Protection of Natural, Physical and Social Elements

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Natural Elements


            Natural elements that provide for ecological conditions in the various areas contribute to the living conditions of all species and help to sustain their way of life and their ability to function and to adapt to changing conditions.


            The following elements are part of the natural features of the areas. They are consistently under stress both from natural disasters and human development and activity. They require protection at all times by legal, educational and practical means.


1.                  Water Quality

2.                  Fish Habitats

3.                  Wetlands

4.                  Wildlife Habitats

5.                  Shorelines

6.                  Vegetation

7.                  Areas of use limitation (e.g. erosion, wetlands, steep slopes, etc.)


Physical Elements


            The following physical elements are important in determining the ability to carry out any type of development in a particular area:


1.                  The nature and characteristics of soils

2.                  The presence or absence of steep slopes


These require careful consideration in any development or change in current use.  Particular attention needs to be paid to the possibility of erosion, slope instability, vegetation protection, ground and storm water management and build-up of shoreline silt.


Social Elements


            The following elements contribute to the living conditions experienced by people living within the areas.  Some people prefer a more natural setting with buildings that blend in with the natural vegetation while others prefer larger buildings that remove natural vegetation and provide for large lawns and extensive vegetation (which must be constantly fertilized) and without proper buffer zones for shoreline protection. Development on natural lakes such as those covered by this lake plan needs to be controlled in such a way that individual land owners' decisions do not negatively impact the enjoyment of the community at large.  Broadly speaking, this would be interpreted as favouring natural vegetation and shorelines and limiting the impact of development.


1.                  Natural Beauty and Landscape

2.                  Tree Lines

3.                  Boating

4.                  Noise

5.                  Lighting

6.                  Social Activities


Development of Vulnerable Lakes and New Technologies


            New technologies for dealing with phosphorus have been proposed in recent years and are currently the subject of debate in various settings.  Though many people have suggested that, in the long term, it is possible that effective and reliable technologies will be developed to remove phosphorus from sewage waste, these methods are sufficiently controversial at this time that small over-developed vulnerable lakes like Lake Waseosa and associated lakes should not become testing grounds for them.


            Said differently, it is one thing for new technologies for capturing phosphorus to be tested on lakes with low phosphorus levels.  It is quite a different matter for technological change to be relied on - or experimented with - on a lake that is vulnerable. On a lake that is far below any important phosphorus threshold (i.e., not only not "over threshold" but which can be considered to be have a low level of phosphorus) such experimentation might be acceptable, though there seems to be no reason for those developing such technologies to do their long term planning near any lake.


            There is no turning back from the wrong decisions in the case of vulnerable lakes.


            There is, of course, another reason to exercise caution in any development of vulnerable lakes.  The ability of the Town, the District, and the Province to enforce rules or agreements with respect to development and land use is limited.  Seemingly small deviations from development rules may not make much of a difference on lakes that are less vulnerable than Lake Waseosa and associated lakes.  But on these densely developed and vulnerable lakes, development plans should be avoided where it is clear that the only possibility that they have of being "safe" is if there is complete compliance in development and in their use thereafter. No level of government these days has sufficient resources to monitor and enforce land use practices on individual properties.


Lake Density


The Official Plan of the Town of Huntsville has approached limits to lake
development in the form of minimum frontage requirements and minimum lot
size.  These are important, but it needs to be remembered that these deal with lot size, not the overall density of the lake.  The size of the lake itself as a public area - in particular its surface area - is relevant for various recreational use of the lake, just as the combination of the size of the lake and its depth (and hence the volume of the lake) is relevant for understanding the ability of the lake to absorb nutrients such as phosphorus from development on the shore.[1]


A model developed by Ministry of Natural Resources called the "Lake Alert System" sets limits on lake development by considering, among other things, the surface area of the lake (or more accurately the net usable surface area[2] of the lake) in relation to the amount of development on the lake. The underlying principle is that during the summer residents are likely to use the lake for various purposes.  Hence there is a need to consider the volume of use that the lake as a whole can sustain (e.g., for canoeing, sailing, water-skiing, swimming, etc.). Locally, this model has been adopted in the Official Plans of Magnetawan, Perry Township, Highlands East (Haliburton) and Sequin. It is under consideration for the new Official Plan for the Town of Gravenhurst and is referenced (without specific densities) in the Official Plan of Kearney.


This model takes the total surface area of the lake and subtracts from it the surface area that is within 30 metres of the shore.  For a small lake, 4 hectares per dwelling would be required, for a medium sized lake 2.4 hectares would be needed, and for a large lake, the proposal would set 1.6 hectares per dwelling as the minimum amount of usable surface area of the lake.  Obviously these limits are somewhat arbitrary "rules of thumb."  At the same time, it is easy to see that at some point any lake could become too crowded to sustain safe and pleasant recreation.


As shown in the next table, by this criterion, the four lakes covered by this lake plan are all over-developed.  These figures do not take into account the actual amount of usable surface area for boating purposes. Lake Waseosa, for example, contains three islands each of which, because of the added shoreline, reduces the amount of usable surface area for boating. 


These calculations also do not take into account the fact that one developed lot on our lake contains Camp Huronda. Camp Huronda counts as only one property but has hundreds of residents during the crucial summer months and is planning on increasing this number considerably over the next few years because of the number of diabetic children who want to attend the camp has increased over the years and the camp is the only permanent camp for diabetic children in Ontario. Furthermore, Camp Huronda provides an important opportunity for the personal development of these children by providing an environment where they can participate in the normal outdoor activities enjoyed by other children under the supervision of professionals trained to accommodate their needs. A key factor in the success of this camp is the pastoral setting of Lake Waseosa. As these children learn to sail and canoe on this relatively small lake, it is crucial to ensure that there is sufficient "space" on the lake for them. 



Table: Surface area per residence (including approved building lots)

on Lake Waseosa and associated lakes


Total surface area in hectares

Number of Properties

Number of Residential Buildings

Current total Surface area per property (in hectares)




134  (Not including island properties. Includes Camp Huronda and Factor's lodgings as one property)

135 (including Bear Island cottage and Factor's lodging but not including sleeping cabins in Camp Huronda. )



























            * Included solely because it is in the immediate watershed of Lake Waseosa


It should be noted that we have been extremely conservative and have used total surface area of each lake, not the total usable surface area (i.e., only the surface area beyond 30 metres from the lake.  Had we calculated the usable surface area, the amount of usable surface area per dwelling would be even lower than it is and even further from what is seen as the appropriate limit for development.


The conclusion that one should draw from this table is a simple one: The creating of additional dwellings on any of the lakes for which we have data would put each of these lakes even further from the minimum standard that has been proposed.  These lakes already have too much development on them in terms of the use of the surface of the lake.

Boat Density Study


Another common method of determining the lake capacity is by surface area per boat. Some authorities use an area per boat regardless of use. We have chosen a sliding scale approach that allocates less surface area for certain activities and more for others. For example, a powerboat towing a water-skier requires more space than a powerboat alone. This approach is particularly suitable for small to medium sized lakes and narrow lakes were the available space for maneuvering when towing or tacking is limited.


In 2006, the LWRA conducted a survey of lake residents on Ripple, Pallet, Jessop and Waseosa lakes with a response rate of 38%. Of the respondents, 47 property owners indicated that they own and operate at least one power craft and 18 residents indicated that they own and operate at least one sail craft. Using our respondents' boat ownership a representative sample those on the lake indicates a total of at least 124 power and 47 sail craft distributed among current owners of developed lake front lots on the four lakes.  Of the power craft, 66% of respondents indicated that they use their boats for water-skiing.


There are two assumptions made for the purpose of this study: First, that an owner will only be operating one boat of any class at any given time. It seems unlikely that a household with two power craft will have two being operated simultaneously. Second, it is assumed that no more than 10% of available craft in any given class will be operating on the lake even during peak periods.


Canoes, kayaks, peddle boats and row boats have been ignored as they generally operate within the 30 meter shore zone from which power boats are excluded. Obviously, this is a conservative assumption, since they are often seen in the middle of the lake. Similarly, there has been no allowance made for craft not owned by lake residents being operated on the lakes. As there are no public launch facilities available for craft larger than a canoe or kayak it is very unusual for outside boats to be operated on these waters.


In order to account for future load from previously approved building lots, a direct ratio of approved, undeveloped lots to existing lots was applied to the total for each lake. Lake Waseosa presents a special case as home to Camp Huronda, a camp for diabetic children. The camp's 7 sail craft were added to the projected load.


The surface area and perimeter of each lake was extracted from Ministry of Natural Resource records and the Land Information Ontario mapping system. Since powerboats are restricted to a minimum distance of 30 meters from shore and since sail boat keels are similarly restricted by depth, the average usable area was calculated using the formula [{(2*(Area/Perimeter)-30)^2}/{4*(Area/Perimeter)-60}*Perimeter]. Lake Waseosa is also home to 3 islands. The largest, ‘Treasure Island', comprises a land area of 9.26ha. The 30-meter exclusion zone was calculated and subtracted from the usable surface area. The two smaller islands were not subtracted from the area as they lie in part within 30 meters of either the mainland or ‘Treasure Island'. Similarly, boating hazards (rocks and shoals) have not been taken into account in the calculations. Those portions lying outside the 30-meter zone would have the effect of reducing net available space still further (See map - Appendix A3). The resulting area is shown as "Usable Area (EST.)" in the tables below.


Determining the required space is not an exact science. While there are several well-respected studies on the subject, their conclusions differ slightly as to the exact numbers. Four such studies are by Kusler (1972)[3], Jaakson (1989)[4], Wagner (1991)[5] and Warback (1994)[6].  An average of their findings was calculated as follows:



Power boating




























The calculations indicated a total potential load of 25 power and 10 sail craft on Palette Lake; 15 power and 6 sail craft on Ripple Lake; 14 power and 5 sail craft on Jessop Lake and 83 power and 39 sail craft on Waseosa.


Lake Name

Area (ha)

# Vacant

# Developed



# of Power

# of Sail




Perimeter (m)

Area (EST.)



Palette Lake








Ripple Lake








Waseosa Lake








Jessop Lake









Based on the survey results, power craft use was weighted between cruising and water-skiing to determine the totals. As stated, a peak loading of only 10% of these totals was multiplied by the average requirement determined above to determine a total requirement for each lake in the study.  


Lake Name


ha for

ha for

ha for



Area (EST.)



for Sailing



Palette Lake







Ripple Lake







Waseosa Lake







Jessop Lake









Palette, Ripple and Waseosa are far above capacity for boating. In fact, Palette already has twice as many boats as can safely be accommodated. The situation on Waseosa may be equally dangerous, since the children from Camp Huronda are just learning to sail and cannot be expected to have developed any great degree of proficiency during their two-week session. Of all the lakes, only Jessop appears to have some room left but it should be recognized that even one additional craft on the lake at peak times would put it over the threshold. 


These findings confirm the density calculations derived from the guidelines of the Ministry of Natural Resources: Lake Waseosa and its associated lakes are over-developed. 

[1]  It should be noted that Town officials and its consultants and District officials and its consultants have, from time to time, noted that it is advisable to move beyond using phosphorus runoff as a planning limit since it is possible that some time in the future reliable phosphorus containing septic systems will be developed.


[2] "Usable" surface area would exclude the surface within 30 metres of the shore where, for example, boating could not take place.  Hence two lakes with the same total surface area, but different shapes, could have very different usable surface areas.  For example, two 100 hectare lakes - one a perfect circle and the other a long narrow lake - would differ in usable surface area since the long narrow lake would have a substantial portion of its surface area in close proximity to the shore and therefore unavailable for boating activities such as waterskiing.

[3] Kusler, Jon A. 1972. Carrying Capacity Controls for Recreation Water Uses. Upper Great Lakes Regional Commission.


[4] Jaakson, R., M.D. Buszynski and D. Botting. 1990. Carrying capacity and lake recreation planning. The Michigan Riparian, November 1989


[5] Wagner, Kenneth J. 1991. Assessing Impacts of Motorized Watercraft on Lakes: Issues and Perceptions. Proceedings of a National Conference on Enhancing States' Lake Management Programs. Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission.


[6] Warbach, J.D., M.A. Wyckoff, G.E. Fisher, P. Johnson and G. Gruenwald. 1994. Regulating keyhole development: Carrying capacity analysis and ordinances providing lake access regulations. Planning and Zoning Center, Inc.

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