Waterfront owners not loving their lakes
|By Mark Arike - Staff Writer | July 5, 2018
The latest findings of the Love Your Lake program are similar to last year.
Of the 60 local lakes surveyed by the Coalition of Haliburton Property Owners’ Association (CHA), only eight per cent had adequate natural shorelines. To meet the standard, 75 per cent of shoreline around the lake requires a 30-metre vegetative buffer to maintain the existing water quality, according to a scientific review by the Muskoka Watershed Council.
“Only five made the grade,” CHA chair Paul MacInnes told county council on June 27.
A total of 5,228 properties, or 939 km of shoreline, need to be re-naturalized, said MacInnes.
Since it launched four years ago, trained staff and volunteers have collected data on 13,487 properties on 72 lakes (60 are in the county). This includes information on four natural shoreline classifications: natural, regenerative, ornamental and degraded. It also took into account setbacks and dock types.
The CHA obtained more than $300,000 in funding to carry out the work. Poor lake health can lead to the development of algae blooms. In Ontario, phosphorus from septic systems is the leading cause of its growth. In some places, blooms have led to swimming bans and a drop in property values.
“The Canadian Real Estate Association has come out with a statistic that one bluegreen algae bloom on a lake will drive down property values by 30 per cent,” he said.
The goal is to bring all lakes up to the 75 per cent minimum. Individual reports have been given to property owners informing them how they can re-naturalize their shoreline. The CHA also has a tool on its website that offers expert recommendations for vegetation. MacInnes believes there’s a major business opportunity in re-naturalizing shorelines.
“I figure it’s a $25 million project,” he said, pointing out there aren’t many local experts in this field. Going forward, MacInnes said it’s important to continue talking about this issue and getting people motivated. This winter, the CHA will ask municipalities to insert information with tax bills.
Coun. Murray Fearrey of Dysart thinks that municipalities may need to get involved by sending letters with suggestions to property owners who have “glaring errors” on their shorelines.
“I think there’s an opportunity for us to be more involved,” he said.
MacInnes said the CHA can’t release information on particular properties to anyone. A list of shoreline re-naturalization providers is on the CHA’s website at cohpoa.org.
MARK ARIKE is a reporter for The Highlander.