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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Shore projects may need work permits

As summer approaches, Lake Simcoe cottage owners are being reminded shore protection, dredging and certain types of docks and boathouses built on shore lands require work permits from the Ministry of Natural Resources.

Contact the local ministry office for information on whether or not a work permit is needed for your project.

For projects on the Georgina or Thorah shorelines, contact Mark Patterson in Aurora at 905-713-7388.

For projects along the Simcoe County shoreline, contact the Midhurst district office: Brenda Robinson 705-725-7524, or Jeff Haelzle 705-725-7566.

Ministry work permit information is also available at, look under activities on Crown land requiring specific approvals.

Land use occupational authority (e.g. land use permit, lease) may be required for an occupation of Crown land, even if a work permit is not required to build the structure. Builders should check with their local Natural Resources Ministry offices to determine if proposed structures require land use occupational authority.

Proposed structures could have an impact on fish habitat or public navigation.

Work permit applications for projects that can affect fish habitat are referred to the local Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority (905-895-1281) or the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

If there is concern a project may affect the navigation of a waterway, the navigable waters protection branch of the Canadian Coast Guard should be contacted at 519-383-1865 for more information.

Concerns growing over cormorant population

A controversial double-crested cormorant cull on Lake Ontario has been continued for two more years, ordered by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty.
According to the Ministry of Natural Resources, the idea is to wipe out the breeding population at Presquile Provincial Park, which has skyrocketed from one pair in 1982 to more than 10,000 pairs at present.
Meanwhile, local concern over cormorants are on the rise because a colony on Ship Island in Lake Couchiching, and another at the north end of Lake Simcoe, as well as colonies in Georgian Bay, are growing fast. Last year, the Orillia city council sought corrective measures due to the cormorants' behaviour. A council motion at that time stated "cormorant populations are destroying fish, water quality and vegetation."

Cormorant destruction is so controversial that the MNR has issued its staff a "gag order" preventing them from discussing the issue. But, MNR officials say that property-owners may lawfully destroy cormorants on their own land if they are damaging property.

In 2002, a four-year MNR cormorant management package took shape. Culling of the birds was a main component. On May 5 this year, the Ontario government endorsed a continuation of the cormorant-cull program. In 2004, some 6000 of the birds were destroyed.

According to MNR officials, special scientific committees have recommended that culling continue into 2006.

Meanwhile, Canada Post is about to release a commemorative stamp featuring an image of a cormorant.

Cormorants on the Great Lakes were almost obliterated in the 1970s due to DDT and other contaminants

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Riverfront homes raise concerns

Riverfront homes raise concerns
A swanky Cape Cod-style development at the mouth of the Pefferlaw River got a rough ride from environmentalists and neighbouring residents last week. Everglades Marina owners want to build 45 homes on the 15-acre site critics charge is a sensitive wetland. While not fronting directly on the river, the homes would have river and lake access by way of excavated channels, planning consultant Michael Smith told council. The proposal would also see the homes served by private communal water and sewage systems and a private road. The plan is to build "upscale Cape Cod or New England-style units", Mr. Smith said. There would be no docks on the river itself, which would be protected by a natural buffer. The developer has to meet tough conditions considering the potential environmental impacts, town planner Denis Beaulieu said, calling the area "problematic" with a high water table and wetland characteristics. To build, the site would require extensive de-watering and fill, he said. Margaretha Vandervelden of the

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

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Have our system auto-send you an email when winds reach over 20 knots on Lake Simcoe. Perfect for the sailor who doesn't want to check the weather every five minutes.

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Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Oro Lakeshore housing plan has residents worried

A plan to develop housing on the shore of Lake Simcoe is moving ahead without adequate consideration for potential impacts on the environment, an area naturalist has warned.
"It is one of the last pieces of natural shoreline in the area," said Jim Woodford. "It should be preserved."
A request by the Moon Point Corporation to rezone waterfront property at Four Mile Point for residential use was initially turned down when Oro-Medonte Township council decided against holding a public meeting on the proposal, resulting in an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board.

In a vote held in November, council adopted an amendment allowing the municipality to consider requests for residential shoreline development in rural-restricted areas, such as the one at Four Mile Point.

Moon Point Corporation has since dropped the OMB appeal, and submitted a revised proposal for 14 waterfront homes.

"That is a big step," Woodford added of council's decision.

Deputy Mayor Harry Hughes agreed, and said the move marks a sharp shift away from Oro-Medonte's earlier promise to protect specific portions of the township from future development.

"It is opening the door," he added.

By agreeing to consider future expansions of the shoreline designation for residential use, council has paved the way for the developer to proceed with an application, Hughes said.

"If you vote at council, you have to assume a councillor has done due diligence and done the research and asked the questions," he added. "To change your mind means that there should be new information, and I didn't see anything that would change my mind."

The property was designated as a restricted-rural zone in the early 1990s as part of a larger effort to create a buffer between Oro-Medonte and the cities of Barrie and Orillia, noted Hughes, who along with Coun. Ralph Hough opposed the recent amendment. "Oro-Medonte had held rigidly to that," he added.

Before council can vote on an application for development, all environmental studies related to the project must undergo a peer review.

Only then can council grant the necessary rezoning, Hughes said.

"There is a possibility that this development, when it comes forward, council could turn around and say 'no', even if the requirements were met," he added.

Toronto resident Janet Bumstead has cottaged at Four Mile Point for 25 years, and fears the development could ruin the delicate ecosystem that exists there.

A natural, treed berm located along the shoreline of the property plays a crucial role in protecting fish habitat and controls water flow into the lake, she said.

"It is just a perfectly balanced system that has not been touched," she added. "It would be nice if it was left that way, because I don't think Lake Simcoe can tolerate more sediment and nutrient loading. "That piece of land should be a buffer between Orillia and Oro Medonte," she added. "If Oro Medonte wants a buffer of its own, that is it."

Hughes agrees, and said he was surprised by council's willingness to consider additional shoreline development.

"The restricted rural zone had been adhered to very strictly," he told The Advance. "I believe you have a plan in place for a reason. We had already turned down several applications for severances in the rural restricted area."

Woodford believes the township is ill-equipped to perform the detailed analysis needed to determine the impact such a development would have on local wildlife.

An Environmental Impact Statement prepared for the developer falls short of providing a comprehensive accounting of the many species of birds, fish and plants living in the area, he added.

Not until all aspects are studied should the environmental impact statement be considered by the Lake Simcoe Regional Conservation Authority, he said.

"If they do approve it (as is), it would make a mockery of their mandate to protect Lake Simcoe," he added.

Mayor Neil Crag said the municipality has taken a leadership role in protecting the environment, and pointed to the township's moraine policy as proof of that commitment.

"We are the only municipality I know of that has done a natural heritage study on a feature like the Oro Moraine," he added. "Unlike the province, which comes in and changes the Oak Ridges moraine area, we had to go through the public planning process. That shows our leadership and fortitude to protect our natural heritage."

Council will be looking to the Lake Simcoe Regional Conservation Authority to provide unbiased comment on the developer's proposal, and any impact it might have on the environment, he said.

"They are not working for this developer or this home owners' association, they are, to my mind, a scientific and neutral body," he said. "We would definitely be relying, at least at the outset, on what they tell us."

Monday, May 02, 2005

Log of an adventure from Lake Ontario to Bahamas!

Winter destination of choice - a very good read on the passage from Lake Ontario
down to Florida then to Bahamas and over to a Hugues 25 no less!