The ice is out, spring is breaking out, and thoughts of the cottage are in many of our minds. Loons are singing, kids are ready to jump and splash, and the thought of sitting on the deck with a cup of coffee or a glass of something nice seems very attractive.
The current lockdown in Ontario will slow our arrivals, but with care and just a bit of luck the season will open. We will again need to be careful with social contacts when we get to Birch Island but the place itself is an antidote to a long hard year and more.
The Executive of BIRPOA, your island association, has been monitoring several things for our benefit. Here are some we would like to share:
- A planning initiative by Parks Canada for the Rideau has been published. You may well want to look at it, as we have just until the end of April to comment. A number of cottagers feel it is too strongly slanted to boosting tourism and commercial development while deemphasizing protections for the lakes and environment. See it here and see how you can respond: https://www.rideauplan.ca/home
- Similarly, Rideau Lakes township and the county are in the process of a periodic plan revision. It is well along the way to completion. If you would like to read it, here is the final draft: https://www.rideaulakes.ca/grow/plans-programs/official-plan/1-official-plan-update-2020-final-public-draft/viewdocument/1106
- A number of lake associations have reported increased Gypsy moth activity. There are always a few of those critters around and cottage owners usually can take care of those individually, but we want to know if we face a larger issue. Here is some guidance, and if you find large numbers, LET US KNOW(email@example.com)
- Taxes have increased annoyingly for some; it is possible to protest those raises, but it is not always effective. You can find guidance here: https://www.mpac.ca/en/Homepage If you’d like to talk to someone who has done this, lets us know and we can connect you.
- And Hydro: changes, probable increases, but beyond our purview.
Ry Weisiger has been our volunteer ‘trail boss’ for years, mowing most of the trails, cutting up downed trees, improving pathways. Unfortunately Ry is in New Hampshire, unable to cross into Canada for now. We will need to find other ways to get the job done. Rory Gooderham and Chris Wagner–members of the Executive–have volunteered to do some of this, but we can use more volunteers. Chris has agreed to coordinate. firstname.lastname@example.org
More looking forward: Our wonderful island trails have been described as a ‘real treasure’ and they are certainly not commonplace. Many of the trails are owned by Birch Island Estates Ltd, the original developer of the island. Only one member of that company is still with us and the ownership future of the trails is quite uncertain, The Executive is exploring ways to ensure that the trails remain as they are, natural and undeveloped, for future generations. Previous efforts have allowed folks to obtain deedable rights of way; if successful, the new effort could do that and more. We may incur legal expenses, so having folks pay annual dues is very important!
The association bulletin board at the marina needs to be refreshed–and that is afoot.
The “Birch Island Branch Library” is another favorite destination. As was the case last year, it will probably need to stay closed for a bit longer because of the coronavirus, but we may be able to organize a return day or two.
We also need to watch closely to see if we can hold a live AGM (Annual General Meeting) this August. We hope so, as these sessions are always kind of fun and a chance to see friends and neighbors. They are also a moment to share ideas and think about good things for the island.
As always we would like to have more islanders participate in BIRPOA, certainly as members, but also to take active roles.(I would love to find a volunteer to handle our WordPress website.)
Expect a message soon from treasurer Vipool Desai about annual membership. Vipoool has created a mechanism to allow e-mail transfers of funds, MUCH easier than having to write and deliver a cheque.
On a sad note, John Feltmate tells us that James (Jim) Amell has passed away. Jim played a prominent role in the development of the island from the ’70s to about 2000. He installed septic systems, cleared land, did landscaping, and kept up many parts of the road system. Long a friendly and familiar figure, he purchased an interior lot and sometimes camped there with his family.
Like Ry, I too hope to see many of you this summer. Like Ry, I am still in the US. I do miss the island.
Bob Cavenagh – President for 2020
BIRPOA: the Birch Island Residential Property Owners Association