Connecting Lake Simcoe's Community

A $40-million storm water treatment facility will be built to reduce phosphorus runoff from Holland Marsh into Lake Simcoe.


The treatment facility will protect the lake’s watershed from excessive algae growth, resulting in better protection for the region’s aquatic habitats, increased ecosystem biodiversity, and protection of drinking water sources.

Lake Simcoe is the largest inland lake in southern Ontario outside of the Great Lakes. The watershed is home to more than 435,000 people. Clean water is vital to this ecosystem and these communities. But human activity has impacted the lake’s health.

On Nov. 12, 2020, Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, Deb Schulte, Minister of Seniors and Member of Parliament for King–Vaughan, Helena Jaczek, MP for Markham–Stouffville, and Wayne Emmerson, York Region Chairman and CEO, announced funding to construct the storm water treatment facility.

The Government of Canada is investing $16-million through the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund (DMAF). The Regional Municipality of York is contributing $24-million to the project. The project is expected to save $5.38 for every dollar invested.

The Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority identified the Marsh as a critical point load of phosphorus, contributing an average of six tonnes a year. The release of excess phosphorus from agriculture, such as fertilizer, places the Lake Simcoe Watershed at risk of eutrophication that can irreversibly destroy aquatic habitats and ecosystem biodiversity.

“This project alone will reduce phosphorus runoff into Lake Simcoe by 40-percent, cutting algae growth in the lake’s watershed, preserving fish habitat and protecting a major source of drinking water. We simply have to invest now in infrastructure that protects Canadians, our environment, and the biodiversity of our ecosystems. The $16-million the Government of Canada is investing in this storm water treatment facility will ensure York Region residents have access to quality drinking water, and will preserve industries that are important to the economy, including agriculture and recreation.”
–The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities

“Clean water is vital to the health of our environment and communities. The Government of Canada is proud to partner with York Region to help protect Lake Simcoe with this major investment. These investments will create jobs today that help protect our region’s environment and drinking water for our future.”
– The Honourable Deb Schulte, Minister of Seniors and Member of Parliament for King−Vaughan

“I’m very pleased to see this project move forward with a significant investment from our government. I know it’s the product of years of hard work—and it will have a really positive impact on the water quality and ecosystems in the area.” 
– Helena Jaczek, Member of Parliament for Markham–Stouffville

“Building strong, caring, safe communities is a top priority for York Regional Council. This includes building resilient infrastructure for residents today and into the future. Through the support of our federal partners we continue to safeguard the local water supply, while also investing in innovative solutions to protect the Lake Simcoe Watershed and its habitats.”
– Wayne Emmerson, York Region Chairman and CEO


Photo by Tony Bellissimo

Editor's Note: The Holland Marsh discharges into the Cooks Bay area of Lake Simcoe via the Holland River system.
In October, blue-green algae was reported in Cooks Bay, near Innisfil. See the article at:



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