Council hears about invasive species in MV waterways, Mayor condemns Beer Store closure

Representatives from three of the area’s four lake associations presented a joint delegation to Council: Greg Zdzienicki of Kamaniskeg and Area Property Owners Association (KAPOA); Sophia Sudnikowicz of Kaszuby Cottagers Association (KCA); and Wendy Wolak of Carson Trout Lepine & Greenan Lakes Association (CTLG Lakes). Steve Clarke of the Paugh Lake Association was absent and sent his regrets. Above from left: Greg Zdzienicki (KAPOA), Sophia Sudnikowicz (KCA), Wendy Wolak (CTLG Lakes) present to Council on May 22, 2024. Photo: YouTube/Madawaska Valley.

Wendy Wolak opened their presentation with a brief history of CTLG Lakes and its members’ voluntary activities in its eight year history. These focus on water quality with readings and tests to establish a chemical profile and baseline of the four interconnected lakes (a trout fishery, they are all part of the Madawaska River watershed, and connect with Kamaniskeg Lake via Carson Creek). In 2018 CTLG Lakes worked with Watersheds Canada to assess and provide individual reports to property owners to encourage naturalized shorelines that act as a buffer to keep toxins out of the water. Some CTLG Lakes members are trained to monitor and remove some Invasive Species (see photo). Wolak stressed the importance of Clean Boat regulations (law since 2022) in controlling invasive species. She pointed out that so far this year CTLG Lakes has collected more than 14 pounds of lead fishing gear in their Get The Lead Out! campaign, lead tackle being the predominant cause of loon deaths. Wolak concluded her presentation with a request that MV Council establish a Standing Committee responsible for the municipality’s waterways, with an emphasis on water quality.

Invasive Species confirmed in MV (above from left): Banded Mystery Snail (native of Florida), Spiny Waterflea (native of Eurasia), Wild Parsnip (along Arbor Vitae Road), Phragmites australis (on Siberia and Matcheski Roads). CTLG Lakes members removed 800 Banded Mystery Snails last year, mostly from Trout Lake. Photo submitted.

Sophia Sudnikowicz told Council that since it was formed in 1968, KCA’s overriding belief has been “We do not inherit land from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” She said their constitution was updated in 1995 with the objective of pooling resources to maintain effective contact with the local municipality and other agencies for quality cottage life. KCA members are from Kuaick Lake (which is motor free), Dam Lake, Wadsworth Lake, Frank Lake, and Halfway Long Lake, Unlike CTLG Lakes, these lakes arae not interconnected but KCA does conduct water testing and provides its members with a list of Dos and Don’ts for Cottages. Their focus is on current contentious issues (outdoor altar project; boat speeding, carelessness, rule violations; noise, especially fireworks; and invasive species).

Greg Zdzienicki of KAPOA pointed out that their association had members in Hastings Highlands as well as Madawaska Valley. While they are the largest of the four associations in the area with approximately 250 members, they suffer the same challenges of attracting new members and finding younger people for executive positions. KAPOA has even begun a “director mentoring” program. While all three associations represented at the meeting are members of the Federation of Ontario Cottagers Associations, KAPOA received an Achievement Award in 2023. Zdzienicki mentioned the popular yearly Regatta run by KAPOA and proudly pointed to their annual Poker Run which exceeded its target in 2023 by raising $37,400 for the St. Francis Valley Healthcare Foundation.

Each of the lake associations encountered similar challenges in attracting new members, and especially encouraging younger people to volunteer on committees.

Mayor Willmer thanked the delegation saying that Council appreciated the lake associations’ work on water quality and said that the Invasive Species issue alone is so important. “As Wendy Wolak said they [our waterways] are our biggest natural resource and we have to take care of them. You people and  your organizations are doing a very good job of looking after them for us.”

During the ensuing discussion, rather than establishing a standing Committee of Council for waterways issues, CAO Klatt and most members of Council said they preferred that lake associations attend future Council meetings as delegations – possibly twice a year – and encouraged them to return with updates. They indicated a willingness to establish an ad hoc committee should a specific issue arise. Only Councillor David Shulist agreed with Wolak’s request for a Standing Committee. Referring to the liaison between Council and lake associations, he told Wolak, “Waterways are our greatest asset, but now I feel you are the asset.”

Lake associations respond

The Current reached out to the association representatives for their comments after the meeting. Zdzienicki of KAPOA said, “I thought Council was very open to our comments and it was a good opportunity to speak with them.”

Wolak of CTLG Lakes said, “I admit I am personally disappointed about their decision regarding a committee, but this is our first time coming before Council. I am pleased that they are now aware of what our lake association does and the existence of invasive species, in and around Trout Lake, is a start.

Sudnikowicz of KCA said, “Over the years, the KCA has always had a relationship with the mayor and Council (invitations to speak/answer questions at our AGMs). It was good to go before Council representing more than just one cottage/property owner association, demonstrating to Council that, even though each group has different as well as similar issues, we came together and can work with MV Township to help resolve some of these cross cutting issues (or at least bring them to Council’s attention). I looked at this delegation presentation as first “baby steps” towards creating a vital link (whatever form it will take) to the Township.”

Mayor addresses Beer Store closure, volunteer appreciation

Mayor Mark Willmer opened the Madawaska Valley Council Regular Meeting on May 23rd with a Mayor’s Address that expressed his extreme disappointment with the decision to close the Beer Store in Barry’s Bay. He said, “This is a huge loss to the village’s core as many people stop here on the way to Algonquin Park or other places, not only to stock up with beer but also buy groceries, perhaps dine at a local restaurant, or visit the pharmacy along with many other stores. With the closing of the store, this will be lost. So I urge the Beer Store to reconsider their decision and remain in Barry’s Bay either in their present location or an alternative one within the village.” He asked CAO Suzanne Klatt to write to the Beer Store owners explaining the adverse economic impact their decision has on the municipality.

Willmer reminded residents that volunteers are recognized during May. He thanked the many helpers at recent popular events in Combermere, Wilno and Barry’s Bay saying their work is greatly appreciated and that the Township’s Volunteer Barbecue in June is just a small measure to show appreciation for their efforts.

Manager of Planning and Development quizzed about notice process

After asking about the Township’s current practices for publicizing notices of planning applications, Councillor Shelley Maika told Luke Desjardins, MV Manager of Planning and Development, that she thought he should revert to the practice of putting planning notices in local newspapers. Desjardins pointed out that he was following the requirements of the Planning Act, but Maika persisted. After other members of Council as well as CAO Klatt had weighed in, the Mayor said he felt that because there was no cost to the Township (the applicant bears any advertising costs), it was “good to try to cover as many media choices as we can. It never hurts to overdo it rather than to not publicize something enough.”

Anti-PRIDE letter received without comment

A letter from March and re-submitted from resident Rae Stanley in opposition to any display of flags or other support during the Pride month of June was included on Tuesday’s meeting agenda. The letter pointed to a 2023 petition of “over 500 people” who opposed the Township displaying the Pride flag during June. It may be that Ms. Stanley hoped Council would discuss the matter again this year, but instead her letter was grouped with other correspondence that triggered no questions or comments from members of Council, and they were all “accepted as information.”

One comment

  1. Eve-Marie Chamot

    geographical correction:- Kuiack Lake flows into either Dam Lake or Wadsworth Lake while Dam Lake flows into Halfway-Long Lake and Wadsworh Lake flows into Franks Lake which flows into Halfway-Long Lake which in turn flows into lower Kamaniskeg Lake-Madawaska River via Rockingham Creek (formerly Byers Creek). There is also apparently a dam at the outlet of Halfway-Long Lake which has raised the water level significantly since the 1970s and esssentially created Franks Lake (which used to be a big swamp 50+ years ago). Halfway-Long Lake apparently was originally named “Long Lake” by the Crown surveyors ca 1855 and cottagers entering off Hwy 60 via Long Lake Rd call it that but when they established the Old Barry’s Bay Road in the late 19th century travellers long it would also refer to it as “Halfway Lake” because it’s almost exactly halfway between Combermere and Barry’s Bay.

    Too bad no one discussed the missing native species:- freshwater clams and various frogs and garter snakes and the light beetles and the whip-poor-will. Young people have become disinterested in wilderness recreation in general as evidenced by their loss of interest in camping and canoeing in Algonquin Park since the 1970s and the Internet seems to be the big competitor for their interest. If there could be better high-speed Internet access to cottages then this would attract them back. Keep in mind also that young people do not relish commuting 350 km from Toronto on weekends to and from a cottage in this area:- the younger generation sees this as masochism! One possibility would be for retired city people to relocate permanently to their winterized cottages with Internet access and have grandchildren stay for the summers with them or even year-round and attend local schools.

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