So one day in August I decided to go for a kayak ride on Chemong Lake. The lake was like glass. I put the kayak in the truck and launched the kayak into the lake beside Sip and Dip Restaurant. I did not go very far before I was appalled at the sight I was seeing. As I paddled that peaceful morning I started to count worm containers along the causeway. I got about 3/4 the way down and stop counting at 40 containers because counting water bottles seemed like the next thing to do. By the time I reached the end of the causeway I seen many water bottles, more worm containers, food containers, cigarette packages and even what appeared to be a diaper. An adult diaper. EWWWW.
I sat in my kayak and stared at the mess. I thought of all the times I swam in this lake and the other children that swim and enjoy the lake today. I thought this sight is not my home, this is a scene of a back alleyway in Toronto or Detroit. Not a natural setting in Kawartha Lakes.
This issue was never new. It has been going on for over 20 years. I just never seen it this bad. It was shockingly bad. Of coarse I had my phone with me and I took some shots. I drive over the causeway many times a day and had no idea how bad it was past the guardrails. I thought maybe I should inform the community by posting the pictures on Facebook. I did create a post and tagged Gerry Herron (Smith Ward Councillor) Sherry Senis (Selwyn Deputy Mayor) and Mary Smith (Selwyn Mayor) with pictures of what I seen. Donna Ballantyne, Ennismore Ward rep is not on Facebook. I clicked "post" and got ready for work. Over the next few hours the post went viral. I was pleased to see how many community members were as upset as I was with the garbage in our lake.
That day I was contacted by CHEX news and Lance Anderson with Peterborough This Week. They both notice the traction the post got and wanted to do stories. I was happy to see the stories out there as the exposure of the problem maybe would get the Causeway cleaned up by the County. I got a call from Gerry Herron that day as well. Gerry was in full agreement with what my thoughts were. He would see what he could do. I then got a call from Sherry Senis. If I wanted something done about the issue I would have to take this to Peterborough Council.
At this point I had a decision. I could be the guy who yells and screams about something but does nothing about it other then bitch or I could do something here for my community and fight for what is right. I decided to fight for what was right for my community. With help from Gerry and Sherry I put myself on a delegation on a County Council meeting in August.
The post that started this all continued to be active over the next week or so with opinions and thoughts. 99% were positive community support. Of course I got the negative ones too.
Having the full support of the community did help me put myself out there and take up this cause. But what truly fuelled me was the treats and attempts of intimidation against me, my business and my home. The above examples were two very tame messages I received from people that did not want to see fishing stopped at the causeway. There were many more messages much more intense. I will keep them to myself for the time being. My thoughts were if fishing is so important to you people why are you not doing something to fix the issue? Why are you letting the bad apples ruin what is so important to you that you would threaten Brad Sinclair? My thoughts were they really did not care to be able to fish on the causeway as much as I wanted to have it cleaned up. I was the only one taking action. It is easy to send a threat and intimidate from a keyboard.
Then the Orgills happened. Cody and Ken Orgill, fishing enthusiast went to the causeway on August 12th and cleaned the causeway shorelines from end to end. Amazing men. They spent 4 hours cleaning. They told Lance Anderson of Peterborough this Week that it was a dirty job. (I bet it was) They took a whole load of garbage to the dump. Two days later on August 14th after the weekend I put my kayak in the water to check out how good their hard work looked. That is not what I found. I found in 48 hours the mess was back in full force. It looked like they did not clean it up at all 48 hours before. I was furious.
I created a powerpoint presentation and took it to Peterborough County Council. I layed it all out there. Put everything on the table. I got assurance from council something will be done to solve the issue. I felt relieved and accomplished. Finally after 20 plus years of issues something was going to be done.
On September 20th staff brought its report and recommendation to council. Copy of the report is here. Staff suggested that a soft education to visitors will most likely solve the trash issue. Explain with signs and media that littering into the lake is a bag thing. Really? If it was not for the tenacity of Sherry Senis this could have been passed. Sherry did not let that happen.
Moved by: Councillor Senis Seconded by: Councillor McFadden Be it resolved that County staff bring back a report on developing a plan for increased enforcement as well as enhanced signage and education (Communication strategy) and more regular garbage pickup, with enforcement based on “No Trespassing” on the Causeway from guardrail to guardrail. Carried
Sherry Senis contacted me early November to see if I could attend the next council meeting that this new report will be presented. We both had no idea what staff would bring to the table. At the time we were not hopeful that what I been asking for would be presented. I expected the worst to be honest.
I did not think staff had the will to tackle this difficult issue.
I found out that the date the report was to be presented was December 6th/2017. The report would be made public a few weeks before the meeting. When the report was released I was ecstatic. Here is the points.
- No trespassing bylaw would be put in place to keep people from entering the causeway past the guardrails from beginning to end. This would still leave areas to fish in Rotary Park, the CR14 Parking Lot and road side allowance beside the Sip and Dip.
- This bylaw will be ENFORCED. A security firm will be hired to look after the enforcement. The estimate to enforce this way would be approx $300 per week for 22 weeks. Budget $6600
- Communication Strategy. Signage, Press, Social Media, Advertising and public awareness events will stress the importance of cleaning up after yourself and leave the area clean. This cost will be budgeted for $10,000
- Increased Collection of Garbage. Not only is fishing garbage been an issue at causeway garbage cans but it seems to be a dumping ground for construction materials, household extra bags of garbage and junk. Extra work will be used to clean the flat areas available to be used for fishing, but garbage collections at the cans will be bumped up to keep them from over flowing. Budget $8000
On December 6th I was able to speak at the meeting. I myself fully endorsed the plan. These initiatives and recommendations were voted on and passed through council. Amazing. (as a friend and coworker always says!)
I have had a ton of people thank me for my efforts. It is humbling. Thank you for your support. I appreciate it. Of course the bad comments come out too. Here is one for your entertainment.
Wow. What a process. I learned so much from this experience. It just proves the system works. It takes work to make the system work so just bitching about an issue will do nothing. The best example of this is the people who are attacking me for this bylaw. Each and everyone of them had an opportunity to have their voice heard. Not one person came forward to say how I was wrong. But that is too much work and it is easier to attack behind a keyboard. Cowards I guess.
I am glad to see this from start to finish. I am glad it is done. I am proud of what was accomplished. I have to let you all know something before I wrap up. I want to give credit where credit is due. Gerry Herron and Sherry Senis are amazing people that are out there working their ass off for our community. These two are serving us to their fullest so if they decide to run again for township council again in 2018 make sure you give them your full support. If you need something I guarantee these folks will be the first to lend a hand. Thank you Gerry and Sherry.