President's Report 2015
The Lake of Bays Heritage Foundation is celebrating our 30th anniversary in 2015, and we continue to provide leadership to protect the natural, built and cultural heritage of the Lake of Bays region. Our volunteer board is supported by hundreds of generous supporters who share a desire to protect the charm and beauty of the area.
Support in this past year was particularly meaningful because we have acquired a spectacular property for conservation at Marsh’s Falls near Dwight. This site is rich in natural and cultural heritage and we are focused on a protection plan as well as ways for the community to enjoy it.
The newly acquired 89-acre property at Marsh’s Falls on the Lower Oxtongue River adjoins another property we acquired in 2008 and together they total 170 acres and over six kilometers of shoreline on the Lower Oxtongue River. It is a spectacular preserve in one of the most important natural habitat areas in the Township and across Muskoka.
We secured this land because of supporters who enabled us to build up a reserve of $300,000. As well, we were able to raise an additional $400,000 during calendar year 2014. Now, we have a mortgage on the property of about $180,000, and must pay this down with renewed fundraising efforts. We are also grateful to Environment Canada for funding to help with conservation and stewardship programs this year.
As the Foundation now is responsible for 310 acres of conservation land and over 7 kilometers of lake and river shoreline, stewardship takes on increasing importance. For this reason, we have also started a Land Stewardship Endowment Fund, invested with a professional money manager and intended to produce income to fund these responsibilities. With an initial gift of $5,000 by a donor, we hope to grow the fund over time.
Township Mayor Bob Young describes Lake of Bays as “our little piece of paradise.” He’s right, and our Foundation is in the paradise protection business. The economic and social benefits of protecting open spaces accrue to the public. In an age when the private concentration of wealth is reaching an unprecedented imbalance, land trusts ensure the benefits of water quality, scenic vistas or wildlife encounters are available to all. Access to nature is increasingly valued as people seek to escape their hectic, technology-driven lives.
In our 30th year, we should acknowledge Robin Cumine, who had the original idea to create this Foundation. He was a past-president of the Lake of Bays Association, and saw a need for an organization with charitable status and dedicated to the long-term protection of heritage. With the ability to issue tax receipts for donations, LBHF has raised funds over the years to promote heritage and secure land. LOBA focuses on immediate issues around zoning, development, finances, etc. and both LBHF and LOBA work closely with the Township.
Other highlights of our recent work include:
- Reviewed and developed an updated set of By-Laws to be compliant with new Legislation and Canada’s Eco-Gift rules. These By-Laws were approved by our membership.
- Recognized several cottages on Scott’s Boathouse Road with heritage plaques and created a video now available on our YouTube.com channel.
- Submitted recommendations for stronger recognition of heritage in the Official Plan review.
- Joined American Friends of Canadian Land Trusts to facilitate donations from US taxpayers who enjoy our area.
- Organized a nature hike in the Westermain Woods Preserve and a silent boat tour of the Oxtongue River, giving the community an opportunity to appreciate local forests.
- Awarded two $500 scholarships under LBHF’s Harriet T. Weaver Trust to a graduating student in each of Huntsville and Bracebridge.
- Partnered with the District and Muskoka Watershed Council (MWC) on their Terrestrial Forest Plot Monitoring Program as an indicator of forest health in the future. MWC anticipates the need to rely on “citizen science” to provide additional information for future report cards and now an LBHF property will be included.
- Expanded our followers on Facebook and launched a Twitter feed, in addition to other electronic and traditional means of reaching the community.
We expect 2015 to be another busy and productive year. Elected to serve on the Board for 2014-15 are Ian Beverley, Jill Langford, Evan Livermore, Robert Levy, Simon Miles, Bruce MacLellan, Mark McLean, Betty McDonald, Rob Milligan, Judith Mills, Brian Simpson, Gloria Woodside and Rick Street.
Thank you for your continuing support for heritage in our community, and please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (416) 969-2727 with any questions or suggestions.