What of the Future?
Throughout this Lake Plan a number of matters affecting the Muskoka lakes and more particularly the Huntsville area have been identified and highlighted.
These matters should be of concern to all lake associations, particularly those of the smaller inland lakes since the smaller lakes have certain characteristics that differ from the larger lakes. Among other things, they may be spring fed, with lower or non-existent flushing capabilities and they often have shallower depths.
The following are important goals that should inform the use of lake waterfront and watershed areas:
1. Protection of water quality.
2. Maintenance of natural shorelines by providing a natural vegetative buffer.
3. Protection of wetlands.
4. Protection of natural landscapes and tree lines.
5. Maintenance of fish and other natural habitats.
6. Controlling property development in a consistent manner.
7. Encouraging property owners to follow proper boating practices and manners.
8. Ensuring that the lakes are not over-developed.
The above areas of concern have arisen as a result of a number of the following factors, some of which are difficult to control or to remedy.
1. Natural weather cycles such as rainfall, storms, temperature variations (e.g., unusually hot summers which can make lakes more vulnerable to the effects of development), and invasive plant, water or insect species;
2. Human activities such as
a. boating which could cause shoreline erosion, pollution and noise problems;
b. landscaping such as lawn creation and fertilization causing lake pollution;
3. Redevelopment, which could take the form of the renovation and upgrading of existing dwellings, for the purpose of an increased seasonal or full time use, which could cause added stress to a lake by reason of increased usage.
4. New development, which includes the creation of new lots and the construction of new buildings, which on smaller lakes could cause many unanticipated problems.
Recommendations for the Protection of Our Lakes
It should be noted that this Lake Plan has focused to some extent on Lake Waseosa since this lake is the largest of the lakes in the area. The other four lakes referred to in this Plan surround it. It is clear, however, that the four lakes covered by this plan face similar issues. The lakes are connected; hence water quality issues in any lake affect and/or are affected by the water quality in the other lakes.
It is recommended that the following corrective measures be implemented as follows:
The Town of Huntsville should ensure, through its planning, by-law, and enforcement processes:
1. That a series of procedures be put in place that will protect all waterfront and watershed residential zoning and development areas with particular emphasis on the following:
a. establishing minimum lot frontage;
b. establishing maximum residential lot coverage;
c. setting limits on dock and boathouse width and conscientiously enforcing those limits;
d. requiring detailed site plan controls for all development of any existing or proposed housing lot prior to any approval of any development on lakes;
e. establishing competent, professional ongoing and periodic septic system inspection program for all lakes and ensuring that defective septic systems are repaired or replaced within a defined period of time.
f. establishing effective enforcement mechanisms that ensure that defective septic systems are replaced.
g. establishing a development permit system that is policed effectively.
h. limiting the density and scale of future development to ensure that the Huntsville lakes maintain their recreational and scenic value.
i. establishing, conjunction with the District of Muskoka, a water testing methodology of an independent nature to measure water quality (including, obviously, phosphorus levels) of all 5 lakes with the goal of developing appropriate controls and mechanisms to restore the health of any lakes that are vulnerable.
j. requiring a Site Evaluation Plan for all development on Huntsville's lakes;
k. developing standards and controls for storm water mitigation.
l. requiring detailed enforceable development plans at the preliminary stage of any proposed land use change.
2. That there is adequate protection of the lakes' natural features and in particular their water quality, wetlands, fish habitats and wildlife areas and natural vegetation.
3. That additional protection of the physical elements of the land surrounding lakes be ensured by such methods as the following:
a. The establishment of erosion controls to eliminate the negative impact of storm water sediment during and after construction.
b. The control of development on steep slopes in order to prevent any alteration of the natural topography and to prevent any erosion which could cause slope instability and damage to fish and wildlife habitats as well as increasing storm water runoff.
c. The promotion, development, and enforcement of a program of shoreline vegetation and re-vegetation areas with appropriate buffer areas next to lakes and waterways
d. The encouraging of a stewardship and monitoring program involving the lake associations and residents of the lakes, with the support and aid of the Town and District, to deal with the water quality and long term health of the lakes
The District of Muskoka should:
1. Develop a schedule for comprehensive and continuing study of the water quality of all of the lakes.
The LWRA, through an ongoing educational and communication program, should:
- Encourage social and recreational activities.
The "Fun Day" and "Corn Roast" are two very important parts of the entire lake experience for most families. They provide social interaction between neighbours and foster the spirit of fraternity and cooperation within the community. Such events should always be an important function of the LWRA.
- Foster existing and new avenues of communication.
- The membership committee is to make initial contact with all new residents in the area, and distribute a â€˜Welcome Wagon' style information package to introduce new neighbours to our efforts and ideals.
- Investigate the feasibility of establishing an LWRA web site for the dissemination of information of interest to our members including educational material, notifications, newsletter archives, this Lake Plan and like materials.
- Find innovative and environmentally friendly methods of distributing bulky materials to those without internet access.
- Help shoreline residents to understand the impacts of replacing natural shoreline vegetation with urban style lawns and shoreline break walls. Look for opportunities to promote and distribute information on shoreline protection and/or undertake projects to re-naturalize altered shorelines. Encourage residential property owners to re-naturalize their shoreline properties. The LWRA can act as a conduit to share information from such sources as the Muskoka Heritage Foundation.
- Increase the resident's awareness of the watershed. Through the use of maps and other tools, clarify for members how these headwater lakes interact both with each other and with the greater systems that they feed.
- Promote further improvements in septic system performance
a. Many seasonal residents and renters come from areas that enjoy municipal sewage treatment systems and are therefore unfamiliar with septic system maintenance. The LWRA can act as a central repository of information related to the proper care and feeding of a septic system.
b. The LWRA should continue to coordinate efforts with the Town of Huntsville to ensure timely re-inspection services are available to our members.
- Promote a â€˜low-phosphorous' lifestyle. By maintaining a database of phosphorous-free products and encouraging an awareness of activities that may release phosphorous to the lake, we can help reduce the human footprint on water quality.
- Facilitate responsible boating.
a. By 2009, all powerboat operators will require a license. A knowledge of general rules of the water, navigation aids, first aid and safety equipment is necessary to pass the required test. The LWRA should investigate ways it can facilitate this process for it's members such as distributing the Canadian Coast Guard's "Boater's Handbook", and arranging or documenting test days by accredited organizations.
b. Boats also require licensing. The LWRA can disseminate contact information and requirements for licensing of boats.
c. On small landlocked lakes such as these, the primary vector for invasive species is boats. Those who transport their watercraft overland between lake systems should be taught how to properly disinfect their equipment to prevent invaders from entering our waters.
- Monitor lake health through benthic, invasive species and water quality testing.
a. The LWRA should continue to participate in the "Lake Partner" program.
b. The person appointed Lake Steward shall coordinate the efforts of the many volunteers involved in environmental sampling.
9. Conduct annual review of the lake plan. A committee of residents should review the overall status and report to the Directors.
10. Directors shall continually review and update tasks required to implement the plan.
It is understood, however, that the ability of the LWRA to ensure compliance with "best practices" by those on the lakes is limited by the fact that the Association is a volunteer organization with very limited resources. In addition, of course, the LWRA does not have the power to enforce best practices or by-law compliance. The Association does, however, undertake to work with the Town of Huntsville in ensuring the health of the lakes covered by this plan.
Lake-Specific Recommendations for Lake Waseosa and its associated lakes.
This Lake Plan also makes the following additional recommendations with respect to the lakes covered by this lake plan.
- Since Lake Waseosa is an "over threshold" or "at capacity" lake, with respect to phosphorus content, and since all of the lakes covered by this plan (Waseosa, Palette, Ripple, Jessop) are, by objective calculation of available surface area, over-developed, there shall be no further residential or other development on this lake except where there are already legally sanctioned lots which are capable of being developed. Specifically, of course, this means that there should be no additional lots created on any of these four lakes. It should be noted that with respect to "over threshold" lakes, the District's 2005 "Lake Health" plan suggests that municipalities should be given the option of creating a policy that forbids the creation of new lots. With respect to Lake Waseosa, this option should be adopted and made part of the official plan. While water quality data is incomplete for the remaining four lakes, they should be treated in a similar manner for two reasons: one of the lakes forms part of the Waseosa watershed (and hence contributes to its phosphorus level). The other lakes are inter-connected and are over-developed.
- In the case of those lots that are legally sanctioned and currently are undeveloped, or in the case of lots on which owners wish to make changes to existing dwellings, a system of controlled measures should be instituted by the Town of Huntsville which would require site plan controls, development permits, site plan evaluations, vegetation protection (particularly along shorelines), detailed building permits, properly designed and enhanced septic tank and tile bed systems and storm water management plans, which would prevent the increase of phosphorus and other pollutants in the lake.