Mandatory Boat Washing By-Law / Controling Access to the Farm Lake Boat Launch
With the May 2018 installation of the Boat Washing Station at the Municipal Hall and signage at boat launches to increase public awareness and share information about the dangers of invasive species, work turned to Phase 3 of GORA's strategy, which is to introduce measures to help ensure that all boats and trailers are washed prior to being launched in the lakes.
Without some form of controlled access to our lakes, we are defenseless against the spread of invasive species from unwashed boats of outsiders.
In terms of the boat launch at Farm Lake, at the AGM, it was unclear whether the property at the boat launch was privately owned or whether it was municipal, provincial, or federal property.
Following the 2019 AGM, we met with an official at the MRC Pontiac and we obtained a copy of the land registry for the property. As it turns out, the paved laneway from the street to the lake as well as the paved area adjacent to the lake belongs to the Municipality. Therefore, there is nothing impeding the Municipality from controlling access to the boat launch by installing a gate.
GORA was invited to discuss the issues at a Council Workshop which was held on July 29. Jennifer Quaile (GORA President) attended and gave a presentation on the importance of protecting our lakes by introducing mandatory boat washing as well as controlling access to the Farm Lake boat launch. Two other members of GORA (Stephen and Tim Desabrais) also attended to provide their expertise and advice on gating and security issues. The Workshop went well; it gave us a good opportunity to present and discuss these important issues in a more fulsome manner with Council. Overall, it was a fruitful discussion.
As a result of the Workshop, Council determined that these issues should be discussed more fully in a special committee. As a result, a committee was formed. Its members are Robin Zacharias and Carlen Lafleur (Councillors); Jennifer Quaile, Stephen Desabrais, and Helene Boulet (GORA); and Don Chenel (cottage owner on Otter Lake).
The Committee held three meetings (October, November and January) that have been quite productive. We have done a scan of practices in other jurisdictions, including means of controlling access to lakes by boat owners and by-laws that make boat washing mandatory. We also explored ways of controlling access to the Farm Lake boat launch and obtained cost estimates for automatic gate access, including those that may be linked to the boat washing station. We also discussed the importance of public awareness, communication, and signage. In addition, we had a teleconference call in early February with Blue Sea Lake officials to discuss practices in their municipality.
In February, work began to draft a by-law to introduce mandatory boat washing.
The Committee considered that given the costs of sophisticated gating systems and the lack of available provincial grants, it would be more feasible to introduce the by-law and carefully monitor compliance before taking further steps to control access to Farm Lake.
May 2020 Status:
Given the COVID-19 situation, this work has not progressed further, but is expected to continue when Municipal Council is able to resume normal business and we are able to meet again as a Committee.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank Mayor Kim Cartier-Villeneuve and Councillors, in particular, Robin Zacharias and Carlen Lafleur, for their ongoing hard work to advance GORA’s objectives. Through our collective efforts, we hope to continue making good progress towards further protecting our precious lakes.