Muskoka Lakes Activity Survey, 2017 – Summary Report
By ERIN Research in cooperation with Safe Quiet Lakes
Respondents are passionate about their activities on the water. The 2017 survey, “Your Lakes, Your Views”, drew an enthusiastic response across the Muskoka region giving a larger, broader and richer base of data to analyze and compare to the 2013 baseline survey. Respondents voiced their viewpoints strongly and clearly, confirming many areas of consensus as well as some significant differences in perspective.
- People in the region love lakes and rivers, boats and boating
- An overwhelming majority of respondents feel that quiet enjoyment of nature is a critical part of their lake experience
- Perceptions of safety and quiet of the lake environment are directly correlated to the enjoyment people experience, a finding that crosses different groups of power and non-power boaters and holds for both larger and smaller lakes
- Change on the lakes is continuing with 50% + finding that there is more boat traffic, more boat noise, and a greater impact of boat wakes than four years ago
- The three most frequently mentioned problems in 2017 are all associated with unsafe and inconsiderate boating:
- Boat noise, especially from personal watercraft and sound systems
- Boat wakes
- Boats operated at high speeds, especially when close to shore
- The commonly proposed solutions to issues have very different levels of support:
- A strong and growing majority of respondents believe more education is needed
- A majority of respondents support no-wake zones to protect people and wildlife, stronger enforcement of existing exhaust/muffler regulations and driving under the influence laws, and establishing decibel limits on boat noise
- Lake users are divided on whether more or different enforcement is needed and whether additional regulations would be beneficial
- There is very little support for mandatory Personal Flotation Device (PFD) use.
- Where opinions divide, the ends of the spectrum are defined by two groups who often voiced their views passionately: paddlers focus on canoeing, kayaking, rowing and related activities and do not value power boat sports, while the smaller group of towers focus on wakeboarding, wakesurfing etc. but do not feel paddling activities are important. The majority of respondents engage in both paddling and towing activities, and constitute the middle ground of opinion. The Full Report provides detail on this dynamic.
- Respondents offered a ringing endorsement of the need for boaters, sports enthusiasts, cottagers and residents to share the lakes and rivers respectfully.