The Coalition of Haliburton Property Owners Associations’ is pushing for a bylaw to protect lakes across the county.

Paul McInnes, the Chair of CHA, met with the county councillors today to go over what he called “stark choices” to do with lake water health.

Although there were only two instances of algae blooms across the county last year, McInnes wants action to be taken before it’s too late. He said that through his time advocating for lake health, he had spoken to two experts who both explained that by the time you know there is a concern the time for action had passed.

What McInnes and his fellow CHA members were advocating for was a bylaw that stops people from removing nature as far back as 30 metres from the shore.

According to McInnes, the trees and plants and other deep-rooted things along the shore reduce the amount of phosphorous making its way into the lakes from septic systems. Phosphorous in lakes is bad said McInnes, who explained that higher levels of it create more weeds while reducing the amount of oxygen in the water and ultimately increase the chance of algae blooms.

Trying to hammer home the importance of acting now, Mcinnes said that the Canadian Real Estate Agency estimates that a single bloom reduces the value of a lakefront property by 30 per cent, which by itself is not overly concerning, but he went on to say that 70 per cent of the assessed value in the county is lakefront.

If nothing is done and blooms become more predominant, McInnes suggested that if 40 per cent of the lakes start having blooms, that will lead to a $722 million loss. A loss of that size would mean a 9.2 per cent tax increase just to make it up.

Another reason that McInnes was pushing for the renaturalization of shorelines, and bylaws fining those who remove nature, is the fact that although it can cost the county to change the bylaws and enforce them he feels that the cost of fixing it later is 10 times as much.

Minden Hills Mayor Brent Devolin, while supporting the idea, pointed out that they are limited by the higher levels of government on how big a fine they can set for bylaws.

Later in the same day, council passed a vote, making the fine for violating the shoreline preservation bylaw $800.

Algonquin Highlands Mayor Carol Moffatt suggested that in some cases, people would gladly pay the fines to clear the nature from the shore.
After a lengthy discussion, Warden Liz Danielson suggested that she would like to discuss with other wardens and regions and bring the idea of substantial fines being allowed to higher ups.