Latest News

In Memory of Rick Sterne

Dear Friends,

We lost a good friend to the Bay of Islands this past December.  Rick Sterne, a long time islander, past BICA president, past BICA treasurer, and lover of The Bay of Islands passed away on Tuesday, December 5th. He will be missed.  Rick’s family first came to the Bay of Islands in the mid 1920’s and fell in love with the area. The Sterne family bought the west end of Island 2502 in 1939 and called it West Point, which they still call it today.  Rick first came to the Bay of Islands as an infant.  As a boy, he enjoyed spending  his days, fishing, swimming, and building forts.  Rick served as BICA treasurer for seven years and then served as our president from 2013 to 2017.  He was a strong supporter of our mission and was a wonderful mentor to all who served on the board with him.  

Below is the link to Rick’s obituary. https://brantfordexpositor.remembering.ca/obituary/richard-sterne-1089152842

Deadline for Underused Housing Tax Filing Extended Again

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has pushed back the deadline for compliance with the Underused Housing Tax (UHT), a new federal tax on vacant or underutilized housing. Taxpayers will now have until April 30, 2024 to file tax forms and pay any amounts owing for the 2022 calendar year. The deadline to file and pay the tax for 2023 remains April 30, 2024.

Read More

In Memory of Bobette Jones

Dear BICA and Bay of Islands Community and Friends,

It is with deep and heavy hearts that we share the loss of our dear and loyal bay friend, Bobette Jones.

Born in 1944, Bobette Jane Stern Jones died Sunday October 22, 2023 in Cuenca, Ecuador.  Ill from this past spring, Bobette’s decline progressed then ended with heart failure. Throughout, Bobette was lovingly cared for by her friend Richard Morris.  Richard visited in the Bay of Islands in 2022 and often pre-COVID. 

There were constants in Bobette’s life.  Bobette decided that if she saved a bit she could do as she wished.  And what she wished was to spend summers in the Bay of Islands and winters first in Panama and later, Cuenca.  She did not require comfort or convenience.  Bobette needed the rest and stimulation she found in the hills and waters of the north, the old cities of the south; provided there was also art, music, and friends.

North or South, Bobette gave energy and friendship to her community, which flowed back and forth.  In Ecuador Bobette was a regular contributor to the ex-pat newsletter with reviews of concerts and gallery shows, tips on things to do and finding apartments, and how to get good legal advice.  Of course Bobette favored and organized parties, dinners, dancing, trips to the beach, and hikes in the mountains. 

In the Bay of Islands Bobette fostered friends by looking out for her neighbours out on the extreme west where the waters open to the Sault.  She would turn off her oven to keep an eye on Tom Monger as he worked his way against three-foot waves in a 14 ft. boat to be certain he got home safe, always at the ready to head out to help.  Bobette gave back to the Bay and our community over the years by tending to things for BICA, organizing hikes, trips to Manitoulin sites, jaunts into Grace Lake, and taking friends to Stratford.  She was an integral part of BICA’s auction each year as well.

Bobette’s was a life of simple courage, physical strength and morale.  She stood ready to help friends and others whether on the water, in practising law and in carrying part of the load that keeps communities alive.  She chose to live as she wished, where she wished.  Her views were rooted in Thomas Paine’s dictum, "The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion."  She practised this in a manner that outlives her... while memory of her smile and laugh remain, Bobette’s energy will be at work inspiring us all to making life better, more enjoyable for friends and neighbours. 

This coming summer there will be a get together of friends and neighbours to remember and celebrate Bobette.  We will let you know. 

-- Beautifully written by Ted Cowan 

BICA Annual Members Meeting 2023 Summary

4:00 - 5:30 PM EST Saturday August 5, 2023

Ruby Island (TP2567)

Minutes

1. Call to Order – Patrick Thoburn

2. Approval of Minutes 2022 – Patrick Thoburn

Moved - That the general membership approves the minutes of the 2022 BICA AMM Mover – Zachary Shewchuk Second – Scott Boatman Passed: Unanimously 3. President’s Report – Patrick Thoburn

Full Report appended to these minutes below. Patrick reviewed the priorities (voted on by members at the 2022 AMM) and the progress that the BICA Board has been working on over the past 12 months:Fire safety – NEMI grant to subsidize the purchase of 10 additional pumps.Emergency preparedness – Training workshop and new emergency form.Environment – Love Your Bay Week communication.Family Fun Day – Family Hot Dog Day insteadStrengthen relationship with Whitefish River First Nation – There is interest in working together especially with regards to environmental issues. 2024 dues increase –Patrick reviewed the rational (inflation and primarily due to GBA dues increase). 4. Treasurer’s Report – David Farner

David gave a high-level review of the financial situation. Revenue from dues approx. $7400 Operating expenses used approx. 95% of revenue. This doesn’t leave a large buffer for financing all the fun BICA events and activities and highlights the importance of the revenue generated by the annual raffle and auction. Moved - That the general membership approves the Treasurer’s Report for 2023 Mover – Jim Montgomery Second – Ted Cowan Passed: Unanimously 5. GBA Report - Liz Phillips

Liz is now President of the GBA. Congratulations! Liz is in the process of visiting other member associations and is struck by how they are very different, but also very similar in many ways. Liz gave an overview of the current GBA issues and initiatives. Coastal protection Boating Safety Water quality 6. NEMI Update

Mayor Al MacNevin gave an overview of some of the challenges faced by NEMI Opioid and mental health problems in the region Burnout of staff and difficulty of recruiting and retaining new staff at the hospital COVID made the situation even worse, although working together did help strengthen the relationship with First Nation communities on Manitoulin Island The focus now is to work together across all disciplines to remove silos. Councilor Laurie Cook Reiterated that the fire ban is still on Reviewed some of the benefits we receive for our tax dollars, and encouraged the BICA community to take advantage of: $5000 pump subsidy Little Current Library Rec Centre 7. Q&A





David Alison congratulated and thanked Liz for stepping up to the role of GBA President. This was reiterated by Lindsay Richards. Neil Stanton asked Mayor Al about the criteria for removing the fire ban. Mayor Al responded that it is not the Mayor’s decision - it is up to the Fire Chief. Mayor Al agreed that the current situation is confusing because the fire ban has been lifted in some neighboring municipalities and on Crown Land. Zachary Shewchuk asked Mayor Al about specific guidelines for what types of fires are allowed under the fire ban – BBQ’s, indoor fireplaces, etc.? 8. Emergency Preparedness and Fire Safety

Emergency Preparedness – Sheila Williams Reviewed the success of the training by NSSR and the OPP that BiCA arranged for members in July. Reviewed the safety information sheet posted on the BICA website.Overviewed the Emergency Form that was laminated and made available to members at the meeting. Acknowledged and thanked Kim Redston and Lisa Alison for the work on preparing this form.Stressed the importance of knowing your exact location when calling 911 for assistance. Your Island Number may not be enough. Know your GPS coordinates and/or What3Words location. Get first aid training – you need to be able to take care of yourself. Fire Safety – David Gallup Thanks to the NEMI subsidy and 10 additional pumps, we now have 45 fire pumps in the Bay. 72 members in the WhatsApp Fire Pump Group. Stressed the importance that it is for fire emergency use only – no general chit chat. Contact David Gallup to be added to the Group. Tremendous response to the recent fire at the Vance camp. The fire was under control withing 30 minutes of notification.Lessons learn: Personal safety and being properly dressed and equipped is important – responders need to be prepared. No shorts, or bare feet. Long pants, boots and work gloves recommended. Bring tools – rakes, shovels, etc. BICA is trying to arrange Fire Pump Training and Fire Fighting Training in 2024. Contact Patrick Thoburn if you know someone that could possibly do this training. 9. Members Brainstorm in Small Groups - All

Attending members were divided into 4 groups each having a BICA Board member acting as facilitator and Spokesperson.  Each group was asked to discuss the following question for approximately 10 minutes and brainstorm ideas: “What more can our community do to improve fire safety and emergency preparedness?” 10. Presentation of Member Ideas – Group Spokespeople

Each group’s ideas were written on a large notepad and then presented by the Spokesperson. Following the presentation, each member was asked to put up two colored stickers for voting on ideas that should be pursued by BICA. 11. Board Nominations & Election – Trevor Marshall

Nominations for the Board of Directors for 2023-2024 Patrick Thoburn Sheila Williams Celesta Bjornson Liz Phillips David Farner Trevor Marshall Bobette Jones Scott Boatman Jeff Baker Chris Redston Lisa Allison David Gallup Motion - That the general membership approves the Board of Directors for 2023-2024. Mover – Zachary Shewchuk Second – Jean Paul Whyatt Passed: Unanimously 12. Adjournment – Patrick

Meeting Adjourned at 5:45 EST

Minutes drafted by Chris Redston, Secretary

Presidents Report 2023 by Patrick Thoburn - appended to these minutes.

Environmental Report 2023 by Chris Redston - appended to these minutes.

President’s Report 2023

Bay of Islands Community AssociationPresident’s Report 2023By Patrick ThoburnDelivered at the 88th annual member meeting of the Bay of Islands Community Association on August 5, 2023.Our community has been meeting for the past 88 years on these shores with the same unwavering purpose: To preserve and protect the Bay for future generations.One year ago today, with that purpose in mind, our members brainstormed on the question, “What initiatives should BICA continue or start?” The following were voted as the top priorities. I’d like to talk about what we’ve accomplished together on these priorities over the last year and look ahead to next year.

Fire safety: Led by David Gallup we secured $5,000 from NEMI for 10 new fire pumps and installed a WhatsApp fire alert system critical to the speedy response to the Vance island fire. Emergency preparedness: Led by past-president Sheila Williams, we held an event with North Shore Rescue and the OPP where we learned about what to do in the event of an emergency on our islands. Here’s a resource you can fill out and keep on your fridge: https://bayofislands.ca/wp-content/uploads/2023/08/Emergency-Preparedness-Document-FINAL.pdf Environmental initiatives: We published educational content for members, particularly during Love Your Bay Week, led by Board Secretary and Environment lead Chris Redston. Check it out here: https://bayofislands.ca/category/water-quality/ Social Events -- Events like the Fish Fry, Social & Auction, Family Hot Dog Day and Bas Bleu Book Club continue to attract strong turnout, and the leadership of Jeff Baker, Celesta Bjornson, Sheila Richards, Trevor Marshall and Bobette Jones make all our events possible. Whitefish River First Nation – We’ve initiated a reset of the relationship with our allies and partners WRFN. When I met with newly elected Chief Rodney Nahwegahbow last month, he expressed enthusiasm for building on the strong ties between our communities. Several board members will meet with Chief and Council later this Summer and we will aim to introduce Chief Rodney to our community next year. It's important to know that your association supports other work to fulfill our mission, including:

GBA – Liz Phillips is our representative to this important environmental advocacy organization and is now GBA President. Congratulations, Liz! Tighter regulation of floating accommodations is one of GBA’s current priorities, and BICA has submitted a petition in support.  Membership – Our membership is stronger than ever thanks to the organization of past-president Celesta Bjornson, now our membership lead. Please spread the word and invite your neighbours and family members to join. Communications – Board member Lisa Allison has kept us informed by email and website, and we have more than 275 people on our e-mailing list; community members who don’t receive the email can sign up here: https://bayofislands.ca/connect/. The many volunteer hours committed by the association board are so appreciated by all of us. Thank you!Finally, our board has approved an increase in dues to $105, to take place next year in 2024. 60% of our dues go to GBA, which recently increased their dues. This increase is in line with the cost-of-living increase since 2018, the last time dues were increased. We undertook a survey of GBA associations over the winter, led by Lindsay Richards, and we are the lowest cost of all the associations.Please spread the word about BICA. We rely on the volunteer spirit of the community to keep going. Please encourage your friends and neighbours to join.Thank you for your support, enthusiasm, and membership in our association.Minutes from the annual member meeting can be found here: LINKLink to Environment Report by Chris Redston can be found here: LINK

Environmental Report 2023

BICA Environment Committee Report 2023

By Chris Redston

We continue our focus on three key areas: Water Quality, Invasive Species, and Septic Systems. We are planning Love Your Bay Week 2023 - from August 5 to 12 - to communicate directly with members via email and post relevant content on the BICA website. Lindsay Richards and Martha McLellan continue to serve on the Water Quality Sub-committee. They have assisted with ideas and content for Love Your Bay Week and are planning to use the BICA Facebook Group to build awareness and promote the Love Your Bay Week campaign.

Water Quality

We are encouraging BICA members to test their own drinking water to ensure that their water treatment systems are functioning properly. Information on how to test your drinking water has been posted on the BICA website. We will encourage members to use non-hazardous and more eco-friendly cleaning products by distributing content during Love Your Bay Week.

Invasive Species

We will continue to raise awareness about Invasive Phragmites and encourage BICA members to be on the lookout for any new stands of this plant in the water and shorelines of public and private property. It is each members responsibility to look out for and attempt to control new stands of this plant on their own property. We will assist BICA members by providing information on how to identify and control Invasive Phragmites during Love Your Bay Week.

In August 2022, we organized a team of volunteers to cut the stand of Invasive Phragmites on public land on the Whitefish River near Whitefish Falls. Based on the updated Best Management Practices issued by the Ontario Invasive Plant Council, we have decided to stop the annual Phragmites cut on this stand on the Whitefish River. The updated practice does not recommend cutting the plant above grade. On its own, it is not an effective control method and can encourage new growth. Instead, we will lobby government to use new updated practices that now recommend the use of other control methods, including the use herbicides that are now approved for use near the water.

An invasive aquatic weed - Eurasian Watermilfoil – has spread rapidly through the Bay of Islands and there are now small and large weed beds throughout our water. We will use Love Your Bay Week to raise awareness of this invasive species with recommendations on how to slow the spread.

Septic Systems

Properly functioning septic systems play an important role in preventing sewage runoff and degrading water quality. One of the best ways to ensure a properly functioning septic system is the regular inspection and pump-out of septic tanks. Mark Thoburn coordinated the pump-out of 31 BICA member septic tanks by Ferguson Maintenance in July 2023. Jim Ferguson has tentatively agreed to come back to the Bay of Islands on a 5-year rotation. We will use Love Your Bay Week to inform and educate members on what they can do to maintain their septic systems in good working order and encourage members to do regular pump outs.

Lost in the Light: Taking Action to Address Light Pollution

By Britt Oldenburg, Bay of Islands Association

One of the key attractions of cottage life is being immersed in the beauty of nature: the lake, the trees, the loons, and a dark, star-filled sky. This dark and starry sky is increasingly threatened by light pollution caused by artificial lighting.

Ironically, lighting designed to save energy has only increased light pollution. According to an article by Robert Dick in a 2021 Federation of Ontario Cottagers’ Associations (FOCA) newsletter, energy-saving lighting is increasing the amount of artificial lighting at night by 2.2 per cent each year. It has become easy and inexpensive to light up docks and pathways with solar lights that stay on all night.

While light pollution interferes with our aesthetic enjoyment of the dark night sky, it also causes harm to nature. Animals, birds, and insects have evolved to take their cues from a world where the days are bright with sunshine and the nights are dark or gently illuminated by the stars and the moon.

For animals that use the stars to navigate for migration, the night skies and artificial lighting interferes with their ability to migrate. Birds can mistake artificial lights for their navigational stars, leaving them exhausted, dehydrated, and off course, and can sometimes lead to their death.

Nocturnal animals need the dark to protect themselves from predators. They use the protection of the dark to find food, eat, and mate. Artificial lighting reduces the time they have to spend on these essential life activities.

Even humans need darkness at night to produce melatonin, a hormone that helps us achieve the deep sleep we need to stay healthy. Artificial lighting affects our hormone levels and the structures by which we grow.

The good news is that light pollution is one of the easiest forms of pollution to address, and there are things we can do to help reduce its impact. As Nicholas St. Fleur wrote in a 2016 article for the New York Times, "light pollution is a problem researchers say could disappear with the flick of a switch.”

Angel Lillard of the McGregor Bay Association took this to heart this summer, after years of increasing light pollution from the Lafarge cement plant located on the eastern shoreline of McGregor Bay. Together with McGregor Bay Association President John Woodrooffe, they brought the issue forward to Lafarge, who quickly agreed to adopt a dark-sky policy that will see the lights turned off between 9:30 p.m. and 6 a.m. Angel is now working to make the local municipality’s (the Town of Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands [NEMI]) dark-sky regulations more accessible so that cottagers can easily understand how to make their lighting comply with the by-law.

There are several initiatives in the Georgian Bay area aimed at curbing light pollution:

Killarney Provincial Park has a strong dark sky policy and was the first provincial park in Ontario to be designated a Dark-Sky Preserve by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. Lake Superior and Quetico Provincial Parks have since followed suit.NEMI passed regulations in 2009 in support of the Dark Sky Sanctuary designation.The Township of Georgian Bay has an extensive dark-sky bylaw regulating outdoor lighting to mitigate light pollution and conserve the dark-sky environment.The Township of Carling provides some guidance around outdoor lighting, stating that all external lights must be dark-sky compliant.The Township of the Archipelago’s comprehensive zoning bylaw includes a section outlining its dark-sky provisions. The Lafarge cement plant located in the southeast corner of McGregor Bay was a significant source of light pollution until concerned cottager Angel Lillard took action.Photo: Angel Lillard How You Can Reduce Light Pollution

Even if you don’t have an industrial source of light pollution in your area, we all have a role to play in reducing light pollution. This simply involves turning off lights that are not required, directing light rays to the ground, and blocking light from travelling upwards and into the sky. The International Dark-Sky Association recommends the following principles for lighting:

Turn off lights when you no longer need them. Consider using motion sensors so that lights are only on when you need them.Eliminate the upward direction of lights. Practically speaking, this means directing lights to the ground and choosing fixtures with shields that limit the amount of light that scatters upwards.Use low colour LED lights. Blue light scatters more than white light and has a disruptive effect on melatonin production, which interferes with the circadian rhythm of humans and animals alike. Example of a lighting fixture that shields light from scattering upwards. For more information on what you can do to make your outdoor lighting dark-sky friendly, check out the International Dark Sky Association here: darksky.org/our-work/lighting/lighting-for-citizens/residentialbusiness-lighting

The Bay of Island Community Association held breakout sessions at this year’s Annual General Meeting to capture key issues for members. Light Pollution was one of the top issues that members wanted BICA to address.  Members can start to address the issue by simply turning off their lights at night.





Help Stop Microplastics Pollution

GBA is supporting Georgian Bay Forever (GBF) and the two MPPs who have proposed Bill 279 which will require new clothes washing machines to have filters installed. This legislation is the result of GBF’s successful research projects in Parry Sound and Collingwood, which clearly demonstrated that installing these filters reduces microplastics pollution, helps protect the water, environment and ultimately anyone in the area consuming the water. Bill 279 received unanimous approval at First Reading and we are asking for your support on a letter writing campaign to MPPs to ask them to get this Bill passed before Queen's Park rises in June for the election. Visit this webpage for details on how to support the campaign by sending a letter to Queen's Park: https://bit.ly/33q2QJ2

In the News

The Fall GBA Update features the Bay of Islands and our community in articles written by BICA's own Liz Phillips. On page 8 you will find an article titled Return to the Bay: US Residents Get Back to their Happy Place.  And on page 10 another article called Keeping Members Engaged During Covid.   For more reading, this Fall's FOCA News was also recently distributed and can be accessed here.Happy Thanksgiving to all our American members!  We are wishing you a joyous reunion with friends and family.   

View All News