Report on 7th AGM - July 11th
The Association’s Annual General Meeting was held on 11 July at - for the first time - the church in Blue Sea. Although attendance was down somewhat from previous years, the 55 members who did attend witnessed a very lively, frank, and fully bilingual discussion on a number of important issues.
The meeting started with a brief presentation from the outgoing President, Don Karn. Don explained that this year’s AGM would focus on members’ questions/concerns, an agenda item often given too little time at previous AGMs that had featured guest speakers. Don then summarized the key points of his annual written report. He concluded his comments by stressing the importance of individual residents/cottagers’ voicing their concerns directly to their respective municipal councillors, noting that in politics the “squeaky wheel” often gets the attention it deserves.
The Treasurer - John Turnbull - then tabled the financial report for the period ending 31 December 2014. John stated that the Association’s finances were in good order. He also explained how the Association obtained funding support from the municipalities, noting that our submissions were now based on specific projects and did not include requests for general support.
Following the Treasurer’s report, Don opened the floor to questions. The issue that garnered the most interest was the ongoing threat posed by invasive species. It was noted that Blue Sea Lake was already infested by Eurasian milfoil; that - due to its chemical composition - the lake was one of only a handful in the Outaouais region particularly vulnerable to an infestation of zebra mussels; and that boats were the principal means by which invasive species were transferred from one waterway to the next. Board members pointed out that to help control Eurasian milfoil, the Association had initiated a yellow buoy program to identify the location of milfoil beds, and that it had contracted with ABV des 7 to map the location of milfoil beds as a first step in getting provincial approval to install jute tarps to suppress (but not eliminate) the growth of these plants. As to preventing the introduction of other invasive species, they reported that they had spent the last year and a half trying to convince the municipalities to introduce a mandatory boat rinsing and access control system but had been stymied to date on this initiative. Don Karn indicated that the Board would continue to push for mandatory boat rinsing and urged all members to raise this matter with their councillors. It was also noted that - on several weekends - the Association had conducted a boater-orientated invasive species information campaign at the public boat ramps. The other issue discussed at length was the Association’s attempt to have ice fishing banned on Blue Sea Lake. Don noted that, although the municipalities had rejected this request, they had instituted an information and monitoring program to help mitigate the environmental risks posed by this activity. Mayor Fortin - who attended the Q&A portion of the meeting - indicated that there had been only a slight increase in the number of fish huts installed on the lake, possibly due to increased monitoring by provincial wildlife officials.
As a last item of business, the Assembly elected Jean Nelson, André Beauchemin, and Jean-Claude Jolicoeur to the Board of Directors, and renewed the two year mandates of Dick Ryan, John Turnbull, Bernard Asselin, and Francis Leblanc. They join sitting members Don Karn and Robert Duval to form the 2015/2016 Board of Directors.
We would like to thank all those who helped plan, organize, and support the meeting as well as all of those who were able to attend. The draft minutes of the meeting will be posted on our website once they have been reviewed by the Board of Directors.
Two Board Members Step Aside
As those present at the 7th Annual General Meeting of the Association are aware, Denis Nadeau, a member of the Board of Directors for the last four years, and Marlène Thonnard, a charter member of the Board (first elected at the 2009 AGM), have both decided to take a much deserved break as Directors.
During his tenure, Denis - with the unstinting support of his wife, Marie-Paul - organized and ran four very successful membership campaigns; ensuring that all past, present, and potential members were contacted every year. His tireless yet unassuming efforts in this regard are largely responsible for our strong membership roll. A true team player, Denis also cheerfully devoted many hours to other Association projects including the annual tree giveaway program and last year’s door-to-door information campaign.
Like Denis, Marlène has dedicated much time and effort to the Association, Not only did she serve as the Board’s Secretary/Treasurer for one year and as its Secretary for several years, she also spearheaded our Education Subcommittee. As a former teacher and regional school board administrator, Marlène was in her element when developing and implementing our very successful youth training program. Local students from the Reine Perrault Elementary School in Blue Sea and the Ste-Croix School in Messines benefited greatly from her innovative ideas and infectious enthusiasm. Through Marlène’s efforts, these future taxpayers and leaders now have a very good idea of what a watershed is … and how to protect it.
In addition to fulfilling their responsibilities as Board members, both Denis and Marlène hosted several Directors’ meetings in their homes, thereby contributing to the general conviviality and positive nature of our get-togethers. Although they are stepping down from the Board, we are very lucky in that both have indicated that they plan to remain committed members and ambassadors. Without question, our Association is much stronger today as a result of their contributions.
Denis and Marlène, thank you very, very much for all your hard work.
Aquatic Invasive Species information Campaign – Update
As reported in the July edition of Shorelines, our association undertook an information campaign at the public boat ramps this summer in an effort to educate boaters on the threat posed by invasive species and the action they can take to help prevent their spread. As part of this campaign, volunteers interviewed 116 boaters over a period of five weekends, stretching from the start of fishing season in early May to the end of Quebec’s construction holiday at the beginning of August. During these interviews, boaters were asked a number of questions regarding their point of origin, boating habits, invasive species awareness, openness to a mandatory boat rinsing program, etc… Although this was an informal survey conducted over only a portion of the “boating season”, it did provide some very interesting data:
- during the weekends in question, the boat ramp in Messines was used by more than twice as many boaters as that in Blue Sea;
- half of those using the boat ramps were visitors to the area while the other half were either local residents or cottagers, but predominately the former;
- there was an even split between pleasure boaters and fishers;
- only 20% of the boaters planned to use their vessels solely in Blue Sea Lake;
- 60% of the boaters had a good to very good knowledge of invasive species while the other 40% knew little about this threat;
- although 60% of the boaters indicated that they had cleaned their vessels, only 30% had used high pressure washers to do so (the much preferred method); and
- of the 94 boaters who expressed an opinion, almost 80% supported the idea of some form of mandatory boat rinsing program.
We were pleased to find that the level of invasive species awareness was fairly high and that a majority of boaters interviewed understood the need to clean their boats. We were also very pleased with the level of support for a mandatory boat rinsing program - a program that is particularly needed given the number of transient boaters using Blue Sea Lake, a lake already infested with Eurasian Milfoil and an ideal habitat for Zebra Mussels.
Again, many thanks to the volunteers who gave up their weekends to conduct this campaign: Bernard Asselin, Royal Joanis, André Beauchemin, Benoit Belisle, Claude Perrier, Conrad Lafontaine, Pierre Hur-tubise, Jean-Claude Jolicoeur, Rose Ryan, Morris Richardson, Don Karn, John Turnbull, Francis LeBlanc, Robert Duval, Jean Nelson and Dick Ryan.
Many thanks as well to Kevin Boushey for distributing information packages to clients of the Messines Marina and to Mélanie L’Écuyer at the Blue Sea Presbytère who distributed these packages to users of the Blue Sea ramp throughout the summer.
Be part of the solution:
- Thoroughly inspect and clean your boat before launching it in a different waterway, and
- Urge your local councillor/mayors to fast track the implementation of a mandatory boat rinsing program to protect our watersheds.
It's That Time of Year Again
As Thanksgiving approaches, don't forget to check out our Fall Tips on how to prepare your cottage/property for the cold months ahead.