When: June 21, 2021 7 pm
Where: Zoom webinar
This first session in the series focused on the problem definition and the exploration of non-regulatory measures that could be implemented during the 2021 season.
Watch the recorded meeting
View the presentation
5 panelists and 81 people attended
28 people registered but did not attend
18 people provided submission prior to the session, during registration (see below)
33 people submitted 98 questions or comments during the meeting using the Q&A feature. 7 people asked 5 or more questions each, accounted for 53 questions
18 Submissions about the river situation were provided at registration time.
9 cited human safety problem
4 cited shoreline and/or erosion problem
Live speaking presentations
14 people (see summaries below) made live verbal presentations, plus responses by Cary Green and Rita Jain
5 explicitly recognized safety problems
2 explicitly said they do not observe safety problems
1 concern about bias in the process, but no substantiation provided. Cary Green replied that there is no predetermined outcome
1 shared the opinion that erosion in specific places (e.g. South Cantley) is due to the original flooding of the river
Summary of major issues raised by participants
- Confirmation that a safety hazard exists: In addition to the results of the 2021 survey where over 350 respondents rated the situation as “very dangerous, someone will get seriously injured or killed” and 100 comments describing dangerous situations were provided, this consultation session received: 9 of 18 pre-session submissions citing concerns for safety; 5 of 14 speakers during the session citing serious concerns for safety, including serious incidents of near collision and paddlers being capsized by wakes
It was noted that people observe different levels of problems on different sections of the river.
- Relative number of infractions issued by police for motorized versus non-motorized river users: MRC Prefect Green commented that, in a meeting with the MRC Police and FOG, the police stated that more infractions are observed involving non-motorized users than motorized users. To clarify, the police also stated that they focus on observable infractions for which they can issue tickets. They do not see many motorboaters exceeding the current speed limit of 55 km/h beyond 30 m from shore. It is noted that lack of compliance with existing speed limits has not been cited by FOG as a primary cause of the safety problem. The police stated that they do encounter paddlers and floaters who do not comply with the legal requirements related to personal safety, such as having a personal flotation device, bailing device, whistle, and floating rope. It was noted by an attendee that the boater infractions of speeding and dangerous conduct put others at risk whereas the paddler infractions put their own safety at risk, therefore the relative number of infractions is not a meaningful indicator of the problem or its causes.
- Accusation of bias in the consultation process: Colin Moses cited bias in the process during his verbal presentation. However, no evidence or explanation of bias has been provided to FOG. FOG has endeavored to be as fact-based, fair, and inclusive as possible in the design of the Vision 2030 survey and the conduct of these consultations. The survey questions related to safety included background information for context, the survey was tested and refined, including a review by an experienced, independent survey professional.
- Causes of erosion other than boat wakes: The presentation during the session shared published information and local observations about the relationships between boat speed, wake generated, and the distance over which wakes can carry an impact. The impacts include: contribution to shoreline erosion, swamping swimmers, and capsizing paddlers. During the session, five attendees asserted that the original creation of the dams and/or wind waves are more significant causes of erosion. Independent, published sources have not been provided to substantiate those assertions. Clarifications:
- It was presented, and agreed by several attendees, that the river has distinct zones with different physical characteristics (width, shoreline steepness and composition, orientation to wind waves, etc.) and usage patterns (density of swimming, paddling, powerboating). Consequently, different levels of safety risk and wake impact exist at different places.
- Consistent with the literature presented, several waterfront residents have cited boat wakes as an observed source of erosion, others have cited wind waves or the flooding of the river when the dams were built as sources. It is noted that factors in addition to boat wakes may contribute to erosion, to varying degrees, at different locations along the river.
- Erosion is not the only wake impact. Attendees and survey respondents also cited the capsizing of paddlers, disturbance to wildlife, docks and moored boats, all noted in the presentation. The survey results, survey comments, and some presentations during the consultation session substantiated that. The information about boat speeds, the wakes consequently generated, and the distance wakes travel is important to understand when evaluating the impact wakes have on the shore, paddlers, and other users on the river, particularly when the boat passes at speed within 100-150 m.
- Use of boat launch fees, or other means, to restrict non-resident boat launch access: It was suggested by some attendees that boat launch fees or other rules be used to dissuade or prevent non-residents from launching at the public launch site, and that such fees have been used elsewhere. According to Transport Canada, it is not legal to use boat launch fees or other rules, except the Transport Canada Vessel Operation Restriction Regulations (the subject of this consultation process), to discriminate based on residency, boat type, or motor size, when allowing access to a waterway.
- Boat washing rules to prevent invasive species: Several attendees raised the issue of boat washing to prevent invasive species. This topic is beyond the scope of these consultations, but Prefect Green described the Municipality of Chelsea’s plan for a mobile boat washing station this year. FOG continues to advocate for mandatory boat washing.