To the Editor,
Editor’s note: Since this letter was received, Haliburton County council has voted to hire a consultant to draft a new shoreline protection bylaw.
In the Jan. 20 paper, Haliburton County Warden, Liz Danielsen lamented the spread of misinformation concerning the proposed shoreline bylaw. Danielsen points to the Haliburton County Home Builders Association’s estimate of $750,000 to enforce the proposed bylaw. However all the fact-checking seems to be somewhat one sided. For years the Coalition of Haliburton Property Owners Associations (CHA) has been telling a story of the impact of algae blooms with their favourite target being Three Mile Lake in Muskoka who indeed have an issue with blooms. The presentation to county council on March 27, 2019 has many references to Three Mile Lake. So is this one of those scenarios that if you tell a story frequently enough it becomes the truth? It would appear so. It has been suggested to my members of county council to have a look, that apparently has not happened. Thus we have a bylaw proposal that is essentially based on a PowerPoint presentation.
Three Mile Lake Association is a very active group, is a “Love Your Lakes” partner and actively looks for ways to safeguard its environment and members. TML had their first bloom in the fall of 2005 and they have reappeared a number of times since then, and other lakes in Muskoka have had issues as well. The common trait seems to be climate change. Very warm and windless late summers early fall seem to be the contributing factor. TML area was heavily logged in the late 1800s early 1900s. It was and still is prime agricultural land. A number of studies have been done on the lake with comparisons to another area lake that has multiple blooms and a similar history. That lake is Dickson Lake in Algonquin Park and it has no structures built on it shores. In 2006/07 a study was conducted by Dr. Patterson from the Dorset MOE. There was a slide presentation made but no follow up. The MOE wrote a 200-page report on what was happening to those lakes but have refused to release it. This despite requests by TML to all levels of governments for the data.
TML have enlisted the help of Mr. John Klinck, Chair of The District of Muskoka. Mr. Klinck has written to the Ministry of Environment requesting the release of information but to date has not received a response. Bureaucracy.
The CHA has presented information about the value of property in these areas where blooms are an issue. Loss of taxation would put most politicians into a panic. TML according to CHA’s information has property dropping in value anywhere between 30 and 50 per cent. In fact it dropped so low, according to the CHA, it impacted the mill rate for Muskoka. TML certainly has not seen reduction in their property taxes, never heard the mill rate story. According to a study done by Lakelands Real Estate Board their property values have not declined. It would appear that no one from Haliburton County thought to contact the District of Muskoka to determine if this is true or not.
There is no question that collectively we need to look for solutions to environmental problems but essentially expropriating private property is simply wrong. Personally I do not want to be under the thumb of some civil servant watching over every move. There are bylaws in place now that are not enforced to help with the situation. Both the townships and county are complicit in many of these issues. I would suggest that someone who has not just spent days on the phone with lawyers write this proposed bylaw, plain English would be nice to have. I suspect the county knows there are going to be multiple legal challenges to this if passed and that perhaps is the reason for the way it is written.
People are always willing to help, like you we care about the environment, but this is not the direction to take.
Community Action Group
Our Grandchildren Matter Too