78 people signed in – (head count estimate approx.90) – together with 8 members of the
Board of Directors
1. OPENING REMARKS Jayne MacDonald, the President, welcomed everyone to the 25thGeneral Meeting of URLA, thanked everyone for coming and invited all to stay for the BBQ following the meeting..
She introduced the members of the URLA team : Jennifer Davis-secretary, Carol Thomas- newsletter, Murray Kane- financial, Colleen Holmes –shoreline,
Combination - Anne Carter-Community affairs-road reps., Tom Carter- membership –computer mailing lists.
There were many guests who were next introduced: Rideau Lakes Township Mayor Ron Holman and Councillors (Bob Lavoie, Ron Pollard) , MPP Steve Clark, Jane Lyster (Director Community Health Protection Department Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit). (also Councillor Rob Dunfield was seated at rear of hall)
Invited speakers Jim Mahoney from MOE, and Emily Bacon from Love Your Lake program.
Jayne also acknowledged the three past presidents of URLA who were present – Jack Cook, George Ingram and Wendy Stewart.
2. APPROVAL OF THE AGENDA. Motion: THAT THE AGENDA BE APPROVED AS PRESENTED
Moved by Don Rasmussen, seconded by Joan Duncan Motion carried
3. GUEST SPEAKERS i) Jim Mahoney - Ministry of Environment, Ontario - Supervisor Safe Drinking Water Branch Mr Mahoney (JM) outlined the history of the recent problems with the Westport sewage treatment facility. A copy of his notes is attached.
There followed an extensive question period.
a) Re a question about provincial financial assistance( Chris Fleming), JM stated that the ministry will assist in the competitive process and encourage dialogue with the relevant ministries ( Municipal Affairs and Housing as well as Ministry of Environment)
b) What caused the capacity of the lagoons to reach a dangerously high maximum, and does the ministry have the authority to ensure that this situation does not happen again? Where is the ultimate responsibility? – who are the “gatekeepers” – MOE or Westport? ( Don Rasmussen)
JM responded that although the system was designed to treat 120,000 cubic metres per annum, in practice it is not capable of processing more than 40,000 c.m. over the past three years. The ministry is involved in ensuring correct operation of the facility but so is the Village of Westport, so there are two “gate-keepers”. JM is satisfied that the new operator Dave Wallond is reliable.
c) If the system fails again, can assurance be given that the excess effluent will not be dumped into the upper Rideau Lake? (Stan Adams). JM explained that the discharge happened because of an emergency situation (berm break or overflow imminent) and that situation should not happen again. If however an emergency does arise (overflow imminent), trucking of effluent will be ordered. He also added that there are many “ifs” and many variables eg. Weather and climate change.
d) Bernard Massé from Northern Watertek explained that their company installed and operated – apparently at full capacity - the Westport Snowfluent facility until 2008 ( when Tony Coccimiglio was given the management contract). Since the recent turn of events, this company has contacted the Village of Westport, but apparently has not had any response. Although invited, no one from the village of Westport was present to comment.
e) Is the system operating in Carrabassett, Maine the same as the one in Westport? (Jack Cook) Yes, but there have been modifications to the Maine facility.
f) John Rollo expressed satisfaction that the information received at this meeting has been very good, but feels that those responsible should be listed(where?). He felt that URLA should be involved and that a motion be drafted requesting that involvement. Jayne and JM added that MOE has been very good at keeping Jayne and URLA informed.
g) Karen Saunders summarised those whom the audience had heard from, and felt that the MOE should ask the Northern Watertek company to be involved.
h) Joan Duncan strongly stated that the Township of Rideau Lakes has been very diligent in septic requirements for individual properties and that there are significant costs to the householders. However there seems to be sympathy for the village of Westport and their possibly increasing costs. She asked for assurance that the MOE would protect the Upper Rideau lake residents.
i) Wendy Stewart thanked the MOE for halting the illegal discharge of effluent and initiating the trucking program. She pointed out that Upper Rideau Lake is a Policy 2 water body which means that provincial regulation protects it from ANY discharge into the lake.
Wendy supported John Rollo’s suggestion of a motion form this meeting.( see under new business)
ii) Steve Clark MPP Leeds and Grenville Mr Clark stated that he was aware of, and very interested in the current problems in Westport. He pointed out that several ministries are involved, mentioned that Glen Murray is the current Minister of the Environment and that he (Clark) would try to speak with the minister at his earliest opportunity. He also reinforced the point that all levels of government have to be involved. He congratulated URLA for its advocacy in this issue.
Wendy Stewart asked how do the residents of Westport best put pressure on government departments; also how to recommend Northern Watertek to the Village authorities. Steve Clark stressed that it is important to keep working through the normal democratic process – writing letters, calling elected representatives etc.
Carol Thomas offered a comment on the fact that although it was stated here that the snowfluent process requires a winter temperature below minus 2 degrees C, it appears that the system did not function correctly in spite of the fact that many days this past winter were considerably colder than -2C.
iii) Emily Bacon - Queen's University Geological Engineering student working for the Centre for Sustainable Watersheds Emily outlined the Love Your Lake programme. This is a non-regulated programme offering suggestions for improving properties. Properties around the lake are photographed from the water, then owners are send a code whereby they can access a report on their property online.
iv) Mayor Holman – Rideau Lakes Township The mayor brought greetings on behalf of the council and acknowledged Councillors Lavoie and Pollard who were present. He reiterated the Townships strict environmental standards. He commented on the hard winter which strained the budgets; noted that highway 15 improvements are under way; surface treating of roads continues (noted the North Shore Road) ; digital communications for the fire departments are operating. He reported that 13 mayors and MPPs are involved along the Rideau Canal and that there are five issues which are to be presented to the minister. Their lobbying has been successful in increasing the hours of operation of the Canal this summer.
Councillor Bob Lavoie commented that the request for mandatory septic inspections report is coming before the Council next week. However there were just 60 responses from over 10,000 residents.
He reminded everyone that Council agenda items are posted on the Township web site prior to the meetings.
v) Don Rasmussen – Director of Rideau Lakes Environment Foundation Don is one of two directors on the Rideau Lakes Environmental Foundation (RLEF) Board representing URLA (the other being Anne Carter). There are 7 directors in all, five from Big Rideau Lake Association and two from URLA. The board is responsible for raising money to fund projects that enhance our environment. He made a plea for making annual donations and because it is a foundation RLEF is able to issue tax receipts for donations.
Mr. Peterson the current Chairman from BRLA spoke briefly supporting Don and stating that donations can be directed towards special projects – for example the hiring of a lawyer or an engineer if URLA needed advice in the current sewage lagoon situation.
MOTION:_THAT_THE_MINUTES_OF_THE_JULY_13'>4. MINUTES OF THE 2012 ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING The minutes were circulated prior to the meeting. There being no errors or omissions –
MOTION: THAT THE MINUTES OF THE JULY 13TH 2013 ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING BE APPROVED.
Moved by Arlene Wilkins, seconded by Jack Cook. Motion carried
5. PRESIDENT’S REPORT – Jayne MacDonald Jayne reiterated the fact that URLA was taken by complete surprise over the events in April regarding the non-functioning of the snowfluent system, and the subsequent discharge of effluent into the lake. She warned that water testing results are not instantaneous. Trends often need to be followed for several years. Upper Rideau lake typically has high phosphorus counts but not does not have consistently high bacterial counts.
Jayne then reported on the continuing volunteer water testing programme. Samples are taken form 3 sites – Mulville, McNally and Kanes Bays – for total phosphorus (TP), water temperature and clarity. The RVCA has a Watershed Watch programme where testing takes place in various sites for E. coli, TP, clarity and Nitrogen. The Public Health unit conducts weekly tests for bacterial counts, at the only public beach on the lake at Foley Mountain, and these results are posted on the Leeds and Grenville web site on Fridays.
URLA is part of a working group with RVCA and the Friends of the Tay in the Carleton University study -People, Aquatic Plants and Healthy Lakes: Finding the balance in Eastern Ontario’s Lake Country.This project was recently successful in obtaining a Trillium Grant.
Another association that URLA is part of is the Rideau Lakes Networking Group – a group in the Rideau Lakes Township that shares common concerns.
6 FINANCIAL REPORT (attached) – Murray Kane Murray presented the financial report as prepared by Cross and Co.
MOTION ; THAT THE FINANCIAL REPORT BE ADOPTED AS SUBMITTED
Moved by Wendy Stewart, seconded by Jack Cook Motion carried
7. APPOINTMENT OF AUDITORS Murray expressed thanks to Cross and Co. for the preparation of the financial statements.
MOTION: THAT THE FIRM OF CROSS AND COMPANY BE APPOINTED TO
PREPARE THE FINANCIAL STATEMENTS FOR THE YEAR 2014-2015
Moved by Murray Kane, seconded by Brian Wilkinson Motion carried
Colleen reported that there had been a good response to the Shrub Distribution project again which is sponsored by the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority. Approximately 700 plants were distributed, and it is estimated that over 4000 shrubs and trees have been planted over the past few years. RVCA covered 75% of the cost this year, and URLA contributed 25%.
iii) Community Affairs and Membership – Anne Carter
Anne updated her progress in assembling a list of road reps. to collect names of property owners along with correct mailing and e-mail addresses. She appealed for, and received, some reps. for a few areas which had none.
Anne pointed out that around 100 lake residents are members of URLA from a total of close to 500 properties. The fee of $30 has remained the same for some years and it was suggested that this continue to be so, but that people be encouraged to contribute to RLEF for which they will receive a tax receipt (Joan Duncan). Suggestions were welcomed as to how to reach out to other lake residents – eg. sending out a separate membership renewal form instead of inserting it with the newsletter; requests have also been received to pay membership electronically. Carol has done some preliminary investigations about using Pay Pal, or electronic banking.
9. ELECTION OF OFFICERS Wendy Stewart, Past President, presented the slate of officers for 2014-2015.
All of the current directors offered to remain in their positions for the coming year. Bob Branson has been recruited and there was one nomination from the floor – Diana Kemp. These people will serve as Members-at -large
There were no further nominations.
MOTION: THAT THE SLATE OF OFFICERS FOR THE EXECUTIVE OF URLA
FOR THE YEAR 2014-2015 BE ACCEPTED AS PRESENTED
Moved by Wendy Stewart, seconded by George Ingram Motion carried
10. NEW BUSINESS As the Westport sewage treatment facility is of great concern at present, it was felt that a motion of intent was needed from this meeting.
Motion: That URLA make representation in the public participation process of the Environmental Assessment for the Village of Westport sewage lagoon, advocating a zero discharge into the Upper Rideau Lake, and that position be communicated to the Village of Westport and the relevant Provincial Ministries.
Moved by John Rollo, seconded by Wendy Stewart Motion carried
11. CLOSING REMARKS AND ADJOURNMENT. In closing Jayne called upon Chris Fleming to pay tribute to the recently deceased Patrick McManus who was such a strong supporter of the Rideau Canal system and URLA. He will be missed by many.
Jayne assured those present that URLA will stay on top of the lagoon issue and continue to advocate for zero discharge into the lake. She then had many thanks –
The Cove-meetings- coffee /service
Kingston internet (WTC)-website
Cross Street & Company-financial
Westport Village Rental -Storage space
Although we are a small organization we have many volunteers :.
Collectors of water samples who mail them away, and measure water clarity