Let’s Act Now to Expedite Permits for Shoreline Protection and Repairs

Some of you may follow John Martinello and his emails on Lake Ontario flooding. John is a concerned citizen and previously a Brighton Municipal Councillor. John has become an activist raising concerns, awareness and much-needed alarm about Lake Ontario’s frightening levels and the glaring probability of catastrophic flooding this coming Spring. In his last email on December 17th, 2019 he noted:

“Lake Ontario is approx 1 foot (12 inches) higher than it was on 15 Dec 2018, just six months before the record-setting flooding of spring 2018 (see https://ijc.org/en/loslrb/watershed/current-conditions).”

Like many of our shoreline neighbours, the lake is ravaging the waterfront at the Timber House Resort. Flooding last spring did a number on our break-wall. Our repairs aren’t complete because of the extreme long lead-time on engineering work needed for Conservation Authority shoreline work approvals under Ontario Regulation 163/06. Now it looks very probable more flooding is coming in the spring, possibly worse than ever.

Waves pound the shore at Timber House Resort.
Shoreline damage at Timber House Resort 2019

After meeting with local Lower Trent Region Conservation Authority (LTRCA) officials, in the past few months, one thing is clear. While we can’t be certain how bad the coming flood will be, we should act now to remove bureaucratic roadblocks preventing repairs and protection of shorelines.

The LTRCA’s Permit Application for Development, Interference with Wetlands & Alterations to Shorelines & Watercourses Application can be had for $200.00 or much more, depending on complexity. For any size property, placement of more than 20 cubic metres of fill requires one or more engineering studies. This is less than one dump truck load of rock. Shoreline repairs for even a small waterfront residential property could need much more than this.

Larger properties? Well… Good luck with finding a shoreline engineer who doesn’t already have dozens of customers ahead of you, assuming you have the considerable funds and time to wait for your engineer to complete the site visits, prepare a report and get Conservation Authority sign-off.

Conservation Authority legislation is intended to protect our natural environment. It is needed more than ever to regulate the effects of human activity in sensitive natural areas. Like all legislation, it is a double-edged sword. The unintended consequence of the processes it imposes makes the legislation a conspirator with the forces of climate change, man-made and naturally induced, to cause further destruction.

We need to take action now remove as many roadblocks as possible. How about an expedited approval process? How about relief on the amount of material that can be hauled without an engineering study? How about using simple technology, templates and other means to turn out 1000 times as many engineering studies in the shortest possible time without the Rip Van Winkle intervals between each step in the process. What about funding for engineering work? Are only the wealthy supposed to be able to take action to protect their property?

Let’s take some steps now to minimize the heartbreak and loss. There are things we can do. We can draft a petition to get urgent municipal, provincial and federal action. We can bring in experts to unearth ways to get the maximum flexibility possible under the existing legislation from the Conservation Authorities. Expedited processes are needed. I’ve spoken with some of our elected officials, the Lower Trent Conservation Authority and a few Civil Engineering firms and they’re all more than interested in assisting.

Join us at the Timber House Resort at 2 pm on Saturday, January 4, 2020 for an emergency meeting to develop an action plan. Hope you can make it!