Input To Regulations
Contributing to public discussion of regulations
During 2011 and 2012, the Environment Council made submissions to the Townships surrounding the lakes regarding boathouse regulations. The Council’s main concern in this issue is the protection of shorelines, a very important factor in protecting water quality.
The following letter was sent to the four Townships in spring 2012. Since then, both Douro-Dummer Township and Smith-Ennismore-Lakefield Township have considered the issue. Douro-Dummer has not altered its boathouse standards. SEL has adopted new regulations.
for Clear, Ston(e)y and White Lakes
April 16, 2012
To: Council of the Township of ____________________
Re: Boathouse Regulations
Dear Mayor/Reeve _____________ and Council,
We have noted with concern that a group of builders and a planning consultant have approached a number of local Township Councils, as well as County Council, arguing that regulations should allow for larger boathouses.
The Environment Council for Clear, Ston(e)y and White Lakes recognizes the complexity of this issue and the many jurisdictions that are involved in some way, and we are of the view that the issue can best be dealt with through the zoning bylaws of the Townships. Our main concern is to minimize the impact of boathouses and any associated shoreline structures on the natural environment. We urge the Township to stand firm against the push for more permissive regulations regarding boathouses and other shoreline structures.
Protection of shoreland and the shallow water next to it is more important than ever, given the scientific knowledge that now exists about how essential this riparian zone or “ribbon of life” is to the survival of so many species, both in the water and on land. You will recall that preservation of natural shorelines and protection of aquatic habitat were important priorities identified by lake residents and stakeholders, including representatives of this Council, during the consultation process that led up to publication of the Clear, Ston(e)y and White Lake Plan in 2008.
This concern for the shoreline environment is also reflected in Trent-Severn Waterway policies. TSW notes the following potential impacts of boathouses:
- change of the visual character of the waterfront, with the introduction of a highly visible structure on the waterfront
- potential to affect views from neighbouring properties
- prevention of sunlight from reaching the littoral and riparian zones, thereby altering the characteristics of the ecosystem
- potential for more contaminants to leach into the water (eg. from an asphalt shingle roof ) (1)
Similarly, we are hopeful that the Township will keep in mind those objectives set out in the County of Peterborough Official Plan that address the environmental, heritage and aesthetic aspects of waterfront areas, including:
- to improve water quality …
- to ensure that the built form along the shoreline is not overly concentrated or dominating to the detriment of the natural form
- to maintain, enhance or restore the majority of the developed and undeveloped shorelines in their natural state …
- to preserve and enhance fish and wildlife habitat areas within and along waterbodies(2)
To further protect especially sensitive areas of our lakes, the Environment Council asks that the Townships consult the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) in planning and approvals matters regarding wetland areas newly designated by the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) as “Provincially Significant”. This would ensure that restrictions on building in or adjacent to significant wetlands are considered as part of the planning and approvals process.
The Environment Council conducted wetland evaluations in our tri-lake system in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 covering nearly 900 hectares of previously unevaluated wetlands. As a result of this work, a number of additional wetlands have been designated as “Provincially Significant”. Up-to-date mapping for those areas now designated has been provided to the affected Townships by MNR and further results will be provided as soon as possible.
We are also continuing our efforts to raise awareness among waterfront property owners and other interests on the lakes about the importance of protecting and restoring natural shorelines because of the key role they play in protecting water quality and in providing wildlife habitat.
In closing, the Environment Council respectfully asks, that in its consideration of boathouse regulations, the Township put protection of the natural environment first. On this issue and in other such decisions affecting the precious shared resource of our lakes and the surrounding lands, we ask that the broader community good and sustainability of the natural environment be put ahead of development interests.
Rob Little, Chair
Environment Council for Clear, Ston(e)y and White Lakes
(1) Trent-Severn Waterway, Policies for In-Water and Shoreline Works and Related Activities
(2) County of Peterborough Official Plan, Section 4.4 Shoreland Areas and the Waterfront