But then what? How do you reconcile the widest possible access with this hellish rise of unrestrained freedom for those with the money and the recklessness to enjoy themselves without regard for the consequences? The polarization of opinion I've seen on social media doesn't lie: the recklessness of a few is hurting everyone else.
The problem is worse in Lake Memphrémagog and Lake Magog, the problem is everywhere.
But let's talk about here. The blue patrol is on the lake 7 days a week, 10 hours a day. Cases of recklessness and direct danger are seen by the dozen every week. Kayakers and paddleboarders are no more innocent than others; many seek and find ways to avoid the boat washing. The ÉTÉ team sees it every day. But so what?
Raising awareness is no longer enough. We need to do better. Blue Massawippi is on all fronts, boat washing, public awareness, press releases, we are gaining ground, but too little to balance the growth.
If access to the lake is not a fundamental right, it can and must be a societal choice. Thoughtful, reflective, organized. This choice must consider the environmental impacts and the costs they represent. Because inevitably, someone will have to pay. Residents, boaters, fishermen, swimmers, municipalities, governments, everyone must accept that managing a lake properly is costly, and getting increasingly expensive. Who will pay?
The first step is to reduce the damage by establishing basic standards and enforcing them. If the lakes were used with respect, both by those who live on them and those who do not, it would be easier to provide access to as many people as possible.
This requires the federal government and Transport Canada to provide a simple pathway for municipalities, and this is urgent. But not only that. Municipalities must have the courage to do it. And it is far from certain when we know that the bylaw on shorelines is not consistently applied in any of our shoreline municipalities.
Secondly, we will have to invest. Invest in supervised access to the lake so that all those who access it, including shoreline residents, know the basic rules to follow on a lake. Invest in a permanent patrol that will think about safety and the environment. Stop tilling the sea grass beds and lifting sediments.
Yesterday afternoon, the sudden and wild blue-green algae bloom at Baltimore Bay was scary. This is a problem that will take years to solve if ever.
Harmonizing boating and the environment is a much easier fix. All it takes is the will.