Fighting Climate Change – Easy Steps Every Homeowner Can Take
Owen Sound SunTimes, January 14, 2021
When it comes to climate change, we all have a role to play in reducing its impact. Rather than feeling overwhelmed, homeowners have many opportunities to make a difference. There are sev-eral ways to reduce energy consumption and lower the CO2 emissions that equate to about 5-7 tonnes on average for an Ontario home.
The best impact any homeowner can make is through better insulation. Those of us in the Owen Sound area who live in older homes built before 1935 can make a significant impact. These buildings have a single wall of solid brick or stone. Houses built between 1935 and 1985 have double walls but with an unfilled cavity. Homes built after 1985 mostly have an insulated space in between the walls. One way to tell if your home needs insulation is when loft rooms are hot in the summer and cold in the winter. Icicles hanging from rooflines will also tell you you’re losing heat through your roof.
There are many things you can do. Ensuring that your roof, loft and walls are well insulated is a priority to reduce your CO2 impact, as well as reduce heating costs. Draught stripping is a sec-ond priority. Some houses lose as much as 25% of their heat through gaps around doors, win-dows, floorboards, and chimneys. Putting your hands over a power outlet on outside walls can sometimes tell you if you have heat loss that way. Double and triple-glazed windows come with built-in seals. There are also simple, low-cost options that can make a significant difference, such as taping on window plastic or using thick curtains that prevent the heat from escaping. Replac-ing old, painted-over draught strips is also a good idea as the paint prevents the draught strips from doing their work. While you are at it, if you have a suspended floor, check for gaps and fill them up with insulation foam or caulk.
Your heating system is another opportunity to make a difference. Getting an energy-efficient fur-nace or an on-demand hot-water heater are big-ticket items. However, they do make a substantial difference. Make sure to understand the controls of such systems because they have become so much more sophisticated. They do make it so much easier to regulate your energy consumption. If you want to change or adapt your controls, know that they can be altered or added to most sys-tems, so it might be worthwhile to check into that possibility.
If you have a hot-water heater, make sure the thermostat is no higher than 60°C. It will avoid the use of energy to keep a large volume of water hot. Insulating hot water pipes with insulation sleeves is easy to do if you have access to these pipes.
Looking at your electricity use is needed to monitor your impact. Why wait for your old energy-consuming lightbulbs to give out before replacing them with energy-efficient bulbs? You might also consider replacing older, energy-sucking appliances with newer, low-energy versions. To leave behind a healthier planet for future generations, we will all need adaptations in our life-style, like putting on extra sweaters rather than turning up the heat when you feel a little chilly. Making this switch is an easy habit to form for most people.
Some of these suggestions may take more time to implement than others. The point is that we all have the opportunity to play our role in fighting climate change. And that is an empowering thought.
The following is taken from the Georgian Bay Great Lakes Foundation August 2020 Update:
“This has been a strange, new-world summer as we dealt both with COVID 19 and extreme high water levels on our Bay. Adjusting our lives to prevent COVID spread is now with us until vaccines are widely available. But tolerating the economic and ecological damages, including the loss of precious wetland and fish habitat caused by extreme IJC defined “crisis” levels, is unacceptable given that both the IJC and Ontario’s OPG could have taken measures to lower our levels.” Read the entire update here.
So what can and needs to be done? The Georgian Bay Great Lakes Foundation has “the following advice for our government agencies.
Request to Ontario Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry: Reduce Long Lac and Ogoki diversions temporarily now for emergency relief. There are 3 precedents for this – in the 1970s, 1980s and again as recently as 3 years in the 1990s, these diversions were reduced.
That the IJC direct the Lake Superior Board of Control to compensate for the 360CM/s of extra flow that they directed from Dec. 2019 to March 2020.
That the IJC require that the Lake Superior Board of Control reduce Lake Superior discharges to alleviate “Crisis” conditions downstream in order to meet their own stated criterion to “balance upstream and downstream interests”.
That all parties involved face facts and act on them. So far the IJC and the Ontario government are using the excuse that these measures would reduce our levels by only a few centimeters. The reality is that if both the Long Lac and Ogoki diversions and the Lake Superior discharges to the North Channel had been reduced beginning in 2014, when we hit IJC-defined “crisis alert high conditions”, the level of Lakes Michigan/Huron/Georgian Bay would now be 8 inches or 20 cm below our current level. That is NOT “only a few centimeters”, as letters from officials and agencies state. To not take these actions is simply irresponsible of the IJC and the Government of Ontario.
To both Federal governments: Request that the IJC undertake an immediate review of IJC Regulation Plan 2012. We need accurate St. Clair River flows and depths measured across the river’s entire width and length, not just the US side, in order to better understand this unstable riverbed, which Baird Report 1 (2004) determined was eroding. Such erosion likely continued until 2010. This is the only connecting Great Lakes channel that has no official government oversight. The other channels have Control Boards that meet monthly and set discharge amounts. The St. Clair River has nothing even close to that.”
And what can you as an IVDAARA member do? WRITE LETTERS OR MAKE PHONE CALLS!! Contact your MP and MPP. Here is a list of the appropriate Canadian Legislators and Members of Parliament:
Contact information for Canadian Legislators/ Federal MP:
1 Prime Minister of Canada : Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau Justin.email@example.com
2 Deputy Prime Minister of Canada & Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs : Hon. Chrystia Freeland Chrystia.Freeland@parl.gc.ca
3 Minister of Foreign Affairs : Hon. Francois-Philippe Champagne firstname.lastname@example.org
4 Minister of Public Safety & Emergency Preparedness : Hon. Bill Blair Bill.Blair@parl.gc.ca
5 Minister of Transport : Hon. Marc Garneau email@example.com
6 Minister of the Environment & Climate Change : Hon. Jonathan Wilkinson Jonathan.Wilkinson@parl.gc.ca
7 Your MP Alex.Ruff@parl.gc.ca
Contacts for ONTARIO:
8 Minister of Natural Resources & Forestry : Hon. John Yakabuski John.firstname.lastname@example.org
9 Minister of Municipal Affairs & Housing : Hon. Steve Clark email@example.com
10 Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries : Hon. Lisa MacLeod Lisa.firstname.lastname@example.org
11 Minister of Environment, Conservation & Parks : Hon. Jeff Yurek email@example.com
12 Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation & Trade : Hon. Vic Fedeli firstname.lastname@example.org
13 Minister of Transportation : Hon. Caroline Mulroney email@example.com
14 Solicitor General of Ontario : Hon. Sylvia Jones firstname.lastname@example.org
15 Your MPP : Bill Walker email@example.com
IVDAARA Past President Brad Kuhn has written to the appropriate agencies. Following below are his letters and the reply he has received:
“Thursday, August 6, 2020
Dear Member of Parliament
I am sending you this letter to express my concern over current “crisis” high water levels on the middle Great Lakes. Our government agencies are trying to blame this entirely on the weather but in fact the levels data and satellite imagery tells another story and points to decreased conveyance capacity in the St. Clair River so that water is simply not able to flow out of Lakes Michigan/ Huron and Georgian Bay. However, I am concerned about the lack of action on the part of our political leadership to reduce these levels through existing methods such as reducing inflows into Lake Superior from the Long Lac-Ogoki Diversion and increasing outflows through the Lake Michigan Diversion at Chicago. I understand that using these diversion canals will only reduce extreme levels by a moderate amount, but we need any help that we can get now! We want all options to be implemented.
My cottage is located at Big Bay (504231 Grey Road 1 in Georgian Bluffs, Ontario) on Georgian Bay. The water level has risen more than four feet since 2014. I am not sure my cottage will make it through this winter due to the waves created on the high water level by the wind. I have installed over 200 tons of large rocks and the waves have undermined these rocks with relative ease. I need your assistance to address the high water levels in Lake Michigan, Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. It is an emergency.
I ask you to formally request the Ontario government and Ontario Power Generation to immediately temporarily reduce the discharges from the Long Lac and Ogoki diversion. Further, I ask you to request that the US State Department work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to increase temporarily the Chicago diversion immediately. These measures would provide relief for all the Great Lake’s current high water level conditions. Furthermore, both Americans and Canadians want the International Joint Commission to establish an international working committee that includes riparian representatives to assess unreported changes that have been occurring in the St. Clair – Detroit River system. We need our governments and their agencies to focus their attention on ensuring that the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence River system is more resilient to climate extremes over the remainder of this century. Our Great Lakes need this emphasis today.
And the reply:
“From: “Great Lakes and Water Policy Section (MNRF)” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: August 7, 2020 at 2:33:57 PM EDT
To: “email@example.com” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: FW: Concerns Regarding High Water Levels in Lake Michigan, Lake Huron and Georgian Bay
Dear Mr. Kuhn:
Minister Yakabuski has forwarded me your email outlining your concerns regarding water levels on the Great Lakes, and Georgian Bay in particular. I appreciate hearing your input and recognize the challenges and frustrations that many property owners along the Great Lakes are experiencing as a result of shoreline flooding and erosion and am pleased to respond on behalf of the Ministry.
The International Joint Commission (IJC), a bi-national organization established by the governments of the United States and Canada under the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909, governs outflows from the Great Lakes. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) is a stakeholder in these discussions, and decisions and control reside with the IJC. Water levels are affected by a combination of factors such as rain, surface runoff and evaporation, as well as limited control that can be provided by the management of water control structures. Unintended potential impacts must be carefully considered when considering changes to management of water control structures. I assure you that the MNRF remains in close communication with the IJC and federal government representatives in Canada and the United States to support and provide input on Great Lakes water level management activities while continuing to bring forward Ontario’s interests, including the concerns you have identified in your email. For additional information about how the IJC control outflows, and for contact information, please visit their website.
I would like to clarify that the major dams involved in the Long Lac and Ogoki diversions are owned and operated by Ontario Power Generation, and managed in accordance with the Nipigon and Aquasabon Water Management Plans. It is important to understand that redirecting the diversions would likely provide limited relief to Lake Huron-Michigan shorelines, while creating potential downstream impacts to local infrastructure, hydropower and forestry operations, First Nations communities, and impacts to ecosystems that have adapted to the current regime.
I would also like to point out that for shoreline repair work resulting from high water levels, the MNRF provides a streamlined work permit process for permits under the Public Lands Act, to control for impacts to crown land (the beds of the Great Lakes). Conservation authority permits may also be required. More details can be found online.
Flooding is a serious problem and one that is becoming increasingly common as Ontario experiences more frequent extreme weather events. Protecting People and Property, Ontario’s Flooding Strategy, outlines the province’s next steps to reduce flood risks and help Ontarians be better prepared for flooding events. The Strategy introduces a series of new and enhanced actions that will reduce flood
risks and make our province better prepared for flooding events, better equipped to respond to them, and more capable of recovering quickly from them.
While we can’t prevent flooding, we can reduce the impacts when it happens. All levels of government, agencies and property owners have an important role to play in order to become better prepared for flooding.
Thank you again for writing.
Jen McKay, A/Manager
Water Resources Section
Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
Mr Kuhn’s response:
Dear Minister Yakabuski,
I am responding to your recent response to my letter regarding my concerns about the damages occurring on the shoreline at my property on Georgian Bay.
I have continued my research concerning what is happening and not happening to address our extreme IJC defined “Crisis high levels” on Georgian Bay. It appears that the IJC (International Joint Commission) is ignoring its’ own recommendations. In the IJC’s 1993 best water levels report they determined crisis high and low levels definitions for all the Great Lakes and made recommendations of actions to be taken during these “crisis” conditions. But right now, you Minister Yakabuski, and the IJC are ignoring those recommendations and worse you are denying the benefits and relief that they could provide. Why is our part of the Great Lakes being treated as the forgotten and ignored part of the Great Lakes? In the 1970’s, in the 1980’s and again for several years in the 1990’s the Long Lac and Ogoki diversions were reduced. There is a clear precedent for this. If you had required OPG to reduce those diversions into Lake Superior in 2014 when our water levels rose to “crisis alert” IJC defined conditions, our water levels would now be 10 cm or 4 in lower than they are now. That is not “limited relief”. And given that conditions are currently dry in northern Ontario, a 4% increase (due to reducing these diversions) in the Albany River flow should not cause any concerns.
And if the IJC had in 2014, stopped allowing deviations and discharges well beyond what their Regulation Plan 2012 allowed and instead reduced the discharges by a modest 90 Cu.M/S that would also have reduced Georgian Bay levels today by another 10 cm or 4 in. That is in total a 20cm or 8 in reduction that would provide very significant relief to all shoreline property owners on Georgian Bay, Lake Huron and Lake Erie. That is not a “few centimeters”. How can you possibly justify not supporting these measures? Why has the IJC acted aggressively to lower Lake Ontario levels? Why do we have a range of 6.5 feet and Superior’s is kept to 4 feet? Plan 2012 has criteria that the IJC and their Control Board are supposed to “balance” interests both upstream and downstream. But there is no balance in these decisions. There are only Billions of dollars being spent by shoreline property owners and municipalities and very significant wetlands and fish habitat loss occurring. For whose benefit? Shipping and hydro power. This has to stop.
I would truly appreciate hearing your response to the information that I have shared above. We need you to act now Minister before the harm and damages become insurmountable.
Your careful consideration of the needs of Ontarians who have property along the shore line of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay will be appreciated.
And below, watch the webinar on Extreme Water Levels on the Upper Great Lakes” for detailed information on our present situation.
IVDAARA has created the Island View-Sparlings Propane Group and it is only available to members. The group rate is negotiated annually and runs from September to June. New members must sign on by early September in order to join the group. Once you have joined the propane group, you must continue to be a paid-up IVDAARA member in order to stay in the Island View-Sparlings Propane Group.
The Island View-Sparlings Propane Group provides members with the following benefits:
• for 2020-21 the rate is 44.9 c/litre
free tank monitoring device for peace of mind run-out prevention
• customers 60 years + will receive their tank rental complimentary
• any existing customer referring a new customer to Sparlings will receive 200 free litres of propane
• .10 cents per litre off first delivery for all new customers switching to Sparlings
• $100.00 account credit for all new customers switching to Sparlings
• free tank installation and gas check for customers switching to Sparlings
• first year tank rental free to all customers switching to Sparlings
• 300 free litres for customers switching to Sparlings
The IVDAARA contact for the Island View-Sparlings Propane Group is Sherry Grant email@example.com.
IVDAARA would like to see the Kemble Arena renovated and upgraded so that it can be be re-purposed to a multi-purpose Community Centre. For this and related issues, attend the special Open House on Georgian Bluff’s new Recreation and Trails Master Plan on Thursday March 12th 5:30-7:30 at the Shallow Lake Arena.
The Saugeen Ojibway Nation is pressing a claim to ownership of government land across the entire Bruce Peninsula and a legally unique claim for Aboriginal title over the “water territory” around it — stretching from the international boundary with the United States in Lake Huron across to Georgian Bay — along with compensation that could amount, by their accounting, to $90 billion. The trial started in Toronto on April 25th 2019 but this suit was initially filed in 1994. Article from the National Post
Although this Fall newsletter covers local issues and coming events as usual, the focus is mainly on the nature and trails in our neighbourhood. We are truly lucky to live where we do, but are you aware of these: the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail, the North Keppel Amik Preserve at Big Bay or Greystone Trails in your backyard? We have information on them all! Read our most recent Fall Newsletterhere.
Staples will also accept Electronic Waste at 1077 10th Street West, Owen Sound 519-372-2228. No charge.
Used cabinets, doors, windows, lighting and plumbing fixtures etc in good condition are accepted at the Restore (Habitat for Humanity). Information above. No charge.
Tires are accepted at Stephen’s Auto Wreckers, 452288 County Road 24, Wiarton 519-534-0258. Open Monday -Friday 9am – 5 pm. Stop at the office for direction to disposal site. No charge.
Metal Recycling can be taken to Stephen’s Auto Wreckers, location as above. Anything with metal in it even if only partly metal is accepted*. Stop at office for direction to disposal site. No charge.
*They will not accept appliances, ie fridges, freezers, dehumidifiers or AC with freon unless item has been tagged that freon has been removed.
Hazardous Waste can be taken to the Owen Sound Public Works Department. 1900 20th Street East, Owen Sound. On specific dates only. Check website for dates and list of acceptable product. No charge. Owen Sound Garbage and Recycling
Items too large for curb side pickup and not suitable for one of the above locations can be taken to Miller Waste Systems 2085 20th Avenue East, Owen Sound.
Monday-Friday 8am-5pm, Saturday 8am-2pm. 519-372-1855
Closed Sunday and Holidays.
Cost is based on weight.
They will accept appliances with freon ie, fridge, freezer and AC for a fixed fee of $39.95 Miller Waste Management
Any items set out at the end of the drive for pick up by interested persons must be removed by 8 pm of the same day according to the Township of Georgian Bluffs. If items are not picked up in a timely manner the Township of Georgian Bluffs will deal with this through ‘Response Based Complaint’ form.
Call Township of Georgian Bluffs 519-376-2729 or Bylaw Compliance Complaint Form
Let us do our part to keep our beautiful area just that…BEAUTIFUL.