The process and implications of transferring ownership of Lake Margaret and associated lands to the city were outlined to residents of the lakeside subdivision in attendance Monday at city council’s reference committee meeting.
The update of the Lake Margaret Management Plan by city staff was deemed “a phenomenal presentation,” by one shoreline resident who added the process “restores a lot of our faith.”
The transfer will be implemented through an agreement between the city and St. Thomas developer Doug Tarry Limited and will incorporate the principles outlined in the plan and define responsibilities of the parties for resource monitoring and management and what passive recreational opportunities may be permitted in the subject area.
Included in Monday’s presentation was an overview of the 2016 water sampling program a key component of the management plan to ensure the biological integrity of the Lake Margaret ecosystem is maintained.
The sampling program was undertaken by Jennifer Dow, water conservation supervisor with the Kettle Creek Conservation Authority (KCCA). She indicated the lake was in good health, with results similar to those obtained in previous years.
In fact the water quality passes minimum requirements for swimming, although that is not a use permitted under the management area plan.
She did caution there is a need to monitor phosphorous levels, a byproduct of fertilizer runoff.
Recommended actions include the need for council to support sustainable development and ensure the highest value stormwater management for future development.
Moving forward, city manager Wendell Graves stressed the need to address shoreline stability; determine how best to deal with the burgeoning geese population; enforcing the no fishing regulation; and the introduction of plant material.
In the meantime, the aim is to strike an environmental stewardship committee which would report to city council. It would include members of council, city staff, developers, the KCCA and members of the public who would, among other things, develop an action plan and pursue funding opportunities for stewardship.
The decision to prohibit fishing in Lake Margaret was a recommendation of the 2010 Lake Margaret Environmental Plan and prompted a couple of observations from council.
“In my world, there should be fishing and canoeing,” said Coun. Steve Wookey.
“How do we enforce no fishing,” added Mayor Heather Jackson. “It has always been a concern.
Coun. Mark Tinlin questioned the cost of assuming Lake Margaret.
Graves conceded there will be costs, “but there are no magic rabbits at this time,” suggesting this is a detail to be dealt with during 2018 budget deliberations.
Lake Margaret resident David Collins praised city staff for the presentation noting “Our lake is in terrific hands. It’s a place where people want to come.”
Of greater concern for several residents is the burgeoning geese population.
“They pull up the grass and poop everywhere which stains driveways,” pointed out one resident.
Collins advised in one day he saw over 1,200 geese fly into the lake.
While not offering specifics, Graves advised “There are ways to deal with geese.”
However Ross Tucker, director of parks, recreation and property management, indicated geese control efforts at Waterworks Park appear to have had little impact.
Council will be apprised of progress on the management plan later in the fall, noted Graves.