Author Archives: gordyland

Brainless Bulb Ban

There’s a widely believed misunderstanding about the incandescent light bulb. It’s true they’re very inefficient at producing light, and perhaps only 2% of the electricity consumed actually turns into light. However the unused 98% is not “wasted” but turns into heat. During the 8-9 months/year we heat our homes that 98% is not wasted, and in fact helps reduce the cost of whatever other heating system we use. When we add to those 8-9 months, the chilly evenings (when we need light) of early & late summer, we’re probably using the warmth from light a full 10 months/year.

An incandescent bulb is basically a tiny space heater with an “on” light that we find pleasant and useful.

Absolutely everyone who uses statistics to show the waste of incandescent light bulbs ignores the benefits of the heat that is harvested in buildings that require heating. In fact, 100% of the electricity used in a house (except for that which escapes to the outside) becomes heat. The First Law of Thermodynamics is the principle of the conservation of energy, which states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed.

During heating season, every single appliance in a house, even a refrigerator, is essentially running free of charge, since all the electricity consumed eventually turns into heat. The Wentworth Gazette hereby offers a reward of $100 to anyone who proves this wrong.

In fact, here’s another $100 if you can prove there’s any such thing as a “more efficient” electric heater. If an electric heater is, for instance, 80% efficient, that means the remaining 20% gets wasted. And how does waste happen – as heat! (80% reaped + 20% wasted = 100% efficient) In order to get the full benefit of the “waste” heat, a fan can be used to push air around so the temperature gets evened out. Of course the fan itself will be operating free of charge, and contributing its own little bit of heat.

Also, the times when we’re “wasting” electricity are exactly when we have electricity to waste. In summer the reservoirs up north are overflowing with melted snow and ice and there’s an overcapacity we have no way to use. This can be clearly seen in Hydro Quebec rates, where industry is enticed with summertime rates of $2.52 compared to $6.21 the rest of the year. If at some point in the future people get the same cheap electricity as companies, our July-August prices could also drop by 60%, thereby nullifying whatever advantage CFL and LED lighting have during the 2 short months when our nights are warm.

Finally, those pushing for compact fluorescent bulbs are also ignoring the environmental damage and human cost in China where the mercury is mined and processed. The CFL is another form of NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard). If we don’t see the human costs of mining, processing, and manufacturing these bulbs, then we feel free to ignore it. The undervalued yuan is a mechanism for damaging the health of impoverished Chinese miners and factory workers, while we field-strip mercury into Canadian garbage dumps where it will remain toxic for centuries. The real costs of this technology are being buried under the carpet because uninformed people find it easier to “do something good for the environment” by spending money to buy something new, rather than getting informed and doing a bit of work themselves. It would be far more helpful for everyone to simply put better weatherstripping on doors and widows.

The brainless bulb ban is another flagrant example of regulation by bureaucrats who don’t know science. Just because a certain piece of policy makes sense in California doesn’t make it right for us here. Please forward this link to anyone you think might be interested.

eureka

Municipal Website

The contents of the current Municipal website are flimsy & arbitrary. A good website costs money. The current budget is $25 thousand/year for the website, Municipal flyer & translations.

Our Municipal website should contain a number of basic things, such as a searchable database of all civic laws & regulations, downloadable permit applications, agenda for upcoming public Council Meetings, minutes of previous Council Meetings, the Municipal budget, tenders & contracts, etc.

[UPDATE: The new administration has clearly posted the budgets for Wentworth HERE and HERE, contracts HERE, full Council Meeting minutes HERE.]

Wentworth is part of the MRC d’Argenteuil, which consists of 8 other Municipalities. They are all small, except for Lachute. Wentworth and the 7 other small Municipalities have the same basic website needs. We could all hire one company to provide the same basic template. In fact, there are hundreds of small Municipalities with the same website needs, and it’s a waste for us all to have custom websites. We could have big permanent savings – and better websites – with a little bit of organization and coordination. Since Wentworth has about 800 registered voters, if we save $20 thousand/year for the next 4 years, we would save $100 each and have a better website.

We can also save on translations. We are officially bilingual, and want to safeguard our status. Translating can be expensive. However, only a small portion of our needs have to be high quality translations. Most of the rest only need to be understandable. The way to save is by using Google Translate. This method gives an immediate free translation, and any of our office employees can do the rest. A native French speaker can polish a document originally generated in English, and a native English speaker can polish what was originally a French document. The long slow Winter months are excellent times for laying down the groundwork that will give us savings for years to come.

Proposed Environmental Regulation

UPDATED 23 NOVEMBER 2013
UPDATED 17 NOVEMBER 2013
PUBLISHED 15 NOVEMBER 2013

MANDATE FOR CHANGE
A number of environmental laws in Wentworth should be changed. The strong vote received from taxpayers who want change, gives a mandate to our representatives to make the requested changes.

Other changes should also be made as soon as possible. For example, the law giving Inspectors the right to enter any home without advance warning, and to force taxpayers to answer any question, should be repealed immediately. We don’t need such Draconian measures in Wentworth.

Below is a 1st draft of proposed new environmental regulations. Please make comments to help improve these suggestions. If the comments are closed, it’s because the link has been discovered by spambots. Please look for another live comment section, for instance the “Who Should I Vote For?” page is currently spam-free. If you can’t find a live comment section, please send emails to: editor (at) WentworthGazette (dot) com

PROPOSED ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATION

IMPLEMENTATION SCHEDULE
1. The year 2014 is used for consultation and research.
2. The year 2015 is used for conditional implementation of the new policies to see if problems arise.
3. Starting January 1, 2016, if no problems have been found with the new regulations, they are adopted as permanent changes to environmental law in Wentworth.
4. Any law can be reversed at any time, if it is found to endanger the health of our waters.

WATERFRONT BUFFER ZONE
For relevant science, see article “The No-Go Don’t-Touch Zone Along Lakefront“.
5. The proposed new waterfront buffer zone is 2 metres for flat land, increasing by one metre for each 10 degrees of slope. (For example, if the slope is 30 degrees, the buffer zone will be 2+3=5 metres.)
For additional science see article showing that Quebec mandates 3 metres buffer zone alongside agriculture where there is heavy use of fertilizer, manure and herbicide. Two metres for cottagers is more than enough.

TRADITIONAL CRIBS FOR DOCKS & BOATHOUSES
For relevant science, see article “Cribs & Bureaucrats
6. Cribs made of logs and rocks according to Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources guidelines will be legalized in January 2015. Wentworth has the authority to allow this in the smaller lakes. Legal research will have to be done to determine if Wentworth has the authority to allow this on Lake Louisa, or more to the point, if the Quebec Ministry of the Environment has any recourse against Wentworth for allowing this. If the Ministry has recourse against Wentworth, then it’s proposed to send the Ministry a letter, as soon as possible, declaring our intention to authorize cribs starting January 2015, and the letter will include a copy of the Ministry’s own letter, which states there is no science supporting Quebec’s prohibition of cribs. Our letter of intention will state that unless Quebec declares they will oppose our new policy, we will proceed with its implementation. This way we avoid long delays while Quebec changes its legislation, we protect ourselves from recourse, and we get sensible policy at the start of 2015.

7. Despite the above general guidelines and time delays, some environmental regulations become effective immediately.

TRIMMING HEDGES, BUSHES & PRUNING TREE BRANCHES
8. From October 1 through March 30, all bush trimming, hedge trimming and tree branch pruning in buffer zones is legal. Bushes, hedges and trees are considered most valuable for their roots, which help stabilize the soil. Pruning and trimming, during dormant season, has no negative impact on roots. (It remains illegal until January 2016 to remove roots, or cut/kill trees, within the current buffer zone of 10-15 metres depending on the slope of the ground.)

LAWNS
9. During the two-year phase-in period of the new laws, it is legal to cut pre-existing lawns to not less than 8 cm in height. It is not legal to plant new lawns within the current buffer zone, until the new buffer zone is permanently adopted in January 2016. Although not legislated, mulching mowers are heavily recommended. The finely cut grass remains in place to become fertilizer for its own roots, and the layer of mulched grass bits inhibits evaporation, and precludes the need for watering. If the lawn is not watered, the roots will also grow deeper and hold the soil better. A mulching mower saves raking, watering and fertilizing, and is better at preventing erosion.

TREE CUTTING
For relevant science, see article “Falling Autumn Leaves“.
10. During the two-year phase-in period, it is legal to cut down trees that are not within current buffer zone and lateral boundaries, with the following restrictions:
10.1 No more than 5% of trees on a property can be cut in any one year.
10.2 Before cutting any tree, a photo is taken and sent to the Municipality. If the Municipality does not object within two weeks, the citizen can proceed to cut the tree without the need for any permit.
10.3 Any tree can be cut without waiting two weeks if it threatens power lines or buildings. Even so, a photo must be taken before the tree is cut, and the photo sent to the Municipality.
Anyone without easy access to digital photography can ask the Municipality to come and take photographs on their behalf. The Municipality will maintain a list of teenagers to take photographs at low cost, so that Inspectors don’t spend their time traveling around taking photographs.

LEGAL THREATS, WARNINGS & FINES
11. No environmental tickets or fines will be issued during the two-year phase-in period. Also, no lawyers’ letters will be sent, or Municipal letters with the heading “Without Prejudice”. Only if gentle pressure fails to resolve a genuine danger, will additional measures be considered.

The essence of our new environmental policies is based on “good faith“. If citizens don’t act in good faith, and if they do illegal things in the wrong place or at the wrong time, we will all lose the presumption of good faith, and we’ll end up back where we were, with aggressive regulation disconnected from common sense, and penalties, fines and lawyers letters.

We don’t want to be “nosy” neighbours running to the Municipality to complain about our neighbour’s behaviour. We want to be good neighbours, taking into account the concerns of those who live next door. We all have a lot to gain by being sensible about the environment, and respectful of our neighbours.

1st Meeting, new Mayor & Council

Monday 11 November was quite the night.

As luck would have it, Winter landed in Wentworth that afternoon, and at least four vehicles skidded off the road into ditches, and one snow-laden tree fell across Louisa Road.

Nonetheless, about 50 of us were there to enjoy the moment as the new Councillors and Mayor were sworn in.

We should take pride in democracy at work in Wentworth. We had a voter turnout of 63.6% which is among the highest in Quebec. The Wentworth Gazette has asked the media relations department of Elections Quebec to confirm our placement, and as soon as they answer, we’ll report it here.

In the coming months the Wentworth Gazette will try to formulate some suggestions for improving environmental regulation. We’ll post proposals, and people can respond with their suggestions.

Congratulations to Wentworth!

Usually the act of voting seems about as useful as throwing pennies in shopping-mall fountain.

This time our votes made a difference, and we’ve elected a variety of strong-willed, independent, knowledgeable people to Council.

Enough can’t be said about our new Mayor Marcel Harvey. He fought alone for well over a year, spending his own money, and paying the emotional cost of heavy social and legal pressures brought against him by the bullies at City Hall.

We made Democracy work here!

Now it’s time for relaxation and celebration.

Here are the results.

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COMMENT FROM DEBBIE ANDERSON

I want to thank everyone who voted. The turnout here in Wentworth was remarkable! There were two VERY tight races with Ron Price beating Jay Brothers by only 1 vote and Normand Champoux taking the win from Jean Lipari by 1 vote.
Many thanks to everyone who voted for me and especially those of you who were out there helping at the polls for hours on end. Thanks Marion Hodge and Roy Nelson!
I promised to work for the community for the next four years and you can count on me to do just that. My number is 450-533-4745 and my email address is debwightanderson@gmail.com . I am always willing to listen and help if I am able.
Thanks again, Debbie

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COMMENT FROM SEAN NOONAN

I would like to thank everyone who put their faith in me, and I will not let you down. A record number of voters came out, and their desire for change rang loud and clear. We will get to work this week on ensuring that Wentworth will again be a place of harmony, and the municipal office a place of cooperation and respect for all.
Thank you again

Sean Noonan
450.533.5483

Wentworth: a Family Business

NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT
The Municipality of Wentworth is a $2 million/year business, and one married couple holds three out of the four top jobs. Mr. Kasprzyk (Mr. K) is both the Fire Chief and the Mayor. Mrs. Kasprzyk (Mrs. K) is the Director of Urbanism. (The fourth top job is the General Manager, their good friend, Paula Knudsen.)

Mr. & Mrs. K together make about $95 thousand/year. Paula makes about $85 thousand. These totals include wages, untaxed payments, pensions, sick days, insurance premiums, other benefits, extras for attending meetings, etc., but not counting overtime. These amounts appear in various places in the budget. Excluding the benefits, Mrs. K gets about $40/hour and Paula about $50/hour. Not bad for people without university degrees.

Subsequent to the last elections in November 2009, from 2010-2013 Paula has enjoyed a salary increase of over 6% per year – total 19% calculated on base wages ($70k/$59k). Mrs. K has garnered an increase of more than 11% per year – total 34% on the same basis over the 3-year period ($59k/$44k).

Most Wentworth residents are seasonal, and as a result, Summer is the busiest time of year for Wentworth employees. However, Mrs. K and Paula work only 32.5 hours per week and quit at 4 PM. They do not work weekday evenings or weekends, even though some of us would find that a more convenient time to apply for permits or transact other municipal business.

In addition to their short hours and large pay, they both get 6 weeks paid vacation per year.

It should be noted that Wentworth is next to Lachute, which according to the Montreal Gazette on September 15, 2013, is the poorest city in Quebec, with 24.6% low-income households. This means we are sitting on top of a large pool of potential workers who would be thrilled to do the same work as our employees for one-half the income.

PEEKING UNDER THE HOOD
Here’s an extract from the official Wentworth Minutes, showing how things work.
Mr. K pays Paula
You can see that the Mayor (Mr. K) is the person who signs Paula’s contract.

In this next extract you can see Mr. K and Paula signing for Mrs. K.
Since a married couple is a legal unit, Mr. K is both boss and employee, payor and payee.
(1) Mr. K & Paula pay Mrs. K (2) Mr & Mrs K not same name
You may also have noticed in the above extract that Mrs. K is referred to as Mrs. Bennett instead of Mrs. Bennett-Kasprzyk. Whether done intentionally or not, it would be difficult to know from the Minutes that the person referred to is the Mayor’s wife, and that there may be a fundamental conflict of interest.

Here, in an earlier letter, you can see Mrs. K using her full name.
B-K

You can see here in January 2011 that Mrs. K began to get paid extra for what was formerly part of her regular job.
$40 bennett

Since these Minutes have the force of law, one can’t help wondering about the true legal surname of Mrs. K, and if there’s an issue, exactly whose responsibility it is to make sure the Minutes conform with the law. It would have to be either Paula, Mrs. K herself, or the Mayor, Mr. K.

FAMILY SECRETS
Apart from the financial gravy train enjoyed by this trio, there were other changes. It wouldn’t do any good if junior employees on the inside were to speak out, so in 2011 they brought in what is essentially a policy of omertà, hidden inside a Work Conditions contract.

L’employé s’engage également à ne tenir aucun commentaire public qui puisse nuire à la municipalité. Toute déclaration ou prise de position transmise à un média d’information ou à son représentant doit être préalablement autorisée par le maire.

“The employee also agrees not to hold any public comments that can harm the municipality. Any statement or position transmitted to news media or his representative must be authorized by the mayor. ”

In other words, if you speak out, you break the work conditions contract, and you can be fired.

It should be emphasized we’re a small municipality of about 500 families. Why is any kind of criticism forbidden? Would we rather have transparency from our employees, or do we want them to bite their tongues, and only put out info pre-approved by the Mayor?

ONE BRAVE MAN
When Marcel Harvey – the one council member brave enough to begin voting against the family business (see above) – published factual information about how the council was operating, the Mayor’s Office posted a threatening “News Release” on the front page of the Municipal website. The release quoted Mayor Kasprzyk as saying that by: “calling into question the work, competence, and integrity of municipal employees or elected officials, he is exceeding the boundaries of democratic expression“.

Read it again. Mayor Kasprzyk is using municipal resources (our tax money) to say that criticism is “exceeding the boundaries of democratic expression“.

Marcel Harvey wasn’t an employee, so he couldn’t be fired. However he was a Councillor, so Mr. K did as much as he could, and kicked him out of caucus. However the so-called “caucus” consisted of all 5 other councillors plus the Mayor. For daring to criticize what was going on, he was banished from the meetings and sent threatening lawyer’s letters by bailiff.

The Mayor’s campaign of intimidation was effective and caused severe stress in Marcel Harvey’s household – to the extent they were anxious to sell their house and escape Wentworth. He ended up having to get his own lawyer, simply to be allowed to attend the meetings.

It doesn’t cost the Mayor anything to send out as many threatening lawyers’ letters as he wants (we pay with our taxes), and if anyone has the presumption to sue him back for what he’s doing, we also pay for his defense – since the policy he introduced has a regulation for this purpose.

la municipalité s’engage à lui procurer et à payer les services d’un avocat pour assurer sa défense … et à payer le montant ordonné par le jugement, ainsi que les frais de la cause

When Mr. K took power the Municipal legal costs were comfortably contained within a $7,200/year annual retainer. Now, 3 short years later, our Municipality is budgeting more than triple that amount – $25,000/year for financing actions against citizens like you and me,

HOW DID WE GET HERE?
The people ultimately responsible for our municipality are the Councillors we elected in the last elections in November 2009. Without a majority of them signing off on what has taken place, it couldn’t have happened. They had the responsibility, and they each received about $6 thousand per year for their role. We chose them, and they chose to support the policies.

Jay Brothers, who is a former Councillor, gave his opinion about the current group of Councillors in a comment to the Wentworth Gazette. “The mayor has a rope and the rest follow tied to the rope if someone speaks out duct tape is applied to his mouth, and his hands are tied. The motto is be quiet and cash your cheque.”

On your ballot on November 3rd, you’ll be able to vote for 6 council positions and 1 mayor. In order to figure out who should get your votes, you may want to keep in mind the names of those up for re-election who supported the current regime over the last four years – and if you want change, vote for their opponents.

You could also check in with this page, and if you feel like it, print out a copy to bring along on voting day. Finally, just because you’re reading this, it doesn’t mean other people have. Please send it to anyone else who may find it useful.

[If any elected official or employee wishes to correct or comment on this post, they're invited to do so. If no such comment or correction is received, then the contents are presumed to be a fair and true representation of these aspects of Municipal affairs in Wentworth.]

VOTE HERE on 27 October or 3 November

VOTE HERE on 27 October or 3 November

Falling Autumn Leaves

First of all, we’d like to acknowledge the work of the volunteers who take part in the lake water quality studies. Nothing said below is meant to imply that it’s not worthwhile to monitor the quality of water in our lakes. Even super-athletes need annual medical checkups.

The organization responsible for lake monitoring at Louisa is called the Lake Louisa Property Owners’ Association (LLPOA). The main scientific authority used by the LLPOA at their website is a group of publications called Natural Resources Facts, put out by the University of Rhode Island, College of Resource Development.

Here’s a link to the University of Rhode Island original article called Algae in Aquatic Ecosystems. Following are some quotes.

ALGAE ARE NORMAL & HEALTHY
Algae are necessary and beneficial to aquatic eco-systems. They form the food and energy basis for nearly all other aquatic organisms. They are part of a healthy lake ecosystem … all lake organisms depend either directly or indirectly on algae as a food source.

BLOOMS ARE NATURAL
It is important to realize that algae occur in natural cycles of abundance in aquatic ecosystems. Algal populations are abundant in spring and early summer. As long as algae do not reach nuisance levels, they play an important, essential role in a healthy aquatic ecosystem.

EXCESS PHOSPHOROUS CAUSES NUISANCE ALGAE
The best way to limit algal growth is to limit the amount of nutrients that enter the lake …phosphorus is considered the limiting nutrient in most fresh water bodies.

AUTUMN LEAVES ARE THE SINGLE BIGGEST SOURCE OF PHOSPHOROUS
Now we turn to other sources of science.

In a classic 1979 study in New Hampshire, published in Ecology Volume 60, Meyer & Likens found that 48% of total annual input of phosphorus happened during the 10 days associated with autumn leaf fall. (Transport and transformation of phosphorus in a forest stream ecosystem)

British online publication World of Water says that, “Falling leaves in large numbers could clog up ponds and cause a nutrient overload in autumn. This can lead to algal blooms in spring.

The newest article is in the August 2013 issue of Cambridge University’s International Journal of Limnology, called Catchment Vegetation Can Trigger Lake Dystrophy Through Changes In Runoff Water Quality. It concludes that, “surface runoff from forest areas can significantly affect lake chemistry [and] dystrophication”.

In other words, contrary to popular opinion, the wild and wooly look of a forested shoreline can be exactly what hastens the decline of our treasured lakes.

Here’s what nobody tells you. Roots are tiny foragers. They scrounge around underground collecting the chemicals plants need to grow. Some of these chemicals get transformed into wood and the rest become leaves. Before winter, our trees go dormant and the leaves fall off as waste. Each dead leaf is a concentrated chunk of fertilizer. As far as the lake is concerned, these colourful tidbits aren’t much different than manure (OMG).

SO WHAT
We’re not going to denude our forests (and that would cause even worse problems), but there’s nothing wrong with our established lawns running down close to the lake. Grassy strips provide good buffer zones against nutrient overload from Autumn leaves and other forest detritus. If you have a lawn, don’t fertilize, use a mulching mower, be proud of the way you’re helping the lake – and hope for sensible municipal regulation.

To prevent erosion at the edge of the lake, the best solution is to plant (or let grow) some shrubs and bushes along the first metre or two. If the bushes grow too high or wide, they can be safely pruned in November when they’re dormant in preparation for Winter. Here again are the pictures that the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources provides as examples of “best practices”.

MNR Best Practices

MNR Best Practices

MNR Best Practices

Cribs & Bureaucrats

WHO’S RUNNNING THE ASYLUM?

I wanted to build a dock and was informed that cribs are no longer legal. I was surprised at this, because there’s no more natural part of our lake environment than trees and rocks. I couldn’t imagine any possible way they could be harmful.

Below please find 4 installments in this saga.
1. My back-and-forth with the Quebec Ministry of the Environment
2. What Ontario thinks of cribs
3. What Canada thinks of cribs
4. What the USA Environmental Protection Association thinks of cribs

Enjoy!

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EMAILS WITH THE QUEBEC MINISTRY OF THE ENVIRONMENT

ME
Could you please direct me to a scientific source showing the adverse effects of using cribs made of rocks and logs in a healthy lake?

THEM
In order to answer your demand dated July 13th, we would like to inform you that your demand has been transferred to our regional office in Montréal, who will answer you as soon as possible.

ME
Thank you for your email. My question doesn’t depend on the region. My question is about the science used by MDDEFP. Tree trunks and rocks are a natural part of the Quebec aquatic environment. Tree trunks and rocks are the traditional materials used in Quebec to make cribs as foundation for docks and boathouses.

Quebec law says that docks and boathouses must be supported by metal pilings, not by cribs. Pilings are more expensive, require heavy machinery, and introduce metal into the water. Cribs are 100% natural, and a handyman can make a crib by himself, without machinery.

I notice the bottom of your email says, “Pensons a l’environnement!”. That is what I am doing. I’m writing you to find out the scientific basis for this law. I am asking about science, and the answer should be in a published academic article or research study. Please send my request to a MDDEFP scientist who can tell me where to find the scientific study on which the law is based.

THEM
You indicate in your email that Quebec law requires the platforms be supported on metal pilings. For your information, permission to build a dock by a citizen does not fall within the jurisdiction of MDDEFP but the municipality. In the case of a citizen who wants to set up a dock, MDDEFP acts only as of the water area of the state manager if the platform is implemented on a stream of public property.
[E.G. Big lakes like Louisa, yes, smaller lakes like Dunany, no.]

ME
I’m sorry if I was not clear. I’m not asking a legal question, but a scientific question. I understand the hypothesis that a crib made of rocks and logs might negatively impact aquatic life. What I’m trying to learn is the science that supports the hypothesis. I presume some biologists have conducted experiments, and their papers have been published in journals, but I’ve had no success in researching the matter for myself. Is it possible for you to help direct me to the relevant research?

ME AGAIN
I sent you an email on July 24 and I have not received a response from you. I am writing to find out why. Have you not yet had time to do research? Are you not the person I should ask? Does the lack of response means that scientific research I am looking for does not exist? Please let me know if you are able to help me, and if not, where should I look.

THEM
In response to your email of 2 August for the construction of a dock on crib, we wish to inform you that your application has been forwarded to the Water Policy Department of the Ministry.

ME (GOING THROUGH ACCESS TO INFORMATION)
I tried to get information from MDDEFP and nobody has provided the documents that I requested. I hereby make a formal request through access to information.

I am writing to find the basis for the decision MDDEFP (2.3.2 Licence of Occupation – Art. 10, Regulations), which prevents citizens from the construction of a dock on crib (crib dock). I presume that this law is based on science, and I would like you to send scientific or other justification for this law to me. To save time in the process, there is no reason for you to tell me that the cribs cause loss of fish and wildlife habitat unless you send me the scientific research that supports this type of speculation. If this kind of unproven speculation is the only basis of the law, please confirm that the law has no scientific basis.

THEM
We received your request and will reply within 20 days.

THEM
As allowed by the law, we need an additional delay of 10 days.

THEM
After verification, we have been informed that the government doesn’t have one single document providing scientific support for its policy on protection of waterways and flood plains.

“Apres verification, nous sommes informes que le Ministere ne detient aucun document portant sur la justification scientifique de la Politique de protection des rives, du littoral et des plaines inondables.”

(For a full copy of the letter see the article called “Don’t Read This Post”.)

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ONTARIO: LOG CRIBS FOR DOCKS
Government of Ontario, Ministry of Natural Resources

DO I NEED A PERMIT?
A Work Permit is Not required for the following:
- crib docks where the crib or combination of cribs (i.e. footprint on lake bottom) occupies less than 15 sq m (160 sq ft), and clean rocks from dry land are used

ONTARIO: LOG CRIBS FOR IMPROVING FISH HABITAT
(Canadian Wildlife Service & Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources)
Log cribs are usually made of green cedar logs fastened together in a crib shape and held down with rocks or concrete blocks. Log cribs are often placed on the ice during the winter months and left to drop to the bottom during spring breakup. They work best in inland lakes. However, they can interfere with navigation if they’re not placed in a suitable spot.

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CANADA: CRIBS MADE OF LOGS AND ROCKS
Fisheries and Oceans Canada www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca
“Where cribs are built from timbers and are filled with rock, it is best if the crib is open-faced. Open-faced cribs without solid planking provide fish and other aquatic organisms spaces to hide from predators. It is best if cribs are placed at least 2 metres out from the average annual high-water mark.”

“Docks and boathouses are acceptable if there is bridging between cribs or poles that allows water to circulate. Vertical planking is not recommended along the sides of a dock because it can restrict water movement.

“If your project requires rocks, they must be clean and free of soil. Rocks must not be taken from the lake or river bottom, or the shoreline. Removal of rocks from these areas could destroy fish habitat and result in charges under the Fisheries Act.

“If your dock requires a concrete abutment, this should be located entirely on the upland property, above the average annual high-water mark.

“If you are planning to use pressure treated lumber for decking, all cutting, end sealing, staining, etc. should be done well back from the water. The wood should be completely dry before being attached to the dock structure. Also, never use creosote treated wood in or near water. These practices will help to reduce the amount of contaminants released into the waterbody. Use untreated cedar or hemlock timbers for structures below the average annual high-water mark. When submerged, these timbers will last a lifetime.

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PLACING LOG CRIBS IN LAKES FOR IMPROVING FISH HABITAT
Artificial Structures for Fish Cover
Environmental Protection Agency, April 2004

Structural features are important in helping to maintain diverse, healthy lake ecosystems and in maintaining gamefish and non-gamefish populations. Structure provides places for fish to hide from predators, shade from the hot summer sun, nesting and spawning habitat, and places for food organisms to live and grow.

Fish like to hide – especially when bigger fish and other predators are seeking a meal. Without hiding places, populations of young fish and the smaller fish species are at risk of being significantly reduced by predation. Ultimately, this can lead to an imbalanced fish population and reduction in gamefish yields.

Fish also like to keep cool. That’s why you’ll often see fish seeking refuge from the hot summer sun under docks, amongst rock outcroppings, and within lily beds.

And of course fish need to eat and reproduce. Algae and other organisms (including bacteria, zooplankton, and aquatic insects), which are important fish foods, use physical and biological structure as growth substrates or habitat areas. Depending on the fish species, physical and biological features are also used for nesting and spawning.

Log cribs filled with rocks are complex structures. That is, they contain a high number of surfaces, holes, and hiding places to maximize areas available for hiding and food growth. They are heavy enough to withstand waves and shifting currents, and are made of non-toxic local natural materials that will not significantly deteriorate in a short time.

Although log cribs are typically used to support docks, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency also suggests placing log cribs at other places in lakes as a form of inexpensive long-term habitat enhancement. Care should be taken to not place log cribs underwater where they are a danger to swimmers, boaters, or skiers; that is, away from swimming areas and boating lanes, and deep enough to allow safe boat passage (at least 4 feet below the water surface.) It also may be wise to mark the location with a buoy or other highly visible object.

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(Any bureaucrats reading this, at any level of government, please note, there’s a comment section wide open for you to use. If you disagree with anything here, leave a reply. We’ll be happy to publish it. If you don’t leave a reply, we have the right to believe you can’t find anything wrong in this article.)

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Crib image

Stay tuned and check back often. Lots of news coming here in the next few weeks.

The No-Go Don’t-Touch Zone Along Lakefront

BUREAUCRATS GONE WILD?

Wentworth says that we have to leave a 10 meter buffer zone around all our lakes. For the old folk, this means that we can’t touch anything growing within 33 feet of the lake (apart from a path to get to the lake). We are under strict orders to let this all grow wild. If we cut a branch, trim a bush, or mow a lawn, we can get a ticket of $450, and be threatened with a fine of $300 per day until we replant. If you don’t believe me, call our bureaucrats at 450-562-0701

What this means, practically speaking, is that we lose the use of most of our waterfront, and waterfront is precisely the reason we got our lakefront properties in the first place. A typical lot can be 100 feet wide X 100 feet deep. If we can’t use the first 33 feet, that means we’re losing the use of 1/3 of our property.

This seems very severe. It would be logical to think there’s a big danger involved. Surely it’s not just bureaucrats gone wild.

To figure this out I’ve become Wentworth’s biggest expert on buffer zones, studying research from all around the world.

The first inescapable conclusion is that all the research in the world has to do with buffer zones where farmland is close to water. The biggest concern is pesticide getting into the water. Of course, in Wentworth there is no farmland, so the primary reason for buffer zones doesn’t exist at all. The next biggest purpose of buffer zones is to stop herbicides from getting into the water. Again, since we don’t farm, this problem doesn’t exist either. The third reason is to prevent fertilizer from getting into water. Again, it doesn’t apply to us.

Before going on, this bears repeating, there’s no research anywhere about the need for buffer zones when there’s nothing to buffer. We’re not surrounded by farms – we’re surrounded by forest. There’s nothing in Wentworth except for lakes and buffer zones. The fundamental purpose of buffer zones is to protect against agricultural surface run-off, but in Wentworth there’s no such runoff.

ABSURDITY ON STEROIDS

In any case, let’s pretend that all our forests are farms, and the land gets plowed, dried out, and compacted so hard that there’s lots of runoff carrying agricultural pollutants into the lake. If so, what exactly would the scientists advise us to plant in the buffer zones? Here is the latest research according to the Swedish University of Agricultural Science, A Review of the Knowledge Focusing on Vegetated Buffer Strips – 2012.

The choice of plant/s can be important for vegetated buffer strip effectiveness and function … Grass is often more tolerant and … provides good resistance to erosive flows.

In other words, the plant of choice validated by the most exhaustive and recent study is grass. Remember, this is for buffer zones alongside agricultural land. In other words, if there were anything to buffer, then grass would do a fine job.

Finally, to be very explicit about this, adding trees to the buffer zone doesn’t help according to a major study in March 2010 by a group of Quebec and Canadian scientists (Caron, LaFrance, Auclair et Duchemin) published at www.soils.org, which says that “NO significant difference in the capacity to reduce herbicide exports was observed between grass and grass+tree buffer strip treatments“.

In fact, although it sounds bizarre, trees themselves can cause problems, (Limnetica 2006, The ecology of the Iberian inland waters) because the pretty autumn leaves that fall into our lakes quickly decompose into phosphorus and nitrogen, which are the same runoff fertilizer chemicals that buffer zones are designed to capture. Decaying leaves are the primary non-human source of this “pollution”, so there’s an intriguing case to be made that the best way to preserve our current pristine status is NOT to have so many trees so close to our waterways (see article, Falling Autumn Leaves).

(Incidentally, Ontario allows lawns on waterfront property, but suggest not cutting shorter than 3 inches, so the grass doesn’t dry out. Below please see photo examples of what they call excellent examples of shoreline protection.)

Surely, you think, there must be some explanation. Things couldn’t possibly be so completely upside-down in Wentworth. After all, Wentworth is part of a group of municipalities called the MRC d’Argenteuil, and they’re all guided by the Quebec Government. Well, as you may have read above, after being pushed hard through access to information legislation, the Quebec Ministry of the Environment admitted: After verification, we have been informed that the government doesn’t have a single document providing scientific support for its policy on protection of waterways and flood plains.

Apres verification, nous sommes informes que le Ministere ne detient aucun document portant sur la justification scientifique de la Politique de protection des rives, du littoral et des plaines inondables.”

In other words the Quebec Ministry of the Environment simply made up policies about buffer strips that have no relationship to science. In a back-handed way to avoid responsibility for its own hollow policy and legislation, the Official Preamble to Quebec’s Law on the Environment (468-2005 Protection Policies for Lakeshores, Riverbanks, Littoral Zones and Floodplains) (translated) says “In order to enable the adoption of measures best suited for a regional municipality [eg Wentworth] …the implementation can take local situations into account [since] strict enforcement of the policy does not always correspond to reality.”

In other words, what Quebec says is that they’re giving a gun to the municipality, and if they choose to use it, it’s up to them. Tempted by these powers, our local bureaucrats passed the most severe laws in the province, and are ordering us to let 10 meters of waterfront grow wild, and doling out tickets of $450 to people for mowing lawns and trimming bushes. All this in a municipality with the healthiest, cleanest and most stable lake water purity in the province.

To add a bit of common sense to this discussion, it’s worth knowing that buffer zones can theoretically do two things, (1) filter out pollutants, and (2) prevent erosion by retaining soil within the plant root structure.

(1) Since there’s no farming in Wentworth, as long as we’re not putting chemicals on our property, there’s nothing to filter. Anyone disobeying common sense would have a lawn greener than others, and would have no dandelions or chickweed. If they were told, they would surely stop without the need for legislative guns, such as $450 tickets and fines of $300 per day.

(2) In order to prevent erosion, any kind of vegetation will do as long as it doesn’t get washed out by waves or rain storms. This is highly dependent on the conditions at each property, and the biggest loser from erosion would be the property owner, since it’s their own shoreline that would slowly dissolve into the lake. Nobody wants that, and wherever necessary, shrubs and bushes could be planted where grass roots aren’t deep enough to resist erosion. Nothing more needs to be done than tell the property owner they’re slowly losing their own property.

The extreme Wentworth prohibitions against trimming lakefront hedges or tree branches are devoid of science and common sense. Remember that when elections come in a few weeks, and be sure you are registered to vote NOW!

(Any bureaucrats reading this, at any level of government, please note, there’s a comment section wide open for you to use. If you disagree with anything here, leave a reply. We’ll be happy to publish it. If you don’t leave a reply, we have the right to believe you can’t find anything wrong in this article.)

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For what it’s worth here are pictures from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) showing what they call “best practices” for the environment.

MNR: ONTARIO BEST PRACTICES:

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Stay tuned and check back often. Lots of news coming here in the next few weeks.

Blue-Green Baloney

In 2012, the Quebec Ministry of the Environment spent $542,063 testing water all over the Province and found blue-green algae in 139 samples (Les Plans d’Eau Touches par une fleur d’Eau d’Algues Bleu-Vert). This sounds worrying, but is actually a normal part of a healthy world. Encyclopedia Britannica says blue-green algae can be found in almost every terrestrial and aquatic habitat—oceans, fresh water, damp soil, temporarily moistened rocks in deserts, bare rock and soil, and even Antarctic rocks, and the harder you look the more you’ll find.

Blue-green algae are little marvels of nature. To make a living they consume only sunshine, air and water – which they manufacture into the nitrogen plants need to eat, and the oxygen animals need to breathe. Some blue-green algae (also called spirulina) is a traditional food source in parts of Africa and Mexico, and is exceptionally rich in vitamins, minerals and protein. Many people pay good money for spirulina when it’s compressed into pill form and sold at health food stores. (http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/1386455/spirulina)

WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?
The most complete recent study is a 2012 report by the USA Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that says “Algae are vitally important to marine and fresh-water ecosystems and … are usually too small to be seen, but sometimes can form visible colonies, called an algal bloom. Blooms can form in shallow, warm, slow-moving waters that are rich in nutrients such as fertilizer runoff or septic tank overflows. The blooms … look like paint floating on the water.” According to the EPA they are more likely to be found in warmer southern waters of Florida, and some brackish waters in the Canadian prairies. Transient blooms can also appear in parts of healthy lakes in Springtime when the warm weather drives normal algae to the surface for a dose of sunshine for photosynthesis.

Although algal blooms are usually harmless, they can function as an early warning sign that a lake may be starting to become overgrown. The blooms thrive in warm, shallow, stagnant or slow-moving pools of over-fertilized water. That kind of water is turbid, not clear. If detected, actions can be taken to reduce the fertilizer or sewage that’s feeding the algae. However, we don’t have turbid water in Wentworth. Lake Louisa is clear for 7 metres, which is practically off the charts for water clarity.

Nonetheless, On June 9, 2010, the Wentworth Senior Inspector (the Mayor’s wife), sent us all a letter saying “It is urgent to take concrete measures to prevent the onset of blue-green bacteria in our lakes and watercourses“, and she stressed it is forbidden to touch any vegetation within the first 10-15 metres from the water. That was the letter that essentially laid down the law in Wentworth that you can read about in the article: The no-go don’t-touch zone along lakefront.

HOLIEST OF HOLY SECRETS
In 2008 the NIH published an article called “Human health risk assessment related to cyanotoxins exposure”. This article is important for us in Quebec because it says the blooms “occur especially in eutrophic … waters”. “Eutrophic” is a sacred word in this story. The kind of lake most affected by algae is called “eutrophic”. “Eutrophic” is the Greek word for “well nourished”. Unless a lake is “well nourished” there won’t be significant algal blooms.

There’s an organization called CQDE – Le Centre québécois du droit de l’environnement (www.cqde.org). The CQDE, like various other organizations, makes money selling its services to municipalities like Wentworth. It provides lawyers for legal cases against citizens, propagandizes lake associations, and trains Municipal Inspectors how to clamp down the law against you and me. The President, Jean-Francois Girard, also travels around from town-to-town trying to convince us peons that our environment will go down the toilet unless we stop sinning. On August 10, 2013 Wentworth had a so-called “Environment Day” where Mr. Girard gave a powerpoint doom-and-gloom presentation on the catastrophe about to befall us. He said there are 5-6,000 lakes in southern Quebec and 10-15% are eutrophic. Doing the math means there are about 600 eutrophic lakes in Quebec – which would be scary if true.

As it happens, I’d been poking around the Quebec Government website and couldn’t find any eutrophic lakes at all, although they make it hard to research because you have to look up one lake at a time. After Environment Day I sent Mr. Girard an email asking for more information.

ME
I’m trying to study the health of lakes in Quebec. You say 10-15% are eutrophic. Can you tell me where you got this information. (“J’essaie d’étudier sur la santé des lacs au Québec. Vous dites que 10-15% des lacs sont eutrophic. Pouvez-vous s’il vous plaît me référer à la recherche scientifique qui appuie cette conclusion?”)

HIM
No reply.

NEXT
On 28 August, I sent a query directly to the Government asking how many lakes in Quebec are eutrophic according to the latest research. (“Je voudrais savoir combien des lacs au Québec sont eutrophiques, selon les derniers résultats de la recherche qui sont disponibles.”)

THEM
There’s no way to estimate the number of eutrophic lakes in Quebec, but you can look at these links. (“Il n’y a pas de bilan complet qui permettrait d’estimer le nombre de lacs eutrophes au Québec. Je vous invite par contre à consulter le “Portrait de la qualité des eaux de surface au Québec, 1999-2008″ à l’adresse suivante : http://www.mddefp.gouv.qc.ca/eau/portrait/eaux-surface1999-2008/chap3.pdf Vous y trouverez le classement trophique de 537 lacs. Vous pouvez également consulter la page suivante pour obtenir de l’information sur un lac particulier: http://www.mddefp.gouv.qc.ca/eau/rsvl/index.asp)

ME
According to the link, 3% out of 537 lakes are eutrophic. Since I’d imagine you’re studying the most densely populated areas, I guess that means there are only 16 eutrophic lakes in Quebec. Is that right? (“Merci pour les références, que j’ai étudié avec intérêt. Selon l’introduction du Figure 50 dans le premièr lien, 3% des lacs sont eutrophes. Puisque le nombre total des lacs étudiés est de 537, cela semble signifier que 16 lacs ont été trouvés à être eutrophes. Est-ce correct? Aussi, bien que le Québec compte au moins 6,000 lacs, j’imagine que les lacs étudiés dans cette étude sont celles des zones les plus densément peuplées. Est-ce correct?”)

ME
Will you be answering my question? (“Le 30 Août je vous ai envoyé un courriel et je n’arrive pas à trouver une réponse de votre part. Il est possible que vous avez envoyé une réponse et je l’ai perdu. Avez-vous, ou allez-vous, envoyer une réponse?”)

THEM
No reply.

NEXT
I contacted the other main speaker at Wentworth Environment Day, Agnes Grondin, “Biologist” and “Environmental Advisor to the MRC d’Argenteuil”.

ME
Do you know if any lakes in Argenteuil are eutrophic?”

HER
A majority of lakes are oligo-mesotrophic. The scientific information we have on lakes in Argenteuil can be viewed on the site: http://www.mddefp.gouv.qc.ca/eau/rsvl/index.asp”.

ME
I know of this site, and I can’t find any lakes in Argenteuil that are eutrophic, but you are the expert for Argenteuil. Do you know any lakes that are eutrophic?”

HER
I am sorry but a don’t have that kind of information. May I ask why you are interested?

ME
(To myself), WTF

She says she doesn’t have that kind of information?! If not her then who? It’s worth remembering she’s the Argenteuil Environmental Advisor, biologist and paid official expert on Wentworth water quality. Apparently, without even knowing the state of our water, she authored the “Action Plan for the Protection of Argenteuil’s Lakes” that’s been guiding Wentworth policy decisions for the past 5 years.

In other words, at every level of government, from the municipality, to the MRC, to the Ministry in Quebec, bureaucrats are simply making up policies, laws & regulations that are not based on science.

BLUE-GREEN BUREAUCRACY

Not only are Quebec’s lakes an outstanding national treasure, but in Wentworth, within only one hour of Montreal, we are blessed with ultra-healthy lakes. They have none of the risk factors associated with eutrophic lakes. They are headwater lakes, meaning there’s no garbage floating into them from miscreants upstream. There’s no agriculture or industry polluting our lakes. We have spring-fed cold and deep lakes. The land around our lakes is porous, and even after a heavy rainstorm the water just percolates down into the ground. Take a look at any map or aerial photo and you’ll see there’s nothing in Wentworth except for trees and lakes. Try and imagine a more picture-perfect setting and you won’t be able.

In addition, most of our lakes, Louisa and Dunany, have been fully populated for 50 years or more. It’s not as if we suddenly started developing and don’t know what the results will be. In 1965 there were already 450 homes at Louisa, each home had more people than now, and the wives & kids stayed at the lake all summer long. Because of demographics and other reasons we’re quickly de-populating, and there’s even less human impact on the environment than before. We have a long history knowing what our lakes can tolerate, and they are unbelievably robust.

There’s simply no science behind all the rules and regulations spoiling our use of our properties. The only thing eutrophic is the pools of blue-green bureaucrats flowering on our ignorance and passivity. This kind of problem isn’t going to get fixed from the top-down, only from the bottom-up. Think globally, but act locally. That’s what makes these elections so important. (Please vote, by mail, or in the advance poll on Sunday October 27, or at the final poll on Sunday 3 November.)