September 2021 Update

For this summer of 2021 we are all breathing a sigh of relief that the Covid virus is finally being beaten down due to the vaccines.

Our summer research on water quality, wetlands, Species at Risk turtles and water levels has continued even while we had to follow COVID restrictions. Now we want to recognize that none of this leading-edge research would ever be possible without the dedication, competence, and guidance of our board member – Roy Schatz.

He has given his time and wisdom as a volunteer to do everything possible to protect and preserve all of what we love and care about our beloved Georgian Bay.

Beginning in the 1970’s Roy Schatz was President of the Pointe au Baril Islanders Association, then of the Georgian Bay Association, then the founding President of the GBA Foundation (now named Georgian Bay Forever) and is currently Vice Chair of Georgian Bay Great Lakes Foundation. When Roy was president of GBA and for many years after, as a director, while Pat Northey was President, Roy and his family hosted GBA directors’ meetings and provided legendary dinners for over 20 directors. But his real skills in collaboration to just do what is needed to protect the Bay shone through along with his leadership skills and ability to work with people. Roy also served for nine years as a well respected Councillor for the Township of The Archipelago and that included driving to Parry Sound in the winter on snowy and or icy roads. On TOA Council, his wisdom with language helped to craft resolutions for Councils that acted to protect the Bay under Reeve Peter Ketchum’s wise leadership. Professionally, Roy is a retired educator, high school teacher of modern languages, then Ministry of Education official, and finally French course instructor at Glendon College of York University.

In 1995 Roy realized that GBA needed to be able to retain experts to defend challenges to the integrity of the Bay but that GBA was not able to raise the funds needed for that work. What triggered Roy’s concerns were quiet plans by York Region to build the “Big Pipe” that would divert Lake Simcoe/Georgian Bay watershed water down to Lake Ontario via stormwater and sewage piping. So Roy formed the charity, GBA Foundation now Georgian Bay Forever. And suddenly York Region’s plans became much more broadly known and York realized that it had to account for and then justify the potential impacts and understand the public’s concern regarding the precedent setting intrabasin transfer they wanted to create. Without Roy’s leadership Georgian Bay Forever would not exist today. Roy was founding president for 9 years and John Seagram was his successor.

“This is unheard of for a small Canadian charity undertaking Great Lakes connecting channel hydrological studies and research at this very high level.”

Roy Schatz on the right and Mary Muter attending one of many IJC meetings.

Roy Schatz on the right and Mary Muter
attending one of many IJC meetings.

When Georgian Bay water levels fell significantly between 1999 and 2001, some shoreline residents were asking “who pulled the plug?” This concern was coming from areas around all of Georgian Bay and Lakes Huron and Michigan. So, after initial investigations by some volunteer engineers and some frustrating meetings with Environment Canada staff, Roy Schatz and John Seagram led the campaign to raise the funds needed to pay for the ground-breaking coastal consultant’s Baird Report I. As the IJC Canadian Secretary said at the time; “This is unheard of for a small Canadian charity undertaking Great Lakes connecting channel hydrological studies and research at this very high level.” As a result, the IJC initiated their Upper Lakes Levels Study. We are still waiting for the IJC to implement their “Advice to Governments” to undertake regular bathymetric measurements of the St. Clair River and to run mathematical conveyance changes models to determine the best flexible structures for the St. Clair River to be able to alleviate extreme low levels on MH/GB but not exacerbate high flow conditions. While we wait, Roy continues as both our secretary taking minutes of all our meetings but also that of Restore Our Water International (ROWI). ROWI meets remotely and how Roy pulls together such comprehensive minutes from those long complex meetings is truly amazing. In spite of his skills and experience Roy is always humble and treats everyone with the utmost respect. He often asks the questions that give us the directional guidance needed – “well if we don’t do this who will?”

Roy has always put his family ahead of everything he has done and below is a photo of his family at their beloved Pointe au Baril cottage in 2020.

Lower left is Roy Schtaz, his wife Dianna, top left to right daughters Laura, Joan and son Rolland

Roy is a strong supporter of McMaster U’s Professor Pat Chow-Fraser’s research and each year her research improves with her use of leading-edge technology. By now we have all heard what a significant role DNA research played in the quest to develop COVID vaccines. And the Chow-Fraser lab knew how time-consuming it is to find Species At Risk (SAR) on the water access only areas on the Bay and inland. But this work will help to develop policies to better protect their habitats. So the Chow-Fraser lab is now collecting water samples to get tested for eDNA evidence of SAR turtles including Blanding’s, Spotted, Snapping, Musk, and Map turtles. This will save a lot of time/costs and identify SAR without any disturbance at any time of the year. The results of this work will be put into GIS mapping that will be shared with governments at all levels including to begin with the District of Muskoka and Township of Georgian Bay. See below.

We all want to recognize Roy for what he has done for the Bay. The best way to do that is to donate to allow the work Roy began in the 1970’s to continue. Thank you all for your support.

Have questions? Contact Us

We are looking for a few new board members. Interested in our research – water levels, water quality, wetlands, SAR turtles? Want to learn more? Contact Us!

On behalf of our entire board and all our wonderful donors,
Mary Muter, Chair, Georgian Bay Great Lakes Foundation

PS. In our next newsletter look for a new analysis by our hydraulic engineer Bill Bialkowski of how well the IJC is “balancing” Michigan/Huron/Georgian Bay water levels versus Lake Superior water levels with their Regulation Plan 2012.

Here is how to donate.

MAKE YOUR IMPACT TODAY

Donations help us make a difference
because we can continue our work
and bring it to a conclusion for future generations.

We depend on private donors, foundations and sponsors like you.

Charitable donations can help reduce, or even cancel out, the tax
you would otherwise have to pay to the government.

PREFER TO DONATE BY MAIL? HERE'S HOW...

Please make out your cheque to
Huronia Community Foundation

and mark in the notation line
“for Georgian Bay Great Lakes Foundation”
and mail it to:
Huronia Community Foundation,
P.O. Box 324, Midland, Ontario, L4R 4L1

 

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Georgian Bay Great Lakes Foundation is an Ontario registered not-for-profit
affiliated with the federally-registered charity, Huronia Community Foundation

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