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This is the 22nd edition, since 2015, of the shoreline management e-newsletter. Thank you for having subscribed. You are welcome to unsubscribe at any time.
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Lake Huron shoreline
Spring news for Lake Huron shoreline 


Summer begins in June but Victoria Day long weekend is unofficial start of summer for many


Resources available for shoreline residents and other interested people; Visit our newly mobile-friendly website for updated approved Shoreline Management Plan; Contact our staff if you have questions

Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) would like to wish an enjoyable Victoria Day long weekend to shoreline residents (both those returning to the area in spring and those who have been here over the winter months), to everyone along the southeast shoreline of Lake Huron in our area, and to the 550 subscribers to this shoreline management newsletter.

Website updates


We have worked with a webmaster to update our website, to serve you better, with a new website address (https://www.abca.ca) and a new mobile-friendly format so it is designed to work better on smart phones and tablets as more people now interact with the website this way. The new web page address for shoreline management resources is found at this link:

Fact sheet, checklist
for proposed shoreline protection works


The shoreline management web page includes two documents, approved by the ABCA Board of Directors in September of 2018, related to applications and proposals for shoreline protection works.

They are:

Call us if you are proposing shoreline protection projects or need permits or information


If you are applying for proposed shoreline protection projects or applying for permits for other works – such as renovations to your shoreline cottage or home – in a regulated area, please call us for information at 519-235-2610 or toll-free 1-888-286-2610.

High lake levels


Lake Huron water levels remain above average. Relatively high lake levels, wet weather and winter storms have had impacts on the shoreline. As of April 2019, water levels for Lake Michigan-Huron were not at record levels but they were above the all-time average for the time of year. 

A number of links are available on the Environment and Climate Change Canada website at this link:

Shoreline hazards and risks information


Higher lake levels, shoreline erosion, and rainfall and storms and other weather events make it important for property owners to be aware of natural hazards and risks along the shoreline. The combination of relatively high Lake Huron water levels, wet ground, and natural hazards create the potential for gully and bluff erosion and potential slope failure.

Higher-than-average lake levels, combined with large amounts of rain, high winds and wave action can lead to erosion at the base of the bluffs and an increase in gully erosion in some areas and this, in turn, can lead to higher risk of slope failures along the lakeshore.

It is very difficult to predict when bluff failures will happen and how big those failures will be. Property owners should be aware of shoreline risks and natural hazards and be careful to watch their property for any sign of potential slope failure or bluff collapse.

We invite you to review the fact sheet, prepared by Terraprobe Inc., called Shoreline Slope Stability Risks and Hazards Fact Sheet for Property Owners. It is available for free download on the shoreline management web page at abca.ca and at this link:
Some printed copies of the fact sheet are also available at our office east of Exeter.

There are inherent natural hazards and risks along any shoreline. Higher water levels and wet weather add to that risk.

Bluff erosion is a natural process that has been occurring along the Great Lakes shorelines since they were formed more than 10,000 years ago. This erosion process is necessary to the ecology of the shorelines as sand beaches would disappear without some erosion. However, with higher lake levels and more rain events, the erosion process is more apparent.

Property owners should regularly check the condition of their bluff and property and if they have any concerns and to seek advice from appropriately qualified engineering and technical professionals. In the event of a significant bluff or slope failure that impacts residential structures, property owners should notify their municipality and the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority right away. 

Approved new Shoreline Management Plan
available online


We thank all the interested people who provided input between 2015 and 2019 into the technical work leading to a new, updated Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) for the Lake Huron shoreline within Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority’s area.

It took several years of technical work and consultation with public and municipalities to arrive at a new plan but we wanted to take the time necessary to collect the best information possible and to talk to shoreline residents and municipalities and to consider public questions, concerns, and comments and to consider public input. The result is a plan that is current and responsible in effectively protecting life, property, and the environment while also being local and practical and achieving that balance.

After four years of technical work and public review and input, the ABCA Board of Directors approved the updated, amended Shoreline Management Plan at the board meeting and annual meeting on Thursday, February 21, 2019.

The approval of the updated plan gives people certainty about what local policies are so property owners proposing development have clarity about the requirements for permit applications.

The approved updated Shoreline Management Plan (2019) replaces the previous document, which had been last updated in 2000.

The new plan is available online. Due to the size of the Appendices files, they are posted separately on the shoreline management page. The main section of the SMP is a 2 MB (large) PDF file, on the shoreline management page, and at this link: 
The SMP 2019 includes up-to-date technical work to accurately reflect natural hazards along the shoreline, policies that reflect current land use trends and provincial policy, and new, clear, consistent, practical, local guidelines.

The approved, updated plan provides newer information on shoreline recession rates and keeps policies current in light of emerging land use trends. The new plan helps to protect existing development from potential impacts of new development and to ensure new development is not located in the most hazardous areas (where flooding, erosion, and dynamic beaches could pose the highest risk to life and property).

The replacement of the 2000 SMP with the 2019 SMP provides more certainty about permitting and development approval policies and provides a consistent, up-to-date guide for development and municipal land use planning along the shoreline.

The new, approved plan differs profoundly from the approach recommended by the 2015-2016 consulting team. In 2016, the ABCA Board of Directors rejected some key recommendations of the draft recommendation report from the 2015-2016 consulting consortium. The ABCA Board of Directors held a special meeting on November 3, 2016 where the Board made clear it opposed “outright prohibition of all shoreline protection works” and rejected “the underlying principle of managed retreat” and rejected the development guidelines in that report. The Board at that time directed staff to re-engage the public in the update process.

The conservation authority later contracted a different firm, W.F. Baird & Associates Coastal Engineers Ltd., to develop a new proposed plan for the Board’s consideration. Conservation authority staff also worked with municipal staff to develop new proposed development guidelines.

The new approved plan incorporates some technical work from the original consulting team but includes different development guidelines and different policies for proposed shoreline protection works.

If you have questions about the new SMP, please contact Geoffrey Cade, Manager of Water and Planning, at 519-235-2610 or toll-free 1-888-286-2610.

Other resources


The shoreline management web page includes a number of other resources of interest.

Included on the web page is an interactive mapping website with updated mapping of natural hazards in the ABCA area: There is also a PDF file of hazard mapping; recession (erosion) rate data; development guidelines; considerations for permit review for proposed shoreline protection structures; and posters from public information open houses; among other information materials.

There are also technical reports such as:
There are also links to videos – some produced professionally and some produced in-house – of presentations to the Board of Directors on shoreline management issues.

Free online newsletter


If you are one of the 550 subscribers to this free electronic newsletter email update list – thank you!

More than 20 editions of this newsletter have been issued since 2015.

If you are not a subscriber, but would like to receive these email updates, please sign up now at this link:

Happy Victoria Day long weekend

Copyright © 2019 Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority, All rights reserved.


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