits!

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Cade's Corner

Bubbler Safety

In the winter, some waterfront owners install bubblers - a type of de-icing system - intended to prevent the build-up of ice at or around waterfront structures like docks and boathouses. However, before you use a bubbler, read this information sheet (download PDF, 1 page) about important safety and legal implications. It is also important to check with your local municipality, as some Municipalities have begun to implement bylaws that impact bubbler use. Be safe and enjoy the winter!

FOCA Champions Safe & Affordable Rural Living

Great Lakes Ice Cover & Safety

According to historical data about Great Lakes ice cover, by January 28th, an average of 28% of the Great Lakes' surface is usually covered with ice; this year, we're at only 11% coverage so far. Follow the tracking here.

On January 15th, CTV Northern Ontario reported a truck went through the ice while clearing a path to an ice fishing hut. The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) remind snowmobilers that no ice can be considered 100% safe to ride on. This year's late mild winter only increases the danger. Get important tips about ice safety from FOCA's webpage:

High Water Warnings & Watches

Ontario’s Surface Water Monitoring Centre reported this past weekend that water levels are currently elevated across much of Southern Ontario, with flows increasing but still within seasonal range at present. However, forecast rain and above freezing daytime temperatures are expected to reduce the snowpack and produce considerable runoff, elevating water levels further. Consult local and provincial messages, and the Ontario flood map (source of the image at the side), from links on our webpage:

Wildfire Community Preparedness Funding - Apply Now

Your association can apply for a $500 award to help pay for tools, brush disposal, print materials, or even a BBQ related to holding a Wildfire Community Preparedness Day any time between May and October 2024. Get details from FireSmart Canada (source of the image used) and apply by January 31st!

FOCA Survey - we need your input!

Please take 5 minutes to participate in FOCA's latest survey to help us understand the current level of knowledge about water quality in Ontario, what affects it, and how to be a good "steward" of water.

The survey is open until February 25, 2024:

Please share the survey link widely with your contacts by email on on social media, so we can receive a range of feedback!

More Upcoming FOCA Events

upcoming event: "Targeting Tax" - a FOCA Cottage Succession Seminar

Tuesday, February 13, 2024 from 7-8:30pm by Zoom webinar. Register to join FOCA and estate lawyer Peter Lillico for a “deep dive” into Targeting Tax, part of our annual Cottage Succession Seminar series. In this session, learn how and when capital gains tax applies; techniques to avoid, reduce or defer tax; and planning approaches to fund it. MEMBERS register for free here; remember to tell us your FOCA affiliation when you register!

Not a member, but still interested in attending? Please pay the $30 non-member fee per registrant, or become a Friend of FOCA first (our paid annual supporter category) to receive free access to all the FOCA Cottage Succession events over the coming year, plus additional supporter benefits including a discount on registration to FOCA's annual Spring and Fall Seminars, and access to the CottageFirst group insurance program.

FOCA's Gold Level Sponsors

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FOCA Advocates for Responsive Government


January 21-23, 2024 - On behalf of our members in more than 100 rural municipalities, FOCA participated again this year in the Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) annual conference with municipal partners and politicians. We liaised with invasive species partners to spread the word about preventing the spread! (pictured L to R: FOCA's Terry Rees, Sarah Rang of the Invasive Species Centre, and Graydon Smith, the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry. Below: Premier Ford spoke to the conference attendees.)

Management of Aggregates: Significant Concerns

In early January 2024, Ontario’s Auditor General (AG) released a report that found the aggregate industry, while essential to Ontario, has poor oversight from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, and is rarely charged despite high levels of non-compliance with permits and regularly failing to pay the required annual fees. The AG concluded that the Ministry does not have effective systems and processes in place to oversee aggregate development and operations in a manner that minimizes adverse impacts on the environment. Read the Report (download PDF, 2 pages).

First Nations object to Virtual Mining Claims

FOCA has been involved in improvements to mining permits for many years, understanding that industrial enterprises need to consider pre-existing and other land uses and parties. Now, First Nations are objecting to the lack of consultation related to virtual (online) mineral staking. See more, and link to related news coverage, under "Recent Mining News" on our webpage:

Transport Canada ON-RBAC Updates

On behalf of our members who own hundreds of thousands of boats, FOCA sits on the Transport Canada Ontario Recreational Boating Advisory Committee (ON-RBAC). On January 23, 2024, boating partners met for a series of updates in Toronto. In additional to 2023 boating season safety statistics from the Ontario Provincial Policy Marine Coordinator (who will also present this material to FOCA members at our Spring Seminar on March 2nd), we heard about regulatory updates for vessel restrictions, noise emissions, and an expected public consultation period this Spring about proposed mandatory wear of PFDs. Stay up to date with postings on our webpage:

Rental & Shoreline Allowances Converge!

According to a late-November Haliburton County council meeting, short-term rental owners in the County could be prevented from operating if their cottages are built on shoreline road allowances, according to a proposed short-term rental bylaw.

Also, the Township of Muskoka Lakes will hold a public session in Port Carling in mid-February, about their new proposed STR licencing plan. Read all the news from the past few months, plus earlier developments in other municipalities, from links on FOCA's webpage:

Updates on Local Development Concerns

FOCA knows the value of sharing stories of community groups raising their political voices to advocate for responsible land use planning and development. Here are some updates:

(1) The Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) issued a decision in November 2023 about a planned development in the Bracebridge area, ruling that more environmental impact studies are needed before construction can begin, and there will be an increased buffer area to protect nearby wetlands.


(2) FOCA's member group - the Clearwater Lake Property Owners Association - and other local stakeholders opposed development of an energy storage facility for reasons of public safety and suitability of the site. At a late November Gravenhurst planning meeting, it was announced the developer has withdrawn its proposal as a result of public consultation and further site assessment.

Finally, an Ontario man who conducted road work without a permit was fined $48,000 for damaging turtle habitat north of Parry Sound.


Read about these stories (as reported by CTV News and our colleagues at Cottage Life source of the wetland photo by Andy Zeltkalns, above) from links in the "Latest News" section of FOCA's webpage:

FOCA Promotes Healthy Lands, Lakes & Rivers

Invasive Species

In December 2023, Ontario added 10 new species to the Provincial invasive species registry including the aquatic plant, Eurasian Water-Milfoil. Get links to this news item, and other invasive species information, on FOCA's webpage:

(image from

Lake Partner Program

Water saltiness (Chloride) is one parameter measured annually since 2015 in the Lake Partner Program (LPP) of community monitoring of hundreds of inland lakes across Ontario. FOCA has finally received the delayed 2022 LPP datasets, released by the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks. Access all the data from download links on our webpage:

Salt Impacts

Salt is accumulating in the environment and poses an emerging threat, both to ecosystems and human health. Read a recent CBC News article about the critical importance of reducing road salt use, and salt impacts on oxygen depletion in Ontario lakes. Find the link to the November news story under the "Latest News" banner on our webpage:

(image: Dr. Shelley Arnott, from a 2020 presentation to FOCA members)

Great Lakes Microplastics Risk

Recent study analysis by the Rochman Lab at the University of Toronto and the IISD Experimental Lakes Area showed that "nearly 90 per cent of the water samples collected from the Great Lakes basin contain microplastic concentrations surpassing the lowest risk threshold" while about 20% exceed the highest risk threshold. Read the December 2023 article, "It's About Time," as published by Water Canada (source of the image), from a link on FOCA's webpage:

2024 Ontario Fishing Regulations 

The annual update has been released to the rules and regulations for recreational fishing in Ontario. It contains information about recreational fishing licences, open seasons and catch limits, as well as up-to-date fishing regulations for each fishing zone that became effective January 1, 2024. Click here to download the 2024 Guide (NOTE: PDF, 128 pages!)

Partner Updates & Regional Notices

Healthy Habitats Microgrants Program for Youth

Applicants between the ages of 15 and 30 at the time of application can access up to $5000 for a project that grows your skills and to make an impact in your community. Find out more here:


High Speed Internet - Eastern Ontario Announcement

In December 2023, FOCA's partners at the Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN), the governments of Canada and Ontario, and Rogers jointly announced that Rogers 5G mobile services will be available in new areas, thanks to building 18 new telecommunications sites and upgrading seven existing sites in multiple Ontario Counties. Read the news, and find out more about rural internet availability on FOCA's webpage:

partner event: Rainy-Lake of the Woods Watershed Forum

March 6-7, 2024 in International Falls, Minnesota – registration is now open for this annual professional symposium for research and resource managers, policy makers, and the public interested in the Rainy-Lake of the Woods Watershed. Get program details & register here.

partner event: Grass Carp Information Session - Bay of Quinte

Wednesday, February 28, 2024 from 6-9pm (Belleville & District Fish & Game Club) - If you have questions about identifying Grass Carp, or want to learn about the capture of a Grass Carp in the Bay of Quinte in 2023 (a fertile female weighing over 20 kg!), join FOCA's partners from Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Invasive Species Centre, Invasive Species Awareness, and the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters for an evening of presentations, displays and refreshments. Register here.

partner notice: Peterborough Public Health

Earlier this month, Peterborough Public Health (PPH) announced that they will no longer deliver septic system permitting and inspection services, which will become the responsibility of the municipalities in Peterborough City and County by November 18, 2024, stating: “PPH has provided these building inspection services related to on-site sewage systems for over 40 years, but we are now only one of 11 public health units offering this service." Link to the PPH update, and get homeowner resources about septic systems, from FOCA's webpage:

upcoming: Spring Cottage Life Show

March 21-24, 2024 - FOCA has your discount for the Spring Show at the International Centre. Use our code FOCA for $3 off general admission tickets. Use this link to purchase your tickets at our discounted rate, and we'll see you at the show!

FOCA Serves Lake & Road Associations

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:

Final Thoughts

Psssst! Pass it on...

Throughout 2023, FOCA asked you - our ambassadors - to tell a friend about our work, as part of a fundraising campaign to "pass it on"!

Everyone who referred a new "Friend of FOCA" (our recurring annual supporters) or a new Lake or Road Association in 2023 was entered into a draw to win a prize. And the winner is... Brian McLeod of Parry Sound. Congratulations, and enjoy your $50 Home Hardware gift card!

Please keep spreading the word about FOCA's work, and ways to support it. We are grateful for your support of our ongoing advocacy, education, and communications efforts on behalf of waterfront Ontario.

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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