Muskoka Watershed Advisory Group
On behalf of the Brandy Lake Association, we would like to thank you for the listening session you hosted January 23 in Port Carling. Three members of our executive attended the session with other residents also present. Your mandate is daunting as the issues facing us in our efforts to protect, preserve and manage our extensive watershed are multifaceted and cross many jurisdictions. We submit the following remarks to achieve positive outcomes for our watershed and, of course, for Brandy Lake. Our recommendations are bolded in the text of the document.
We favour the establishment of a watershed-wide management plan to allow an inter-jurisdictional response to planning for the future health and well-being of all who share this space and place. As you said in your remarks, the economy and the environment are deeply connected in Muskoka. We know our ecosystem is in need of our very considered attention and for this reason we encourage you to advocate for a comprehensive and collaborative response.
Brandy Lake is somewhat unique in the western half of the watershed, being a dystrophic lake with no upstream connection to the Muskoka River system. Its watershed is 40 square kilometres, almost exactly 40 times bigger than the lake itself, consisting almost entirely of natural wetlands that support diverse habitats and land uses. Brandy Lake discharges to Lake Muskoka through Brandy Creek at the southeast end of the lake. The water levels on our lake rise and fall each season with the flush of water through the watershed, and as a result, changes in the Brandy Creek watershed could have a significant impact on lake health in the future. This symbiotic relationship between Brandy Lake and its watershed are therefore very important to our members and demonstrates to us the very real urgency of
having a comprehensive watershed plan in Muskoka.
Our members have identified lake health as a significant priority and we are developing a strategic plan that reflects our mandate to work to support lake health which includes healthy shorelines and a protected watershed. We are one of many small lakes with engaged residents both year-round and seasonal. The residents on our lakes (and their associations) could, with the right tools, be a comprehensive part of the data collection to characterize the watershed. If all of the lake associations had some direction and some tools (e.g., guidance and equipment for more comprehensive lakewide health assessment) to know that the work that they are doing is going to contribute to the bigger and better watershed ecosystem (and its subsequent management), then the associations and individuals could really feel like they are part of the solution. We recommend you develop a comprehensive data collection framework
conducted by the citizens of key lake communities which will contribute to the evidence-based information needed for watershed management.
Finally, we all share concerns that we will be facing more algal blooms, uncertain ice conditions, weather extremes, flooding and even fires as we deal with our rapidly changing climate. We believe it is imperative to respond with both mitigation and adaptation strategies to protect our watershed. The strategies must be comprehensive and reflect all activities in the watershed. We urge you to bring this concern forward in your report to the MECP.
Thank you for inviting our submission.
Don Burn, President
Brandy Lake Association