Welcome to the Long Weekend!
FOCA Elert ~ May 2023
We have tonnes of news! Make sure you see all the updates -
you're at the end when you see this image again.
Long Weekend Boating Safety & Updates
Proposed Changes to Vessel Licenses
There are proposed changes for licensing a pleasure craft within the Small Vessel Regulations. A pleasure craft licence is issued by Transport Canada (TC) and contains a unique licence number used to identify a vessel. Notable proposed changes are a new ($24) charge to issue the license, which will now be valid for 5 years. Public input is invited by TC until July 12, 2023. Full details and a link are available on our webpage: https://foca.on.ca/boating/ under the "Latest News" heading.
Safe Boating Awareness
May 20-26, 2023 - the May long weekend marks the start of Canadian Safe Boating Awareness Week. According to the the Canadian Safe Boating Council (CSBC) more than 60% of boaters who drowned did so in water less than 10 degrees celcius, and 43% were less than 2 metres from shore.

The keys to safe boating, shared by our partners at the CSBC are as follows:
  • wear your lifejacket
  • boat sober
  • take a boating course
  • be prepared - you & your vessel
  • be cold water safe.
In Related News...
Many boaters have experienced a bad but survivable situation with an accidental fall overboard. If you have a story to tell, CSBC wants to hear it, to help fellow boaters across Canada. Was the fall in cold or warm weather? What was your attitude about wearing a lifejacket before your experience? Did the fall change your perspective? Send your stories to cheryl@playsafeproductions.com and mention you saw this notice in the FOCA Elert!
Boating App
Also consider downloading the CSBC's "Weather to Boat" app which provides current weather and up-to-date forecasts.

The app includes maps, buoy station readings, marine weather warnings and alerts, an electronic trip plan feature, a geo-referenced list of marinas and boat launches, required safety equipment and pre-departure checklists.

It even has a Kids Zone with games to keep children entertained out on the water while learning boating safety. Best of all? It's free!
Get your cottage ready with reliable and fast internet
Spring is here!

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

Call us at 1-833-606-0265 to discuss the packages and check availability at your address, or visit the Rogers booth at your nearest cottage show. See you there!
..> Haliburton Home Show (June 2-4, 2023)
..> Millbrook Fair (June 8-11, 2023)
..> Orillia Spring Boat Show (June 9-11, 2023)
FOCA Champions Safe & Affordable Rural Living
Update on Ontario Broadband and Cellular availability
As part of the province's commitment of nearly $4 billion to enable access to high-speed across the province by the end of 2025, the Ministry of Infrastructure has launched a new Ontario high-speed internet map.

Search by street address, or zoom in to your cottage area and click the map to discover details of provincially funded high-speed internet projects that are pending or active, as well as the location of existing high-speed internet service availability.
Ontario enters Wildfire Season
Parts of Northern and Central Ontario are in high or moderate first risk level at the moment, emphasizing the need for safe outdoor burning, especially where the trees and forest floor have not yet greened up. (image: @GravenhurstFire tweet on May 15, 2023)

As of May 17th, the Fire Chiefs of Haliburton County have issued a County Wide Fire Ban as dry conditions, high heat, and the lack of forecasted precipitation has led to an extreme fire risk.
Aside from conditions here in Ontario, much of Ontario, Quebec, and even the Maritimes will experience hazy, smoke-filled skies in the coming days as wildfires continue to burn in British Columbia, Alberta and the North West Territories.

For Kenora and region, the Northwestern Health Unit has issued an advisory for those with breathing problems, as a result of the smoke. (image: Ontario forest fire danger ratings map at May 17, 2023)
Watch for Waterbombers
When you are out enjoying Ontario’s waterways this long weekend and throughout the 2023 fire season, remember that waterbombers need room to scoop water from lakes. Boaters who venture too close can obstruct firefighting efforts and create a dangerous situation for themselves and pilots. 

Waterbombers will not scoop from a lake or river if encroaching watercraft pose a safety hazard. Help fight wildland fires by staying clear of waterbombers while out on the water. Download an information sheet about waterbombers and share this with others at your waterfront!
Electrical Safety
Since 2019, Ontario has seen a staggering 310% increase in powerline contacts by the general public. To help educate Ontarians and keep them safe, the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) is bringing awareness to the deadly hazards of powerlines. While many powerline contacts can be attributed to weather-related events that cause tree branches and limbs to fall on powerlines, almost a third involve accidental powerline contacts from recreational activities like tree pruning, high reach equipment and outdoor home renos with the potential for many of these activities occurring while people are attending to their cottages. For more information, including other electrical safety tips for cottage owners, visit ESAsafe.com/cottagesafety
Water Levels: Monitoring Conditions
Despite several dry days across Ontario this week, parts of cottage country remained under flood watches or warnings, including in the Mississippi Valley where the Ottawa River and nearby waterways may have peaked, but remain under a Water Safety Statement. Find real-time information about your area on the Flood Forecasting and Warning Program's online map.
Quinte Shoreline Conditions Statement
In related news, on April 28th, 2023 Quinte Conservation (QC) issued a Shoreline Conditions Statement (SCS) that remains in effect as of May 19. An SCS indicates a flood outlook (early notice of the potential for flooding based on weather and lake conditions) and provides water safety information. QC serves municipalities in the watersheds of the Moira, Napanee and Salmon Rivers, and Prince Edward County. Click here for the most recent updates from QC and learn more about flood safety and preparedness from FOCA's Water Levels webpage.
Signs on Cottage Road
Property Owners' Liability: changes on the rise
FOCA has been hearing from residents across the province that municipalities are ramping up their risk management planning. In particular, some are requiring liability coverage for parties who occupy or encroach on public lands. This includes the use of some Crown or municipal lands for private roads or landings for water access properties, or even as a condition of certain private property zoning or permitting.

These changes are evolving with time and as rural waterfront property usage shifts from seasonal to more permanent residency, including winter snow plowing. FOCA continues to help lake and road associations to structure and grow effective volunteer associations, including taking stock of their own risk management and governance practices. Learn more on our webpages:
NOTE: Some of these materials are only available to members of our current Member Associations, and you will need the member login to access them. Don't have, or can't recall the login? Contact us for assistance during business hours. Not yet a member? Find out why you should be!
upcoming events: FOCA Cottage Succession Seminars
FOCA is thrilled to be on the road again with estate lawyer Peter Lillico, helping families plan for the intergenerational transfer of the cottage! We hope you'll join us at one of our 2023 events. Here's the event calendar, so far:
  • Sat., June 3rd in-person for Hastings Highlands FOCA member groups including the Baptiste Lake Association, Diamond Lake Cottage Owners Association, Kamaniskeg Area Property Owners, Lake St. Peter Property Owners' Association, Mink Lake Property Owners Association, Papineau Lake Cottagers Association, and the Salmon Trout Property Owners Association
  • Wed., June 7th by webinar for the Bennett & Fagan Lakes Association
  • Wed., June 14th by webinar for the Severn River Association of Property Owners
  • Wed., June 21st by webinar for the Farlain Lake Community Association
  • Wed. Sept. 6th by webinar for the Big Basswood Lake Property Owners’ Association

Learn more about the topic, get registration details, or purchase access to a digital recording of a previous session, here: https://foca.on.ca/cottage-succession/
FOCA's Gold Level Sponsors
Sponsors support our work, please support them.
FOCA Advocates for Responsive Government
Land Use Planning in Ontario: so many changes afoot!
First there was the province's Bill 23 (October 2022) which our members heard about at the 2023 FOCA Spring Seminar. Now there's Bill 97 (April 2023). Does the new bill make matters worse, or improve the situation for shoreland planning protections? Read FOCA's take on this and other land use planning matters on our webpage: https://foca.on.ca/land-use-planning/ 
Floating Accommodations
As part of FOCA's ongoing concerns about floating accommodations on Ontario waterways, we want our member Association to know that sample letters have been created and shared with us, for you to send to the federal Minister of Transport, and to your municipality asking them to take action as well. There is also a House of Commons paper petition circulating, asking Transport Canada to classify both existing and new float homes within Ontario as float homes - NOT vessels. If you or your local association is interested in joining fellow associations already participating in this advocacy effort, visit https://foca.on.ca/floating-accommodations/ for more information and related links.
Boathouse or Aerodrome?
FOCA knows there have been a number of instances of waterfront development in Ontario that have sought to skirt planning rules and regulations by disingenuously proposing buildings that are actually boathouses as other federally-regulated aviation-related undertakings, such as aerodromes. FOCA believes this is a gratuitous and inappropriate application of the exemptions that are in place for genuine aviation infrastructure, and represents a threat to good planning and orderly waterfront development with appropriate oversight and planning input. 
Our member group, the Three Mile Lake Community Club in Armour Township, is in the midst of countering such a threat (at the side is an aerial view of the "aerodrome" under construction at the lower left of the image, and looks a lot like a dock with 4 boat slips). Transport Canada is reviewing the situation, and the association has created a petition that requires 500 signatures in order to be read in the House of Commons, hoping to stop such incidents from happening. If you wish to add your name to the petition, FOCA encourages you to access it here by June 25th at the latest.
Minden Emergency Room closing
On April 20th, 2023 Haliburton Highlands Health Services announced the Minden hospital emergency room will close on June 1st, citing "serious staffing shortages". FOCA contacted the Mayor of Minden Hills, and wrote to the Ministers of Health and of Infrastructure, as well as the local MPP to express our concern about the planned closure. Access to primary care and emergency services should not depend on one's postal code. Read FOCA's letter and the response we received from MPP Laurie Scott, on our Rural Services webpage.
Short Term Rental developments
Many municipalities are debating how to handle short term rentals (STR) in their jurisdictions. In April, the City of Kawartha Lakes council voted to move ahead with a STR bylaw, implementing a soft start to the program for 2023. Meanwhile the City of Orillia has not yet passed a bylaw but council did agree in April to move ahead with regulations soon. Port Colborne council came to a similar conclusion at their April council meeting. Get links to all the latest news from FOCA's webpage: https://foca.on.ca/rental/ and remember to share FOCA's STR Report with your municipal partners! Members can login on the website to download a copy, or municipal partners can request a copy directly.
FOCA Promotes Healthy Lands, Lakes & Rivers
Lake Partner Program season is underway!
Our Assistant Lake Stewardship Coordinator, Gavin Vance, reports from Dorset that all the returning Lake Partner Program volunteers have now been sent their sampling kits for 2023 (unless you joined the program in the last couple of weeks, or recently reported a change in your mailing address).
Thank you to our hundreds of volunteers across the province who make this program happen each year. Be safe, and happy sampling!

As well, some kits (from volunteers on the Canadian Shield that only sample once, in May) are already returning to the lab!

(image: Gavin at the Dorset post office, collecting returning kits for analysis at the lab)
Invasive Species Investment
The Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, and Parry Sound-Muskoka MPP Graydon Smith recently announced an investment of $1 million in the Invasive Species Centre and Nature Conservancy Canada to help combat the damaging and costly impacts of invasive species in the province. FOCA is excited that part of this investment will go towards our ongoing work on invasive species management through the IsampleON Program and 2023 Phragmites Program. Read the province's media release by clicking here. (image: invasive Phragmites, FOCA)
FOCA is very pleased to announce that the Invasive Species Awareness and Monitoring Program for Lakes Education Ontario (IsampleON) is continuing in 2023!

FOCA will be selecting additional lakes this year, using volunteer citizen scientists (that's you!) to help collect water samples from selected waterbodies. Utilizing the latest in eDNA detection technology, FOCA will be working with select lake associations through the summer of 2023 to broaden our collective understanding of the spread of harmful invasive species.

Target species this year include European water chestnut (Trapa natans), and Water soldier (Stratiotes aloides). The region of greatest concern for spread, and the monitoring target for 2023, is broadly the eastern and central portions of Ecoregion 5E (roughly Ottawa through Parry Sound-Muskoka). Access a map of the target region and the application form on FOCA's webpage, and apply by May 31st!
Invasive Species Awareness
FOCA and our members are proud to be on the front lines, preventing the spread of invasive species in our waterways and forests. May 14-20, 2023 is National Invasive Species Awareness Week. Everyone has a role to play! Share the word on social media. Learn more here & access social media graphics to share.
Funding Available: Invasive Species Centre
May 19, 2023 - the Invasive Species Centre is launching a new granting program to support action on invasive species across Ontario. Applications for Microgrants (maximum $2,000), Accelerated Impact Grants (max. $10,000) and Transformative Action Grants (max. $25,000) are due June 7, 2023. For more information visit: www.invasivespeciescentre.ca/grants.
Clean + Drain + Dry!
Last year the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry regulated watercraft (boats, canoes, kayaks, etc.) as a potential carrier of invasive species, under the Invasive Species Act. Boaters need to take action to look for and remove plant or other invasive 'hitchhikers' from boats before moving between waterbodies. Learn more about the regulations, and how they will help us prevent and slow the spread of invasives: https://foca.on.ca/invasive-species/
upcoming event: Water Canada Summit
June 7-9, 2023 - Ottawa. FOCA's Executive Director Terry Rees will be one of the featured experts at the 2023 Water Canada Summit, themed "Water Connects". Learn more about the lineup of influential water voices scheduled to speak.
FOCA's Silver Level Sponsors
Sponsors support our work, please support them.
Celebrating 60 Years of FOCA
Our Shared History
On January 7th, 1963, 125 people representing 40 cottage associations met and decided the time was right to form a provincial association. By the spring of 1963, the organization was called The Federation of Ontario Cottagers' Associations. Today, FOCA represents 50,000 families in more than 525 lake, road, river, camp, and residents' associations.
Were you involved with FOCA in the 1960s, 1970s or 1980s?
We are looking for photographs from that era of our organizational history. If you have images of past FOCA events or directors, historic pictures of your own lake Association in action through the decades, or images that capture the essence of cottage country, please share them with FOCA this year!
YOUR ROLE: Upload your images to our community photo project: "Ontario Cottaging through the Decades." Please use this link and share it with other cottage country enthusiasts: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/FOCAimages2023

Each month throughout 2023, we'll share some of the submitted photos in the Elert.
Here's another amazing photo submission:
This image (ca.1906-1908) depicts the Hoidge family arriving at Gull Lake (Minden area) by horse and carriage, having disembarked the train running from Toronto to Gelert.

Thank you for the submission, Marilyn Hagerman! Marilyn has just published a book focusing on cottage families that have owned property on Gull Lake, Minden for more than 80 years, and families who have had local roads named after them. Connect with Marilyn about her book at CottageCulture@outlook.com
There are many ways YOU can contribute to FOCA's 60th anniversary celebrations:

  1. submit pictures to our archival photo project
  2. hold the date & plan 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.
Partner Updates & Regional Notices
Waterways: Opening Dates & Lock Update
The locks of the Trent Severn Waterway (TSW) and the Rideau Canal open for the boating season this Friday, May 19th, 2023. TSW has released an update about the Kirkfield Lift Lock, which was closed early last season, due to a mechanical failure. While repairs have continued, Parks Canada wishes to advise boaters that expedited single-chamber lockages will be in place for the beginning of the 2023 boating season. Read the update online.
Lake Huron Invasive Species webinar
Wed. May 31st, 2023 at 11am - register for this one hour public webinar about Lake Huron's most unwanted creatures. The event is hosted by the Lake Huron Partnership, co-led by Environment and Climate Change Canada and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Learn more and access the registration link by clicking here.
KLSA Water Quality Report released
On May 6th, 2023 FOCA participated in the Annual General Meeting of our affiliate group, the Kawartha Lake Stewards Association (KLSA) who have announced the release of their 2022 Annual Lake Water Quality Report, titled "Learning from our Lakes". The report includes feature articles about ice loss, water temperatures and dissolved oxygen monitoring, shorelines, eutrophication, carbon storage, phosphorus sequestration, invasive species, and more. Download a digital copy from their website: https://klsa.wordpress.com/published-material/
CHA Lake Stewards Meeting
Also on May 6th, 2023 FOCA was pleased to attend the meeting of one of our affiliate groups, the Coalition of Haliburton Property Owners' Associations (CHA). Their annual lake stewards meeting was held this year near the shores of Eagle Lake. Almost 100 lake representatives attended to learn more about the interrelated impacts of climate change, dropping calcium levels, invasive species and more, and to hear about new approaches to monitor and better understand the health of our lakes. For more information about CHA and their work visit: https://www.cohpoa.org/
Westport "Lawn B Gone" event
Friday June 2nd, 2023 at 7pm (Westport) - as part of the first annual "EcoFest" celebration in Westport (June 2-3), Sean James, a professional gardener, will make a presentation about beautiful alternatives to the 'green desert' (i.e., grass). The event has been organized by the Better Together Circle. Get details on their Facebook page.
FOCA's Bronze level sponsors
Sponsors support our work, please support them.
FOCA Serves Lake & Road Associations
webinar recap: Cardiac Safe Communities & Your Association
May 10, 2023 - Is your cottage community prepared for cardiac emergencies? If you missed our "lunch and learn" webinar about the importance of automated external defibrillators (AED) and how to create a cardiac safe cottage community, watch the recording that has been posted to FOCA's Emergency Preparedness webpage in the "Latest News" section.
Highlights of this webinar session:
  • hear real cardiac arrest save stories
  • find out more about AEDs - when they are needed and why they are important
  • watch a quick AED demo, and learn how to take care of your AED
  • learn about 24/7 outdoor AED access options for a cottage community.
Please share this webinar information widely with your cottage community!
ASSOCIATION TIP: Give a Report About FOCA at your AGM
Help your fellow members understand the work that FOCA does year-round on their behalf, and the benefits they have access to because of your Association's annual membership in FOCA. Contact the office to ask for a short set of slides: "About FOCA" and a script you can use to explain in 5 minutes why your annual contribution is money well spent!
Final Thoughts
Gift Idea: "Friend of FOCA"
Looking for a unique gift? Whether you're a bit late for Mother's Day (doh!), or planning ahead for Father's Day, you can now give that special person the gift of being a Friend of FOCA for the coming year! They'll gain access to member resources and benefits, and you'll be supporting FOCA's work for waterfront Ontario. We all win.
The Ausable Bayfield Conversation Authority is encouraging people to use trails and conservation areas to prevent and manage illness. Their #HealthyHikes campaign launched during Mental Health Week from May 1-7, 2023 and continues through October.
At one of their properties, the Ausable River Cut Conservation Area, the Lambton Shores Nature Trails organization has installed a "Wind Phone" on the trail, to help those who are grieving to "speak" to the people they have lost. The phones are not connected to a phone system and there is no dial tone. The idea of a wind phone comes from Japan. Learn more from ABCA and remember to #StepIntoNature this long weekend!
FOCA is the Federation of Ontario Cottagers' Associations,
the voice of the waterfront for the past 60 years.
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Please note the FOCA office will be closed on Monday, May 22nd, 2023 for the Victoria Day holiday weekend.
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