After 20 years leading the largest waterfront landowner group in the country, Terry Rees has decided to step down to pursue other interests effective March of 2024.
Terry will be leaving the Federation of Ontario Cottagers’ Associations (FOCA) in good hands with a tremendous core staff and a committed Board of Directors ready to serve the needs of Ontario’s 250,000 waterfront property owners.
Terry says, “this role has allowed me to see and appreciate so many parts of our wonderful province, and to work alongside and in support of the great volunteers that make Ontario’s rural and northern communities thrive, and who work tirelessly to keep our lakes great.”
Over the years and under Terry’s leadership, FOCA has accomplished a great deal.
During his tenure Terry fostered working relationships with many provincial politicians of all political stripes, and their staff – particularly at MNRF and MECP, but also OMAFRA, MNDM and others – on important issues including onsite wastewater management, protecting our biodiversity, preventing the spread of invasive species, and promoting private land stewardship.
Terry led FOCA’s work to articulate the significant economic impact of Ontario’s waterfront property owners, pushed for more transparent and fair property taxes, and represented the 147,000 remote HydroOne customers on rate proposals at the Ontario Energy Board. FOCA developed a risk management program for lake associations, backed with the best tailored liability insurance program available, to keep local community groups and their volunteers safe. Adapting and preparing for emergencies in waterfront Ontario was and is a particular passion for Terry, combined with the growing challenges that a changing climate will deliver to our lakes and river communities in the years ahead.
Terry worked tirelessly to advance science in policy and everyday decision-making, and together with the Environmental Visual Communications program at Fleming College and the ROM, developed some great videos about the important role of citizen science, local volunteerism and more.
Terry worked with partners in other NGO’s on providing well-founded information as the basis for individual environmental stewardship, took the temperature of the growing short-term rental market, explored the complex challenges of private roads, campaigned for safer boating, worked on reforms to Ontario’s land use planning, and mining oversight -always, always with a focus on keeping our waters safe and healthy for our future generations.
The colleagues Terry has worked with, and learned from, have been a significant benefit to FOCA, and provided great opportunities for his personal and professional growth in the role.
While Terry admits that it will be hard to leave behind this legacy of community building and advocacy, it is certain that FOCA will remain a vital force in our province for at least another 60 years, with a renewed vibrancy and focus.
Terry wishes to thank all his colleagues, former and current Board Presidents and Board members, his dedicated and amazingly talented co-workers, and especially his family who have been supportive all the way, tolerating evening webinars, any-time-of-the-day media calls, and so many weekends spent in someone else’s lakeside neighbourhood talking about the future of water, and so many other topics.
Terry states: “I’ve always wanted my kids to have the same great opportunities to enjoy and appreciate our lakes they way I have, and I hope I have managed to do my little part to make this a reality, for their sake, and for all our future generations.”
“These are big shoes to fill,” notes FOCA Board President, Ian Crawford. “We wish Terry all the best for his next endeavours, and thank him sincerely for his dedication to FOCA over these past decades.”