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Township of Oro-Medonte: Geese Management Initiative

Municipality

Oro-Medonte is a rural community located between the cities of Barrie and Orillia, and has more than 20,000 full-time residents. Covering 61,000 hectares of land in the heart of Simcoe County, the Township is highlighted by a picturesque landscape of prominent rolling hills and nearly 40 kilometres of Lake Simcoe shoreline.

Project Name and Description

Geese Management Initiative: Recreation and Community Services Department

Bayview Memorial Park is a 4.29 hectare waterfront park with a beach, picnic facilities (including two shelters), a playground, a basketball half court, gardens and sitting areas.

Canada geese are a valuable natural resource that provide recreation and enjoyment to bird watchers and recreational enthusiasts throughout Canada. The sight of the recognizable V-formation of a flock of Canada geese flying overhead in spring or fall is a Canadian tradition. But, flocks of local-nesting or ‘resident’ geese have become year-round inhabitants of the park, and were causing significant problems at Bayview Memorial Park – both with general park use and with human health concerns.

Project Contact (Staff)

Shawn Binns

Director, Recreation & Community Services

E: sbinns@oro-medonte.ca

P: 705.487.2171 x.2127

Date of Implementation

A local businessman (Paul Elliot) started offering Geese Management (feces removal) services to area municipalities approximately 8 years ago (2008), using a modified vacuum with hosing attachments. Mr. Elliot approached the Township regarding Bayview Memorial Park, after staff and Council had experienced limited success with running dogs to chase the geese - as the dog technique resulted in a cost of $10,000-$15,000 per season. Mr. Elliot offered a demonstration of the equipment to remove the feces, with the Township then hired Mr. Elliot at an hourly rate, contracting the service from May to October, with a cost of approximately $10,000.

At that time (2009-2010), Mr. Elliot was providing the service for Penetanguishene and Midland as well, and decided to reduce the business and sold his unit to the Township. In 2014, the Township bought a motorized version for $8,000, and since then have continued to manage the geese droppings a minimum of three times per week, using existing or seasonal staff to service the park.

Project Goals

  • Contribute to a trend of decreased E-coli (Escherichia coli) counts (SMDHU) and reduced frequency of beach closures
  • Enhanced resident and visitor experience
  • Boost local tourism

List of Key Stakeholders

  • Municipal staff
  • Council members
  • Larger community

Drivers/Champion

What was your municipalities’ main reason for moving this project forward? Who was the biggest champion for the project?)

As part of the Township’s People-Parks-Places Strategy, Oro-Medonte strives to provide service excellence for the responsibilities of:

  • Operations and Maintenance of Parks and Open Spaces
  • Contract Administration for Turf Maintenance
  • Sports fields
  • Playgrounds
  • Parks and Open Space (290 Acres)
  • Swimming Areas and Wharfs

While most people find a few geese acceptable, problems develop as local flocks grow and the feces become excessive (a goose produces about a pound of excrement per day). Other problems include over-grazed lawns, accumulations of feces and feathers in public spaces, nutrient-loading to waterways, and public health concerns at beaches and to drinking water supplies. Beach water quality is monitored regularly by the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, and concerns were noted regarding the water quality at Bayview Park. Coupled with the commitment to providing residents with high-quality parks, the Township collects non-resident parking fees annually, with an average revenue of approximately $20,000; or $20 per car from approximately 1,250 vehicles. A poor visitor experience can affect the revenue received from tourism, and in-turn impact operating efficiency of the Parks and Recreation department.

To request information on a specific beach, please visit the SMDHU website.

Financial Considerations

In 2014, the Township purchased geese feces collection equipment (‘Tow and Collect’) from Tow and Farm, a New Zealand company, for $8,000. The machines are towed using a standard ball and hitch coupling system that was compatible with the Township’s mowing equipment – resulting in mowing requirements and the removal of feces being completed in one task. The machine employs rotating nylon brushes which sweep the feces and other debris into the rear-mounted catcher. In addition, the chemical-free system removes thatch to improve the quality of the grass.

Measures of Success/Impacts

How has the project helped your municipality or department achieve its sustainability goals? What specific metrics can you share about the impact it has had?

The purchase of the equipment has reduced other waste (i.e., cigarette butts, plastic, labels), as it also picks up these items, limiting garbage pollution to the lake. The SMDHU provides water samples to the Provincial Laboratory to analyze each sample for E.coli, with this indicator being used because it is the most specific indicator of fecal pollution. The results of the laboratory analysis indicate the bacterial quality of the beach water at the specific time the beach was sampled. Although not enough data has been collected (3-5 years) to be deemed statistically-significant at this time, the general trend indicates that the level of E-coli present in the lake is decreasing. The park is also more aesthetically pleasing and as a result, more visitors are being reported (increased park use through user fees), which can be partially reliant on an enhanced visitor experience.

Project Rationale (Summary)

Why would you encourage other municipalities to adopt/implement a similar practice?

The Township is committed to continuing to upgrade the beach and associated facilities at not just Bayview Memorial Park, but to the all other municipally-managed spaces. By purchasing the equipment, the Township was better able to control costs, and although the task requires additional staff time, the management of the issue has reduced the need for senior staff time in responding to requests and inquiries regarding community and visitor concerns. The current technique is-place is not an ‘end-all’ solution, but does demonstrate the Township’s commitment to managing this issue proactively and with appropriate resources.

Document Link or Attachment

Strategic Facility Plan, 2010

Proud Heritage, Exciting Future: 2015-2018 Strategic Plan

Type of Case Study

☐Education and Outreach

☒Policy Adjustment or Development

☒Partnerships & Collaboration

☐Enforcements & Incentives

☒Implementation of Programs & Services

☒Facilities & Infrastructure Improvements

Website: Visit Site


Photos



148 Line 7 South
Oro-Medonte, Ontario, L0L 2E0