Lake Partner News

We’ve put together and summarized some recent news and articles from our Lake Partners.  Use the links to access full information  Enjoy!

  Cottage Life          

The surprising way woodstove ashes can help your forest:  The soil in Muskoka is typically low in calcium that has been leached out by acid rain.  The Friends of Muskoka Watershed's ASHMuskoka program, hopes to replenish the calcium deficient soils of the region to boost forest productivity.  “The most interesting result that we don’t quite understand yet is a dramatic increase in sap volume from sugar maples,” says Dr. Norman Yan. In one experiment, some maple trees supplemented with wood ash doubled in sap flow.  If you have groves of maples or other hardwoods, sprinkle about a yoghurt container per square yard of wood ash in your forest stands. “You’ll see a real benefit for the health of your trees,” says Yan.

Other of wood ash include using wood ash as an environmentally-friendly alternative to road salt on steps and walkways and to improve vehicle traction on icy driveways.  For those with outhouses, sprinkling some wood ash after use is said to eliminate outhouse odours.  

What restrictions can you put on your rental cottage?  “There are rules and policies that each host sets for their vacation home,” says Alison Kwong, a spokesperson for VRBO. “It gives hosts that peace of mind.”  Restrictions can include guest and pet policies, primary renter age, length of stay, and local rules.

What to do if you’re involved in a boat crash:  According to the Lifesaving Society, powerboating activities account for roughly 10 per cent of the 160 or so drowning deaths that occur in Ontario every year. Here’s what you should know.

  The Land Between          

    Healthy Shorelands:  Interested in improving the health of your shoreland, welcoming pollinators and stopping pesky Canadian Geese from pooping everywhere? The Shorelands Gardens Program, a joint venture with Watersheds Canada, gives you tips to improve our environment.

    Become a Citizen Scientist!  Interested in helping with conservation? Sign up for one of The Land Between’s programs to learn more about how to keep the environment healthy, identify wildlife, research wetlands and protect turtles!

      Muskoka Lakes Association          

    Spruce Up Your Boating Skills This Spring!  Surveys reflect growing concern about the safety of our lakes and the preservation of Muskoka’s shores as the result of boating.  To help promote safe and enjoyable boating, MLA has provided access to six 9- to 19-minute E-Learning modules.  Topics Include: Boating Law, Safety and Courtesy; Safe and Enjoyable PWCing; Towing Human Beings; Safe and Enjoyable Night Boating; Boating Basic Navigation; Departing and Landing.

    Spongy (LDD or Gypsy) Moths: To reduce the impact of gypsy moths on your trees: remove and discard egg masses, wrap your trees with burlap bands and/or collect the caterpillars by hand (wear gloves) and kill them in soapy water.

    Ticks – On the Look Out!  Ticks are most active in spring and summer, but can be found at any time of the year when the temperature is above freezing. You might be at risk if you live, work in, or visit a wooded area, or an area with tall grasses and bushes (including city gardens and parks) or if you are involved in outdoor activities such as hiking, camping and gardening.  You may be bitten by a tick and not even know it.  Here’s what you can do to avoid getting a tick bite:  wear light-coloured clothing so ticks are easier to see, closed-toed shoes, long-sleeved shirts, long pants tucked into your socks, and special clothing designed to repel ticks.

      Muskoka Ratepayers Association

    Skeleton Lake Marina:  The owners of Skeleton Lake Marina submitted an application to rezone some land for a parking area and expand their docking facilities. According to Township by-laws, the property is permitted 80 feet of docks; they currently have 160 feet and propose to expand another 80 feet.  Mr. Kurtis Jones spoke to Committee explaining that this expansion has been brought on by public demand for boat parking on Skeleton Lake. Mr. Jones stated that the environment and safety in Beaumont Bay is important to them as well. When questioned about the environment and boating safety, Mr. Jones informed Committee that they are members of Boating Ontario and Clean Marine program. His staff have many pamphlets on boating that they distribute to customers.

    Letters of support were received stating:

    • there were two marinas on Skeleton Lake and last fall one announced it was closing. This seems to have changed but the number of available docks at that marina remains an unknown,
    • the marina is an essential service for island property owners.
    • if the number of boat slips are reduced on the lake, island property owners may be forced to launch and remove their boats at the public boat launches on a regular basis,
    • the use of the public docks may increase, and
    • these proposed docks will only alleviate the boat parking issue, not solve it.

    Many submissions were received in opposition to the application voicing concerns including but not limited to:

    •  safety in a narrow bay,
    •  too much traffic in the bay,
    •  increased erosion caused by boat wakes,
    •  noise, and
    •  concerns that the circulation notice was not sent to all owning property in the bay.

    Committee members were in support of the application but did question why the extra spots were being added to the longest dock. Mr. Jones explained that they felt it was the best dock to expand as they did not wish to impact their neighbour’s privacy who is located close to one of the shorter docks and the second shorter dock was their “gas dock” and located by the boat launch. Staff further clarified that the applicant has submitted a deeming by-law application to merge the two lots on the property.

    A resolution was read and carried unanimously to approve the application subject to site plan control and that the natural heritage site be rezoned to Environmentally Protected 1.

    Site Alteration By-Law Update:  Changes to the Site Alterations by-law were mostly “technical” but allow by-law staff to enforce the by-law and set fines more easily.  The most significant change is penalties were increased from a maximum $10,000 to $100,000 for both individuals and corporations.  These are the maximum fines permitted under the Municipal Act. An Engage Muskoka page that includes a number of questions to obtain public input prior to returning to Committee.

      Muskoka Steamships and Discovery Centre

    Indigenous Perspective: The Reconnecting with the Natural World webinar tells the story of the indigenous peoples who have called Muskoka home for over 13,000 years and how we can reconnect with their concept of home.

      Nature Conservancy Canada

    Have you tried Plogging?  A trendy workout that benefits nature.

      Reform Gravel Mining Coalition

    Moratorium on New Aggregate Mining Applications:  Eighteen Ontario Municipalities now support a moratorium on new gravel mining approvals in Ontario with more in the process of signing on.  SLCO has brought this Moratorium to:

    • Three Councillors at the Township of Muskoka Lakes - all three Councillors replied and expressed interest in exploring the possibility of the Township of Muskoka Lakes signing the Moratorium.  
    • Three Councillors at the Town of Huntsville - None responded.  
    • Four separate messages were sent to four individuals at FOCA, including the Executive Director - None replied.  
    • MLA offered to include a piece in their NewsBites Newsletter;  SLCO provided a submission that was published in the March 2022 edition.   
    Additional information:  FAQs on why this Moratorium is needed and The Moratorium Statement.

      Safe Quiet Lakes

    Wake Aware Committee Update:  Have a look at Safe Quiet Lake's bewakeaware.com video, featured at this year's Spring Cottage Life show.  New Wake Awareness materials will be available this summer, hopefully at in-person events and beyond.  Contact SQL to get your No Wake signs, available for $20.00 and check out these articles featured on MyMuskokaNow and Muskokaregion.com.

    Decibel Coalition Update:  Transport Canada, responsible for regulations on Canadian waterways, invited public consultation on its Let’s Talk web portal by presenting five options regarding boat muffler and noise emission levels. Almost 2,000 responses were in favour of decibel limits.  The Decibel Coalition supports the introduction of performance standards for both manufacturers and operators to ensure vessels don’t exceed certain decibel limits. The Coalition believes that the decibel limits must be accompanied by efficient, effective enforcement procedures that make it easy for police to use on the water. This process has sent a very loud and direct message to Transport Canada that action must be taken.   The Coalition also asked that you write to your local politicians - again there has been great response from across the country with more than 380 letters sent to over 70 MPs.  If you have not yet sent a letter to your MP(s) please use this link to do so.

    Your Lakes  Your Views Survey:  All Safe Quite Lakes programs are based on input from lakefront communities. In 2017, over 3,300 persons responded and the detailed report was shared with lake associations, local governments and the OPP. Six thousand community members responded to the 2021 Your Lakes, Your Views survey:

    • 71% supported no wake zones to protect people and nature
    • 70% supported stronger enforcement of boating while under the influence
    • 67% supported establishing decibel limits on boat noise
    • only 18% said there is no need for additional enforcements (down by 33%).  
    The research report has eight practical recommendations. Safe Quiet Lakes is actively working on plans to lead these changes.  

      Be Wake Aware:  Over 200 No Wake signs were deployed in Muskoka and beyond.  SQL released the Be #WakeAware campaign in partnership with FOCA and the MLA to educate those participating in tow sports to stay well away from shore. 

        Town of Huntsville   (also applicable to the Township of Muskoka Lakes)

      Licensing short-term rentals:  All seasonal and permanent residents of the town’s Short-Term Rental Accommodation (STRA) Program. All those operating a short-term rental are reminded that they must be licensed with the Town and registered with OHRMA for the MAT program.

      Emergency Preparedness – Be Ready for Anything:  Natural disasters may be beyond our control, but there are ways to reduce the risk and impact of whatever emergency might happen, whether natural or human-induced. Everyone has a role to play when it comes to emergency preparedness.  Take concrete actions to protect yourself and your family during an emergency by practicing these simple steps:

      1. Know the risks – Although the consequences of disasters can be similar, knowing the risks specific to our community and our region can help you better prepare.
      2. Make a plan – It will help you and your family know what to do.
      3. Build an emergency kit – During an emergency, everyone will need basic supplies. You may need to get by without power or tap water. Be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours in an emergency.
      4. Stay Informed – Residents are encouraged to be alert ready. There are several ways to stay informed:
      • Register for local notification through the new Voyent Alert in Muskoka app. This is a community alerting service provided by the District of Muskoka and surrounding communities. It is intended to keep you informed during critical incidents such as fires or floods. The service is FREE, simple and anonymous. Register online to receive email, voice or text-based alerts at: register.voyent-alert.com.
      • Sign-up for Provincial notifications through the Alert Ready in Ontario app
      • Follow @OntarioWarnings, @ONsafety and other provincial communication handles on Twitter or follow #AlertMuskoka on social media
      • Subscribe, listen or follow local government and media outlets online

        Visit getprepared.gc.ca for resources to help you and your family prepare for all types of emergencies or Huntsville.ca for additional information specific to Huntsville. 

        Please contact Tom Grajnar at tom.grajnar@skeletonlake.ca with any suggestions that you may have for our Lake Partner News Summary.  

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