By Darren Lum
Published May 19 2016
Local realtors are making a pledge towards a healthier Highlands through an education and awareness initiative by the Coalition of Haliburton Property Owners’ Associations (CHA).
The Lake Protectors Service Provider Realtor pledge asks local realtors to execute on seven actions when selling lakefront property (give educational DVDs encourage inspection of septic systems discourage removal of vegetation 15 metres within the shoreline discourage cutting down trees for water views give a copy of CHA Septic Tips give membership forms for relevant lake associations and seek permission from buyer or seller to pass on contact information to CHA). In return the realtor is entitled to use the CHA Lake Protectors Service Provider logo in marketing materials and be listed on the CHA website as provider realtor.
CHA president Paul MacInnes said the idea for the pledge was the result of a meeting he had with Century 21 real estate agents in March. One of the realtors discussed a trip to Point Pelee last summer. She remembers going out on Lake Erie in an aluminum fishing boat and could not see to the bottom because of the blue-green algae bloom nearly 30 centimetres thick. It measured 200 square miles which MacInnes said is the size of New York State. The blue-green algae has been found in Haliburton County Muskoka Sudbury North Bay and Kawartha Lakes.
It was a rallying point for him and the realtors who wanted to be part of a solution to ensure the future health of lakes and waterways. It led to his meeting with the CHA executive two months ago that resulted in the pledge idea.
“We’re taking all the action we can to protect our lakes. We have scientific advisors that advise us and they told us the No. 1 key action we have to take is to reduce the amount of phosphorous that’s headed into our lakes” he said.
Unlike the 1970s and 1980s when phosphorus was being adding to lakes from laundry detergent which was eventually banned by governments it is now related to urine.
“More than 90 per cent of it comes from our septic systems which comes from you and I peeing in the toilet. Pee is very high in phosphorus and septics don’t remove phosphorus very well” he said. “The key for us is keeping our septics operating well and our shorelines natural.”
MacInnes adds a shoreline needs to be at least 75 per cent natural otherwise that lake “is going downhill.”
Native plants have roots that are close to a metre and a half compared to grass which has a root measuring close to 12 centimetres long he said. The roots absorb the phosphorus before it goes in the lake.
Although the CHA membership has been diligent in its efforts to educate its members it also recognized a gap existed with new buyers of shoreline properties he said.
There is an annual turnover of up to 10 per cent for shoreline properties.
Part of the pledge includes giving clients two DVDs produced by Sticks and Stones Productions which are called Ribbon of Life and Poop Talk. MacInnes said these DVDs are effective tools of education.
People from the city unfamiliar with a septic system could cause a “shutdown of their septic system” for 70 hours using bleach in a load of laundry.
He said the realtors are the first point of contact and can get these DVDs in the hands of new property owners and assist with this education for life with a septic system.
In 24 hours there were 20 realtors who took the pledge. So far there have been 27 realtors who have signed on.
Andrew Hodgson realtor and co-owner of the Century 21 Granite Realty Group for the last six years believes in the CHA and its efforts as a “leading group” looking out for the future of the area.
“We’re very proud to support the work of the CHA. We think it is vitally important we all help pitch in to ensure all of our lakes are clean … not only for economical sustainability but because we all live here” he said.
The majority committed at the regular meeting when Hodgson presented the idea and the rest have since followed suit he said. He adds this is not the first time the group has worked with CHA.
The co-operation between the two organizations goes back close to four years he said.
“We all share the same goals of a clean watershed clean lakes and we understand it takes us all to pitch in. With us being locally owned it’s vitally important” he said.
Bill Kulas a residence since 1979 and realtor for Re/Max since 1988 supports any effort to protect waterways and lakes and signed up within 10 minutes.
The co-chairman of Ducks Unlimited is an avid outdoorsman who hunts and fishes. He loves the Highlands and wants to keep it beautiful.
“I’m very conscious of protecting our waterways our wetlands and our landscape and anything we can do to inform buyers and sellers in terms of a realtor perspective of how important it is to keep your systems working properly and keep on top of things is important for the future” he said.
He is familiar with MacInnes’s efforts to keep Highlands beautiful and has an appreciation for the area.
“Until you get to travel the world and get back to the Haliburton Highlands do you really appreciate what we have here” he said.
Peter Brady of Trophy Property Corporation has taken the pledge and said he is a believer and supporter of maintaining the lakes which he said “are Haliburton.”
There has been positive and enthusiastic feedback from clients who have received the DVDs from Brady even before taking the pledge.
“If we each continue to inform and educate we can assure our water quality and enjoyment for our grandchildren and as a realtor protect our lakefront property values” he said.
The CHA is a member-driven group consisting of 48 property owners’ associations representing 120 lakes in Haliburton County.
Its function is to improve communication among associations support and strengthen associations and to share resources and learn from one association to another. The CHA also works on projects with a large scope too big for one association.
For more pledge forms and information email Paul MacInnes firstname.lastname@example.org