Water Safety Warning 

Watershed Conditions Statement – Water Safety Warning

The MNRF has put a Water Conditions Statement – Water Safety warning in effect for the Bracebridge Minden Parry Sound District. This will be in effect until Friday March 17, 2023. Residence in these areas should exercise caution while around waterbodies and maintain close supervision of children due to changing water levels and ice conditions.

The MNRF also advises extreme caution when using forest access roads for outdoor activities as they may become seasonally inundated with water, are prone to washouts and may become impassible due to localized flooding.

See Bulletin Here

Photo of - Complete Fire Ban for Carling Township and West Parry Sound

Complete Fire Ban for Carling Township and West Parry Sound

Just a reminder that the Ministry of Natural Resources and Fire (MNRF) has put the West Parry Sound Area under a Restricted Fire Zone and the Township has set the Fire Danger Rating at Extreme. Fires / Fireworks of any kind are not permitted and may result in fines from both the Township and the MNRF. Click here for more information on restricted fire zones    

Photo of - Roads that Work for Wildlife

Roads that Work for Wildlife

Repost From Georgian Bay Biosphere November 4, 2022   Work has begun on a three-year project to evaluate the effectiveness of an innovative road mitigation design for the protection of reptile species at risk from road mortality. Led by Georgian Bay Mnidoo Gamii Biosphere (GBB) and in partnership with Carling Township, Laurentian University and Killbear Provincial Park, this project aims to: Fill in knowledge gaps on barrier fence designs Evaluate how this fencing performs under standard road maintenance and weather Update roads best management practices for species at risk management practices Daily road mortality surveys conducted by GBB in 2020 and 2021 helped determine reptile “hot-spots” on Conservation Drive in Carling Township where mitigation efforts could be focused to reduce species mortality. Because the road was historically built through a provincially significant wetland, wildlife uses the road to access the habitat on the other side, leading them to interact with vehicles. This October, the installation of unique exclusion fencing along the roadway on Conservation Drive commenced. This fencing will lead reptiles (and other wildlife, including fish!) to four culverts that will act as safe eco-passages, connecting both sides of the wetland. “Through discussions with public works departments and First Nations communities, we realized that there were some barriers to traditional fencing that stands vertically with relation to road maintenance or removing access to traditional hunting lands,” says Tianna Burke, Lands and Wildlife Programs Manager. “Concave fencing has the potential to better accommodate road maintenance activities such as mowing and snow plowing, and accommodate more porous areas like access points and driveways without trapping species on the road. The curved feature of this design allows it to sit relatively at-grade with the road, aiming to impede some of our more agile reptiles, such as foxsnakes, from being able to climb, improving maintenance ability, and not creating a visual barrier.” Beginning 2023, a graduate student from Laurentian University will work with GBB on evaluating design effectiveness.  This will include determining: If the mitigation effectively reduced mortality at the identified hotspots through road surveys Fence effectiveness at directing reptiles towards safe eco-passages Reptile usage of eco-passages and what other wildlife may be using them Maintenance needs, structural durability, and performance of structure over time, including the effects of freeze-thaw cycles, and public works activities The long-term goal is to use this project’s findings to further develop and implement best management practices that are more specific to the eastern Georgian Bay landscape than what current practices provide. Similarly, provide best management practices that are effective ecologically, while also making implementation easier for public works departments. “With funding for conservation action being limited, it is important to test innovative and cost-effective designs to reduce reptile road mortality. If we can implement effective and inexpensive solutions, that will be a win for all stakeholders, especially the snakes!” says Dr. Jackie Litzgus, Laurentian University Biology Professor. Study results will be shared with various levels of government for future opportunities to apply it on the landscape, to help reduce road threats to reptiles and helping their populations. We thank Ganawenim Meshkiki, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and Township of Carling for their financial and on-the-ground support of this project, and Dr. Jackie Litzgus from Laurentian University and Killbear Provincial Park for their expertise and knowledge. Chi-miigwech for support from Wasauksing First Nation and Shawanaga First Nation whose traditional lands this project is taking place on.

Photo of - Floating 'Homes' NOT 'Vessels' Designation - Support is Needed

Floating ‘Homes’ NOT ‘Vessels’ Designation – Support is Needed

Gloucester Pool Cottage Association (GPCA) in the Port Severn area has established a coalition to regulate the growing number of floating homes in Ontario waters. They are seeking the support of the many associations up and down the Bay for their members to join a campaign to regulate the growing presence of these float homes. Because these floating 'homes' are presently categorized as vessels, that "designation allows the float homes to avoid building code, environmental, navigational, and safety regulations as well as taxation and location management." GPCA, with strong support from GBA, is asking each of us to join their campaign to heighten awareness of Transport Canada for the need to redesignate the vessels as homes. Read below to learn how to add your voice. There are two components to this campaign. This first initiative is a letter-writing campaign by all association members to the Minister of Transport requesting the Ministry rescind the designation of float homes as 'vessels'. GBA strongly supports and encourages everyone to send in their own letter as described below. To facilitate the process, here is a master link to a website to the Float Homes not Vessels Minister Letter & Instructions to Complete There are two links within the master link: The first link is to the letter to the Minister of Transport; the second link is to view instructions to successfully send the letter to the Minister of Transport. Shortly, a second campaign initiative will be the completion of a petition to the Minister of Transport. Petitions require a response from the Minister to the petition's signatories. More details will be provided at a later date. GBA is endorsing this initiative wholeheartedly, and given limited available resources at the GBA, is deferring to the GPCA to rally support up and down the Bay! Please consider sending in your letter today.

Photo of - Reptile Conservation in Carling Township: Partnering to Protect Species-at-Risk Reptiles on Conservation Drive

Reptile Conservation in Carling Township: Partnering to Protect Species-at-Risk Reptiles on Conservation Drive

  Conservation Drive Newsletter_GENERAL ROAD_May2023

Photo of - Ontario wants to ban cottage country 'floating homes' made from shipping containers

Ontario wants to ban cottage country ‘floating homes’ made from shipping containers

Cottagers doubt proposed rule changes will have significant impact Mike Crawley · CBC News · Posted: Apr 08, 2023 4:00 AM EDT  A floating home made of two shipping containers is docked at a marina in Port Severn. The province is proposing to ban such floating accommodations from overnight stays on water over public land, which includes the beds of most lakes and rivers in Ontario. (Lotb.ca) The Doug Ford government is aiming to slap restrictions on floating homes that are provoking controversy in Ontario's cottage country. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry cites "an increase in the number and types of structures and things being used for overnight accommodation on Ontario's lakes and rivers" as the reason behind proposed rule changes. The changes would ban what the province describes as "float homes" and "barges with residential units" from overnight stays on water over public land, which includes the beds of most lakes and rivers in Ontario. During consultations on the issue, the ministry received feedback that suggested the current rules for overnight accommodation on water are too permissive. Graydon Smith, Ontario's minister of natural resources, said in an interview that the intent of the proposal is to restrict large floating homes that are "outside the scope" of the boats typically seen on the province's lakes and rivers. "We want to get it right," said Smith. "I do believe we're on the right path." Graydon Smith, Ontario's minister of natural resources and forestry, represents the cottage country riding of Parry Sound-Muskoka. (Evan Mitsui/CBC) CBC News has previously reported on how cottagers and municipalities have raised concerns about shipping containers converted into floating accommodations on lakes in the Muskoka region. Officials say the converted shipping containers are the chief target of the proposed regulation. Why this shipping container home is making waves in Ontario cottage country "The one thing we don't want to be doing is ensnaring the traditional boating, cruising, sailing vessels that are a big part of Ontario and our tourism economy," said Smith. Transport Canada defines floating homes as vessels What's unclear is whether the proposed ban would succeed in restricting the floating shipping container homes. That's because Transport Canada has designated floating homes as vessels, which gives them the same rights as houseboats, motorboats or sailboats to anchor overnight in public navigable waters. Transport Canada said in a statement that floating accommodations "are considered vessels — just like barges." The province's proposed ban on floating accommodations defines them as "house-like structures incorporating a floatation system, intended for ... residential or longer-term purposes and not primarily intended for, or usable in, navigation." Joe Nimens lives in cottage country year-round in a floating home constructed from a pair of 16-metre-long shipping containers, and is building six more for clients. "Business is booming," Nimens said in an interview from his floating home, docked at a marina in Port Severn, about 150 kilometres north of Toronto. "The one that we started first will be going in the water in the next few weeks." Joe Nimens is pictured inside the floating home he built from two shipping containers. (CBC News) Nimens says he suspects his floating homes are the province's target. "I believe that they're trying to discourage us from doing what we're doing, but I don't see any way that the proposed regulation would affect us," he said. Ontario lakeside towns push to regulate short-term rentals to preserve their way of life "Boats come in all kinds of sizes and shapes," said Nimens. "I don't have any idea what distinction [the province has] in mind between a floating accommodation and a vessel." Cottage owner calls move 'a lot of hand-waving' Nimens' critics also doubt the province's proposed ban on floating homes will shut him down. "We really feel that these measures are meaningless," said Cheryl Elliot-Fraser, president of the Gloucester Pool Cottagers' Association, representing about 400 cottage owners on the large body of water that extends northeast from Port Severn. Cheryl Elliot-Fraser is president of the Gloucester Pool Cottagers' Association. (Alexis Raymon/CBC News) "We think (the Ministry of Natural Resources) is doing a lot of hand-waving," said Claude Ricks, another member of the cottagers' association. "They truly don't understand the vessel designation trumps all." Township of Georgian Bay Mayor Peter Koetsier says he applauds the provincial government for doing what it can about the issue. Shorelines 'not a backyard swimming pool,' lakefront landowners reminded "I do appreciate the fact that they are recognizing that these floating accommodations, floating homes, whatever you like to call them, are not properly covered in the rules and regulations that currently exist,'" said Koetsier. While Koetsier said the province's proposed changes are part of the solution, he believes there will still be confusion over how they can operate unless Transport Canada changes its designation.

Photo of - DEADLINE EXTENDED: Underused Housing Tax Form for Non-Canadian Property Owners

DEADLINE EXTENDED: Underused Housing Tax Form for Non-Canadian Property Owners

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has effectively extended the filing deadline for the Underused Housing Tax (UHT) to October 31, 2023. All non-Canadian property owners are required to submit a UHT tax form annually, even if their property is exempt from the tax. In an effort to provide more time for affected owners to comply, the CRA's application of penalties and interest will be waived provided the return is filed by October 31, 2023. This transitional relief means that although the deadline for filing the UHT return and paying the UHT payable remains April 30, 2023, no penalties or interest will be applied for UHT returns that the CRA receives before November 1, 2023. This web post is intended for general information purposes only. While we have attempted to provide information that is helpful for our readers, we do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice and accepts no legal liability for the contents of this web post. Ensure you check original sources for additional details and updates. For advice regarding your personal taxation and filing needs, please contact your own tax professional or accounting advisor.

Photo of - Have Your Say: Proposed Changes for Floating Cottages

Have Your Say: Proposed Changes for Floating Cottages

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) is asking for your feedback on proposed changes to how floating cottages may be used on Ontario waterways and proposed limits on where and how long you can camp on the water. These changes are intended to reduce the environmental and social impacts of floating accommodations which GBA’s Floating Cottages Strategy Group has been working toward over the past year. MNRF is proposing to amend the Public Lands Act with regards to camping on water over public lands. The proposed changes include: reducing the number of days that a person can camp on water at one location in each calendar year from 21 days to seven days; increasing the distance that a camping unit on water must move to a different location from 100 metres to 1 kilometre; prohibiting camping on water within 300 metres of a developed shoreline, including any waterfront structure, dock, boathouse, erosion control structure, altered shoreline, boat launch and/or fill; clarifying the types of camping units that can be used on water by allowing watercrafts equipped for overnight accommodation (live-aboards and houseboats), but excluding floating homes or barges with residential units or camping facilities These changes would not apply to a person exercising rights that are protected by Aboriginal or treaty rights. Feedback on the above changes is requested by April 11, 2023. MNRF’s full proposal and details on how to comment can be found here. GBA has developed the following comment which can be inserted at this link, should you wish: I support the proposals to amend Ontario Regulation 161/17 (O. Reg. 161/17) under the Public Lands Act described in ERO 019-6590 posted by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry on February 24, 2023. The key proposed amendments relating to preventing floating accommodation units from camping on water over public lands will reduce the environmental and social impacts of floating accommodations and help to ensure that floating accommodation units can be appropriately regulated to: Reduce the potential environmental impacts, such as disposal of black/grey water and garbage, and lower the spread of plastics pollution from the use of unencapsulated dock foam for flotation Reduce the safety issues for those on board these units, which have poor navigability and are unstable in high winds/waves Keep these floating accommodation units safely moored at shoreline locations, where they can benefit from services such as water, sewage, hydro and garbage disposal Create the potential for municipalities to apply taxes to these accommodation units to pay for the services provided   You can find full information on GBA’s involvement in the floating cottages issue here.

Photo of - “Parry Sound 33” by Joseph Hartman Currently on Display in Toronto

“Parry Sound 33” by Joseph Hartman Currently on Display in Toronto

The Stephen Bulger Gallery in Toronto is presenting “Parry Sound 33”, an exhibit by photographer Joseph Hartman. The exhibit is a series of landscape photographs and watercolour paintings documenting the aftermath of the Parry Sound 33 forest fire on the Henvey Inlet which began on July 18, 2018. The fire devastated over 11,000 hectares of ecologically important Georgian Bay coastal habitat along with several cottages and homes. GBA worked with Dave Seglins of the CBC and Jean Burke, who represented local victims, for several years to compel the MNRF to release the fire investigation report, but our efforts were  struck down by an independent adjudicator last spring. This exhibit examines how humans can rapidly change a fragile landscape and the effects this has on the ecosystem and the community. The exhibition runs from March 4 – April 22, 2023 at the Stephen Bulger Gallery in Toronto. Get the details here.

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