Lake Waseosa Ratepayers’ Association
c/o 21 Cottage Lane, RR#3
August 8, 2018
Re: PROPOSED CONSENT AND ZONING AMENDMENT B/43/44/45/2012/HTE & Z/37/2012/HTE (Logagianes)
The LWRA has serious concerns about this proposal. The first concerns the historical water quality of the lake. The District of Muskoka of course tries to evaluate the water quality based on the concentration of phosphorous.
There are two criteria that must be examined to determine if a lake has exceeded its acceptable threshold for phosphorus. If a lake meets both of these criteria, then it is considered to be Over Threshold:
1. Total phosphorus concentration, as estimated by the Muskoka Water Quality Model, exceeds the “Background + 50%” threshold; and
2. Long-term measured total phosphorus concentration, as determined by Muskoka’s Lake System Health monitoring program, also exceeds the “Background + 50%” threshold value.
In the case of Jessop, Gartner-Lee established it to be 14.4  ug/L.
The currently published 10-year Long Term Average is 15ug/L. In 2007, the 10-year LTA was 16.4ug/L.5. In 2005, it was 15ug/L. So for the last 18 years, the long term average has exceeded the threshold.
The Muskoka Water Quality Model attempts to estimate the phosphorous concentration from data such as the number and nature of residences around the lake. There are three problems with the model in this case.
First of all, Jessop is a shallow lake that does not stratify thermally. Non-stratified lakes do not model well under the Muskoka recreational water quality model, as it was calibrated for stratified lakes. The major difference in modelling small shallow lakes is related to estimates of phosphorus settling velocity and hence phosphorus retention. Constant re-suspension by mixing in shallow lakes means that they must be modelled with lower retention values. The shallow lakes in the Muskoka model, including Jessop, were calibrated individually. In-lake phosphorus retention was modified to achieve a best fit between measured and predicted estimates of total phosphorus concentration. In other words, the study authors made an arbitrary guess how much phosphorous Jessop retains.
Second, the “flushing rate” of Jessop is highly variable, depending upon the current whims of the beaver population. Locals are quite familiar with the fluctuating shorelines as the beavers dam the outflow to Waseosa. When the dam deteriorates, Jessop is flushed into Waseosa. This high variability only makes the task of accurate modelling more difficult, but observations from long-term residents of increased algae and plant growth in summer confirm that the average nutrient level is increasing.
Third, the model relies upon an accurate count of existing permanent and full-time residences. Since 2005, two new residences have been constructed and 3 formerly seasonal residences are now used year-round. On such a small lake, this translates to a 10% increase in load that is not included in the outdated model.
In 2008, Gartner-Lee noted this fluctuation and advised the District that there is insufficient data available to verify the statistically significant data points. To date, the District has not increased the frequency of testing on Jessop, and the last sample was taken in 2010.
If a model – of anything – does not accurately reflect the original, which is defective?
As our District Councillors can attest, last year Council voted to draw from reserves to fund revisions to the Muskoka recreational water quality modelling process, but that is not yet complete.
The second concern the LWRA has is the recreational carrying capacity of the lake. The District of Muskoka Official Plan supports policies to ensure the carrying capacity is not significantly affected and development proceeds in a socially sound manner. The Huntsville Official Plan also recognizes that other factors present limits to the desirable amount of development on a particular lake and directs Lake Associations to address these matters on an individual lake basis.
Under that mandate, in 2006 the LWRA commissioned a study of the Recreational Carrying Capacity of the 4 lakes represented, including Jessop. The study was updated as part of the 2011 Lake Plan review process. This study analyzed the capacity utilizing two complimentary models. The first is the Ontario Ministry of the Environment “Lake Alert System”, which sets limits based on the available surface area of the lake in relation to the amount of development. Under the Lake Alert System, 4 hectares per dwelling are required on a small lake. The study revealed that the total surface area of Jessop is only 1.15 ha/property. That means the number of existing lots are already almost four times the recommended amount for a small lake.
The District of Muskoka OP also makes reference to boating density in determining the recreational carrying capacity of a waterway. Accordingly, the LWRA commissioned a Boat Density Study. The study revealed that Jessop Lake was very nearly at capacity, and in fact could only accommodate one more boat. Assuming that the new residents that built their new place last summer will have a boat, that limit has been reached.
In general, the planning hierarchy is from the top down. In other words, the District Official Plan cannot permit things prohibited by Provincial Policy Statements, but may be more restrictive. Likewise, the Huntsville OP must conform to the District level, but may be more restrictive.
The District OP requires a minimum 20 metre setback from any shoreline will be required for all development, excluding shoreline structures. Further, the District’s Lake System Health Plan mandates lakes classed “Moderate sensitivity” increased building setbacks on lakes like Jessop that have been classed “Moderate sensitivity. This is particularly important to consider when faced with shallow lakes considering the ongoing global climate change. The growth of algae depends upon both the nutrient levels and the temperature. Jessop is quite shallow and is very sensitive to temperature changes – it warms up more thoroughly in the summer than a deeper lake. As we cannot control the water temperature, it becomes critical to limit the nutrients we add.
20 meters is the minimum setback permitted under any Huntsville Shoreline Residential zoning class, including SR2. The only classes with increased setbacks are SR3 and SR5 (30m). Therefore, SR2 zoning is inappropriate for properties surrounding Jessop Lake.
The Huntsville OP recognizes and encourages Associations to develop Lake Plans, providing more detailed land use policy direction for specific lakes in the Town. They are specifically intended to go beyond the more general policy framework of both the Town of Huntsville Official Plan and District Municipality of Muskoka Official Plan. Such plans are intended to identify, reflect and respond to the character and physical capabilities of particular lakes.
As described, the Huntsville OP requires a Lake Plan to set limits on development potential and capacity;
Specifically, “Those provisions of the lake plan that are related to municipal planning policy and that may vary from the general provisions of the Huntsville Official Plan are
carried forward as specific policies applicable to the Lake”.
LWRA first developed a Lake Plan in 2006, covering Jessop (Jingo), Ripple, Palette and Waseosa. The Lake Plan was updated in 2011, incorporating updated data and recommendations, following a Public Meeting for all area landowners (not just members of the LWRA). The meeting was advertised in advance in the Huntsville Forrester, YourClassifieds.ca on the LWRA website, on the Community Bulletin Boards maintained at key traffic locations in the surrounding area, by e-mail to all subscribers and by flyers distributed door-to-door to all area properties. The Huntsville Planning Department was also notified by e-mail. The draft Lake Plan was published on our website and paper copies were made available on request as well as in advance at the meeting. The meeting was attended by approximately 50 area landowners as well as a reporter from the Huntsville Forrester. At the conclusion of the meeting, on a motion by Marcie Edwards and seconded by Graham Leishman the Lake Plan was adopted by a unanimous vote of all those in attendance.
A copy of the revised Lake Plan was submitted to the Planning Department electronically on November 17, 2011 and published on the LWRA website.
Based on both the measured long-term water quality and the recreational carrying capacity, the Lake Plan provides for responsible redevelopment of existing properties specifically prohibits the creation of new lots on Jessop (Jingo) Lake. There are two zones, SR-4 and SR-5, that preclude the severance of new lots. As Jessop is classed as “Moderately Sensitive”, mandating an increased setback from the minimum, the existing SR5 zoning is appropriate.
To summarize then:
- The phosphorous level of Jessop is high by any standard, and consistently exceeds the threshold despite the outdated model value, probably because the model is not designed for shallow lakes.
- Global climate change may well lead to increased water temperatures which in turn can lead to algae blooms. There are warning signs that the lake is already at that tipping point.
- The recreational carrying capacity of Jessop has been reached or exceeded when analyzed by either the provincial Lake Alert standard or by considering the boating density.
- The applicable Lake-specific plan stipulates that development should proceed by way of re-development and prohibits new lot creation.
- SR2 zoning is not appropriate for any property surrounding this lake. SR5 zoning is the appropriate method of ensuring increased setbacks and precluding lot creation, complying with the District OP, the Huntsville OP and the Lake Plan.
Accordingly, the LWRA requests that this consent and zoning bylaw amendment be denied.
On behalf and at the direction of the Lake Waseosa Ratepayers’ Association Board of Directors,
 “2010 Lake System Health Monitoring Program Year End Report, District of Muskoka, P.25
 “Recreational Water Quality Management in Muskoka”, Gartner-Lee, 2005, Appendix 3 Sensitivity Assessment and Threshold Calculation, P.3
 “2010 Lake System Health Data Report”, District Municipality of Muskoka, P.40
 “Recreational Water Quality Management in Muskoka”, Gartner-Lee, 2005, P.42
 Review of Long-term Water Quality Data for the Lake System Health Program Sept. 2008 PP.23-24
 Muskoka Official Plan, C3
 Huntsville Official Plan, 8.13.4
 2011 LWRA Lake Plan, PP.32-33
 Muskoka Official Plan, D.21 and F.4
 2011 LWRA Lake Plan, P.36
 Muskoka Official Plan, F.23
 “Recreational Water Quality Management in Muskoka”, Gartner-Lee, 2005, P.81
 Huntsville Zoning By-law, 5.3.4
 Huntsville Official Plan 8.13.1
 Huntsville Official Plan 8.13.5
 Huntsville Official Plan 8.13.7
 Huntsville Forrester Classified Ad
 LWRA Lake Plan, 18.104.22.168