It was a busy winter ...
Here's what you missed
|By Jennifer Hughey - Contributing writer | May 20, 2016|
New regulations for docks and boathouses
In case you missed it, Ontario introduced a new application process in April for the installation of docks and single-story wet boathouses over 15-square metres.
The changes are the result of judicial ruling last summer that ordered the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (OMNRF) to update the application form for the construction or placement of a dock or boathouse on shore lands.
The province defines shore lands as anything below the high-water line, so anyone planning to build a dock or boathouse floating above, resting on or physically attached to or coving more than 15-square metres of this space – will now require a permit under the Public Lands Act.
OMNRF Minister Bill Mauro said the new dock permitting requirements will remain in place for all of the 2016 season, if not longer.
“We understand that all individuals may not be aware of this change,” Mauro wrote in a letter to members of the Federation of Ontario Cottagers’ Associations.
“My ministry’s primary goal at this time is to promote compliance with legislated requirements by focusing its efforts on education and permit processing.”
County Warden and Algonquin Highlands Reeve Carol Moffatt said it will only cause headaches.
“It’s a jurisdictional tangled web,” Moffatt said, adding she only found out recently and when she asked the township’s planner, Sean O’Callaghan, if he knew, the answer was no.
There are multiple concerns about the new rules, said Moffatt.
“From a municipal standpoint it was problematic,” she said. “The application relied on self-attestation and had several boxes that needed to be checked ... in theory, an applicant can easily tick off the compliance boxes without having to consult with the agencies on the list.”
“There is still a tremendous number of questions and clarifications to be determined,” Moffatt said. Moffatt said she has sent a letter to the ministry outlining her concerns.
The MNRF is working to make the application form available online, but until then, it can be obtained upon request through local district offices. To view a list of those offices, visit ontario.ca/page/ministry-natural-resources-and-forestry-regional-and-district-offices.
(With files from Alex Coop)
Flooding reminiscent of 2013
It was deja vu for Minden Hills residents this spring, with water levels reaching or exceeding capacity during the last week of March and the first part of April.
Factors like a quick onslaught of warm weather, runoffs and current water levels caused the Gull River watershed – connecting to the Trent-Severn Waterway – to increase to 2.5 metres. And every lake level gauge in the county was flirting with historical highs.
The Gull River watershed is made up of 17 lakes, but the river itself represents roughly 10 per cent of the total drainage area of the Trent River, according to Parks Canada.
After the first flood watch was issued at the end of March, Minden Hills sent out multiple advisories, sometimes more than once a day, and kept their website current.
One report stated that due to a continual increase of outflow on Horseshoe Lake, water levels would increase and remain high as water was being moved down through reservoir lakes upstream of Minden, which were currently at, or above, capacity.
The water levels in the Burnt River watershed peaked and stayed above normal for several days also.
Sand bags were made available by the township of Minden Hills as several sections of Minden's Riverwalk were submerged, and there were many road closures.
In Dysart, the roads department were also kept busy. Workers and private contractors teamed up to repair several roads that were affected by washouts but most were passable within a day.
County Warden Carol Moffatt said the communication between all involved parties vastly improved since the devastating spring flood of 2013 and that municipalities received updates daily about the conditions.
Conference calls were set up between the staff from Parks Canada, the Trent-Severn Waterway (TSW), the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF), and others.
Finally, on May 13, Minden Hills roads superintendent Travis Wilson notified the public that roads previously closed due to the high water levels, were now open, and that there will be no further media releases issued regarding the 2016 spring high water levels.
Each of the municipalities work closely with various agencies to keep updated on the latest water levels and water flows in the area, according to Haliburton County’s website. Visit haliburtoncounty.ca/flood-preparation/available-information-to-keep-informed-on-water-levels/ for information resources.
(With files from Mark Arike)
Buzz, buzz, buzz
It’s the weekend Canadians have all been waiting for – the May 2-4.
It cues businesses to get ready for the busy season and generally, people are happy as the sun is shining and the snow is finally – dare we say – gone. Fabulous weather expected. Wildly better than up here and in Toronto for the last two months.
However, Here come the bugs.
Did you know that there are 161 species of blackflies in Canada, but only two bite? Most come out mid-May until late June, depending on the weather. And, unhappily, this weekend will be perfect their emergence. Temperatures in the 20s will raise water temperatures to the five-degree threshold for the season to start. The blackfly lifespan is only three weeks, but there a several generations a season.
Mosquitos should make their first appearance this week as well.
Remember your first horse or deer fly bite? Did it feel like it actually took a chunk of skin? That’s probably because it did. Deer and horse flies are out from late June to mid-August and fly only during the day. They are attracted to movement and tend to circle their prey before they land and bite.
Before heading outside this summer, make sure you understand how you react to insect bites. Cover up by wearing breathable clothing (as it may be hot), like linen tops and pants you can tuck into your socks (black flies will attempt to crawl under your clothing, if possible).
Wear light-coloured clothing, as some bugs are attracted to dark colours, a bug jacket or hat with good visibility and fine insect netting. If you’re camping, maybe invest in a screened-in dining shelter.
You can grow citronella to deter bugs or use insect repellent when outdoors. But generally, diseases that mosquitos are known to carry, like West Nile and malaria, are not known to arise from staying at parks, camp sites or from day-to-day living in the county.
If you have questions about diseases that can be contracted from insects, you can check out health.gov.on.ca or healthcanada.gc.ca for the latest information. And if you are wondering about insect repellent safety guidelines, visit healthycanadians.gc.ca and make sure to thoroughly read the directions on your repellent. But the rule of thumb for adults is the more DEET the better. But kids shouldn't use repellents with that chemical.
Don’t let your home or cottage go up in flames
In the past year, there have been a number of devastating fires in Haliburton County. Some small, others massive – destroying not only a structure, but the memories built within.
Highlands East (HE) lost the 50-year-old Harcourt Community Centre in November. Fire Chief Bill Wingrove said the fire spread quickly to the roof and that more than 30 firefighters worked for three hours to put it out.
A cottage on Redstone Lake burned down two weeks before Christmas, causing $1 million in damages. The residence was collapsing when firefighters arrived and took nine hours for crews to extinguish. Dysart fire Chief Miles Maughan confirmed the owner had insurance and the fire was not suspicious.
A fire on Whispering Pine Trail in Minden Hills levelled a house and caused a propane tank explosion in the process. Neighbours reported hearing three explosions but fire investigators said they were secondary to the cause of the fire. No one was home at the time of the fire but the family unfortunately lost their pet dog.
A barn belonging to Lorrie McCauley on Eagle Lake Road also burned to the ground in February. No one was in the barn at the time, but McCauley’s tenant lost four of seven dogs. Maughan said 21 firefighters battled for nearly seven hours to put it out.
More recently, a nearly seven-hectare fire at Raven Lake off Highway 35 in Dorset had fire crews from Stanhope, Dorset and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) busy. The MNRF reportedly used water bombers to deal with the blaze last week. Huntsville and Lake of Bays fire investigators say the fire was caused by a contractor who was burning during restricted hours and that charges are now pending.
In the past two weeks, there have been a number of daytime grass and brush fires. The fire departments of Haliburton County are reminding both seasonal and local residents that conditions are very dry right now and that all outdoor burning should be done with extreme caution.
Maughan provided additional warnings like when burning, always stay at your fire. If you leave the fire could spread or a child could fall into it. And always be aware of where you are setting off fireworks. Never point toward bush area, houses, or groups of people.
To learn more about your municipality’s burning regulations, visit their respective websites and to know and understand the Forest Fire Danger rating, call 1-877-847-1577.
JENNIFER HUGHEY is a contributing writer for The Highlander.