| Aug 04, 2005

Feature article, August 4, 200588

Feature article August 4, 2005

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Under the tent:Our lakes, our land, our people

by Charlie Stewart

Speaking to an audience of more than 100 people at their annual meeting on Sunday, Susan OBrien-Mactaggart, president of the Greater Bobs & Crow Lakes Association, highlighted past achievements and outlined future challenges. She recapped the associations efforts to address many areas affecting the lake environment and the quality-of-life of local stakeholders and emphasized the current initiative to develop a formal plan to preserve the lakes in the future. To aid in that effort, the association received a $71,500 grant from the Trillium Foundation. John McDougall, a member of the Trillium grant application evaluation committee, presented a plaque recognizing the grant and the outstanding work of the association. He noted the exceptional application that demonstrated widespread community involvement, showed the complete dedication of the associations volunteers and is expected to have a far-reaching impact on the area.


Mactaggart recognized volunteers who had contributed to the work in the recent past. Special note was made of the exceptional efforts of Robbie and Di Hughes. Working since 1997, they spearheaded the initiative to implement the emergency response system in the Bedford District of South Frontenac Township and supported other districts as well. In recognition of their outstanding effort, the association has arranged through the MNR to formally name a public island on the lake as Hughes Island-911.

The keynote speaker was Randy French of French Planning Services. He is the lead consultant to the associations lake planning efforts. French recapped the overall planning schedule and the progress to date. The information-gathering phase is nearing completion. Essential information has been gleaned from historical data, a stakeholder questionnaire and workshops for residents, commercial camp owners, municipal officials and representatives of governmental agencies. These identified key values and issues. The most important values were to preserve water quality and maintain water levels, enjoy peace and quiet, and preserve the natural environs and wildlife. Key concerns involved the impact of PWCs and high-powered boats, on-going development and potential sources of pollution. As the data collection phase nears completion, the emphasis is shifting to identifying actions that would address the issues and concerns. Toward that end, French emphasized the need for stakeholders to attend the workshop scheduled for Saturday, August 13 from 10 to 12:30, at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church on the Westport Road. The goal is to identify specific, achievable actions to address the concerns and preserve the lakes. The overall plan will be drafted during the winter months and coordinated with all stakeholders next spring and summer. The final lake plan will be published before the end of 2006.

Other ongoing efforts of the association support the lake planning initiative. Volunteers have been measuring water quality for more than 20 years. French noted that the data have been invaluable and show a favourable trend in overall water quality. In addition, with the aid of Heather Elliott, a student hired under the Ontario HRDC program, Joe Slater is incorporating more than 100 years of water-level data into a computerized database. This historical information will be archived in the national water-level database where it will be readily available for future analyses.

As part of its lake planning and community outreach effort, the association hosted exhibits and invited local authors and artisans to display their work in a concurrent venue entitled UNDER THE TENT: Our lakes, our land, our people. There were 35 exhibits, including displays by MAPLE, OPP, Friends of the Tay, Bedford Mining Alert, local townships and other organizations. The Bedford Volunteer Fire Department exhibited its fire response equipment and held an automobile emergency extraction demonstration.

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