Council Reports: March 12, 2007

REPORT ON COUNCIL
March 12, 2007
Committee of the Whole Meeting: 9:04 a.m. – 2:25 p.m.
Regular Evening Meeting: 7:04 p.m. – 7:21 p.m.
All members of Council present.

CONFIDENTIAL / CLOSED SESSION: 11:37 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

NEW COMMUNITY RECREATION COORDINATOR: The Township’s new Community Recreation Coordinator is Bonita Desroches.

TOWNSHIP PREPARES FOR NEXT MUNICIPAL ELECTION: Council decided to accept the Clerk/CAO (Ruth Coursey)’s recommendation that the Township begin right away to use “the Municipal VoterView Application” supplied by DataFix, which would enable staff to amend the Voters’ List as changes are received in preparation for the municipal election in 2010.

COUNCIL SAYS “NO” TO WIND FARM: In December, the Township received a draft Environmental Screening Report for the Robitaille Farm Wind Park Proposal. At its March 5 meeting, Council received a request from John Douglas of Ventus Energy Inc and Martin Ince of M.K. Ince and Associates Limited to make a presentation about the proposed wind farm in order to disabuse Council of “misinformation or misunderstood information disseminated by wind opposition groups” noting that in March 2007, “Ventus Energy intends to submit applications for amendments of the Official Plan and Zoning By-Laws of Tiny Township.” At the same meeting, Council received a letter from CORT (Coalition of Residents-Tiny, Preserving the tranquillity and rural character of Tiny Township) asking that Council “take action now to ensure that any such proposal meets proper provincial criteria” and laying out a series of moves for Council to make.
At the request of Council and with the assistance of Amos Environment + Planning, Ruth Coursey, CAO/Clerk prepared a report about the approval process for this proposal (up to six wind turbines with towers up to 100 meters tall and 3-4 meters in diameter at the base, producing up to 10 MW). An accompanying map shows that the proposed turbines are now no longer located on farmland, but in a block of woodland inland from the Cedar Ridge development and from the Cedar Point cottagers.
She reported that municipalities apparently still have jurisdiction over energy projects. The new Planning Act (which removes energy projects from the control of municipalities) has been passed by the Province, but the enabling regulation exempting energy projects has not yet been put into effect. (This could, of course, change at any time.)
Since Council has power over energy projects at this point, she recommended that Council consider whether such a project were “in compliance with the general intent and purpose of the Official Plan.” The report suggests that the turbine project violates the vision and objectives in Part A of the Official Plan, because the “construction and visual impact of the wind turbines of the scale proposed will be quite pronounced, therefore compromising the intent of the Official Plan to maintain a landscape dominated by open fields and wooded areas. There will also be some measurable impact on the environment, through the removal of trees and other construction operations.”
It is, according to the report, important that the municipality state its view of the proposed project clearly and plainly at this stage.
After some discussion, Council decided to pass a resolution opposing the location of wind power generation facilities (Category B, under Ontario Regulation 116/01) anywhere in the municipality on the ground that it does not conform to the general intent and purpose of the Township’s Official Plan and to have the resolution forwarded to Ventus Energy Inc., and to all agencies listed on the Environmental Screening Report circulation list.
Council also denied Ventus’s request to make an oral presentation to Council, and decided not to have peer reviews of the Environmental Screening Report for the Robitaille Farm Wind Park.

E. COLI STUDIES AT TOWNSHIP’S BEACHES: Dr. Allan Crowe (of Environment Canada’s National Water Research Institute in Burlington) reported on various studies undertaken along the beaches of Tiny in association with the Severn Sound Environmental Association, the Ontario Ministry of Environment, and the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit from 2005 to 2007. His group wants to understand the environmental factors responsible for E. coli presence and persistence at beaches and to determine the sources of E. coli.
Groundwater studies have been undertaken at “dry” and “wet” beaches, namely
– Balm Beach (1 site at Conc. 10 and 1 at Conc. 9)
– Jackson Park Beach (1 site)
– Woodland Beach (3 sites).
Creek studies were undertaken at
– Balm Beach’s main creek
– Woodland Beach’s main creek.

For the text of the results of these studies and what Dr. Crowe believes Tiny Township can do to reduce levels of E. coli at its beaches, click HERE (pdf).
In the course of his presentation, Dr. Crowe observed that these studies challenge the Health Unit’s assumption that the presence of E. coli is evidence of recent fecal contamination by a warm-blooded animal (humans, birds, dogs etc.) since some E. coli populations appear to be long-lived and to reproduce at the beach.
He said that he believes that wet beaches are caused by people bulldozing sand dunes and planting lawns near the Bay. The latter attract geese, which like to eat lawn grass, and cause the spread of lawn or turf grass to the beach proper, attracting geese there as well.
He observed that the Ministry of the Environment no longer recommends the planting of lawns over septic beds on properties adjacent to bodies of water.

CARING FOR OUR BEACHES CONFERENCE: This day-long Conference is to take place on Friday July 13 at the Best Western Inn and Conference Centre in Midland. Its focus is the shoreline of Tiny Township and the cost is $30 for the day (including lunch) for those who sign up by a particular date, $40 for those who pay at the door. Endorsed by the Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation, the Severn Sound Environmental Association and the Federation of Tiny Township Shoreline Associations, this Conference is to consider beach management issues and possible solutions, and will include the following presentations –
– The Ups and Downs of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay: making sense of water level changes by Chuck Southam, Environment Canada
– Healthy and Degraded Beach Ecosystems: a link to E. coli at Beaches? by Allan Crowe, National Water Research Institute
– Caring for Dunes: conserving one of our lake’s most vulnerable ecosystems by the Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation
– Nearshore Water Quality – trends and risks by Keith Sherman, Severn Sound Environmental Association and Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit
– Achieving Success – grassroots beach stewardship by Friends of Sauble Beach

Dr. Gail Krantzberg is to be the keynote speaker. Her research interests include interjurisdictional ecosystem management, the interface of science and policy formulation, and Great Lakes remediation and protection.
Linda Lockyer, of the “Caring for our Beaches”Conference Committee, asked that the Township become a Conference Sponsor by contributing $2,000 towards Conference costs. Council decided to consider the request during budget discussions.

Two sections from Dr Allan Crowe’s Report.

What are the Results of these Studies?

1. Extent of E. coli in groundwater below beaches…
– no E. coli in groundwater below dry beach
– E. coli is consistently seen in groundwater below wet beaches at 0 – 200 E. coli / 100 mL
– E. coli levels up to 10,000 E. coli / 100 mL consistently seen in groundwater adjacent to lake ( – no E. coli in groundwater below lake bottom 2 m offshore

2. sources of these E. coli…
– E. coli below wet beaches appear to come from a surface source (gulls, geese)
no evidence of movement of E. coli from septic systems through beach to lake; but improperly functioning septic systems may discharge E. coli to lake via springs
– E. coli in wave runup zone appears to come from the lake; wave runup during a storm will infiltrate into sand and – – E. coli will accumulate below the wave runup
– E. coli in this zone come from birds, runoff, streams, etc.

3. relationship between E. coli in lake and E. coli in groundwater below beach …
– little evidence of large loadings of E. coli from beaches to lake via groundwater
– high levels of E. coli in groundwater adjacent to lake comes from lake via infiltration of lake water during wave runup during a storm; but move only a few metres into beach
– following a storm, there is slow discharge of groundwater and E. coli onto shoreline
– major loading of E. coli into lake water during erosion of shoreline during storm
– essentially no discharge of E. coli into the lake through the lake bed

4. relationship between E. coli in creeks and E. coli in groundwater below beach…
– E. coli is always present in streams sampled
– E. coli levels vary seasonally ( – E. coli levels rapidly increase to 1,000s during rainfall; slowly declines over next few days
– no movement of E. coli from streams that cross beach into groundwater below beach because groundwater flow below beaches is towards the creek
– as streams meander across beach, water and E. coli from creek will infiltrate to water table below creek channel
– E. coli from septic systems adjacent to a creek will discharge into creek
– discharge from small creeks flows 10s of metres parallel to and within 1-2 m of shore line
– discharge from large rivers will flow 100s – 1000s of metres into the lake

5. persistence of E. coli in groundwater and sand below beaches…
– E. coli consistently detected in groundwater below beaches and adjacent to lake during winter, even though groundwater temperature near freezing
– E. coli can persist in the sand for months? years?
– recent science indicates that E. coli is living and reproducing in beach sand
– recent science also detected some pathogenic strains of E. coli in beach sand (O157:H7) [in Michigan]
– because the beach adjacent to the shoreline is a major reservoir for E. coli, it is likely that beaches are contaminating themselves

What can Tiny Township do to Reduce Levels of E. coli at its Beaches?
1. Because geese and gulls are the primary source of E. coli at beaches, E. coli sources can be reduced by discouraging geese and gulls from visiting beaches. Although you will never be able to prevent all geese from stopping at the beaches, especially during their migration, you can make the beach environment less attractive to geese. Geese eat turf grass, so do not allow lawns near the shoreline. Gulls eat garbage, so remove garbage from beach. Also educate the public not to feed the geese and gulls.

2. The type of vegetation found on a beach, and development of sand dunes and dry sand influence geese at a beach. Geese are attracted to areas of the beach where there is a source of food. Geese do not like beach grass; they cannot eat it and they are wary of predators hiding in the grass. Prohibit removal of sand dunes and beach grass – this leads to introduction [of] phreatophyte vegetation (cattails, sedge grass, turf grass) at beach, shallow depths to the water table (allows E. coli to infiltrate to water table). Prohibit planting lawns along shoreline (beach grass is acceptable over septic systems).

3. Although there is no evidence that properly functioning septic systems are a source of E. coli at a beach, failed septic systems and improperly located septic systems are a problem. Septic systems should not be located in areas where water table is shallow and adjacent to creeks that flow to the beach.

4. Many streams and storm water drains that discharge at the shoreline discharge into sheltered areas of the shoreline (e.g. Balm Beach, Jackson Park Beach). Move outlets to areas that have better open water exchange with the lake. Consider the use of constructed storm water ponds and wetlands to reduce E. coli before discharge to beaches; sunlight (UV radiation) and settling of sediment (E. coli like to attach to sediment) will significantly reduce E. coli in water.

5. There are a variety of techniques available that can be used to identify the sources of E. coli found in the nearshore water and sand along a beach. Two of the main “Microbial Source Tracking” methods that are gaining a lot of attention are the DNA fingerprinting technique and the antibiotic resistance techniques. While these techniques have demonstrated some success in identifying the source of the E. coli (e.g., pigs, cattle, humans, geese, beaver, deer, etc.) they are very costly and require a long time to develop E. coli libraries, typically 1-3 years. And data from one location cannot be transferred to another area (e.g., the DNA library for Toronto’s beaches is not applicable to Tiny Township’s beaches. Therefore, currently the most effective [way] to locate sources is through targeted monitoring of hot spots and tracing pathways for delivering E. coli to the beaches.