Connecting Lake Simcoe's Community

Ladies of the Lake Conservation Association is among 26 recipients sharing $8.6-million in funding from the first round of the new Lake Simcoe and South-eastern Georgian Bay Clean-Up Fund.

Among other recipients are the Holland Marsh Growers Association, awarded funding for innovative phosphorus-reducing technologies and management approaches, and the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority, for projects that include retrofitting septic systems, tree planting, improving/retrofitting streams and work to improve the Maskinonge River. (Please see below for the full list of recipients and projects.)

Ladies of the Lake is the lead organization of a collaborative entitled “ReWilding Lake Simcoe: the People and Nature New Stewardship Initiative.” The collaborative will receive $1.1-million to advance a four-year $1.6-million project. The 16 ReWilding partners include four municipalities — the Town of Georgina, City of Kawartha Lakes, the City of Barrie and York Region — as well as the province of Ontario; the Lake Simcoe and Kawartha conservation authorities; the Ontario Water Centre for Innovation Research and Learning/Lake Simcoe; the University of Waterloo; and several NGOs and community groups.

ReWilding Lake Simcoe builds from the pilot ReWilding Keswick Creeks completed two years ago, and comprises 24 on-the-ground projects around the Lake Simcoe watershed.

All projects will help community residents through expert assistance to re-imagine public spaces and change them so that both people and the lake thrive.The group envisions that new kinds of best practices being developed will lead to healthier waters and a renaissance of the communities themselves. Six of the first-year ReWilding projects will take place in the Keswick lakeshore community of Pine Beach, which will become a demonstration site showing the potential of people and nature partnerships.

The LSSGBCUF recipients were announced April 15, 2014, at the Carron Farm in Holland Marsh by Peter Van Loan, MP York-Simcoe and Government Leader in the House of Commons, and Dr. Colin Carrie, Parliament Secretary to Leona Agulkkaq, Minister of the Environment.

In 2012, the federal government committed $29-million over five years to continue to support the Lake Simcoe clean-up Fund. Here are the recipients in the first round of $8.6-million in funding:

Lake Simcoe

Project Title: Adopt-a-Stream Crossing Program Recipient: Regional Municipality of York Description: The recipient will stabilize and revegetate stream shoreline areas with native plant species and encourage the community to become stewards of those streams. Educating landowners and others through these actions is also a main component of the program.

Project Title: CNSRVS Recipient: Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority Description: The recipient will support projects including retrofitting septic systems, tree planting, improving/retrofitting streams and on-line ponds, stormwater management pond retrofits, managing milk house waste, managing manure, livestock restrictions, controlling cropland erosion, enhancing wildlife habitat, and irrigation water management.

Project Title: Community Stream Steward Program: Farmland Stream Stewardship Initiative
Recipient: Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters Description: The recipient will work to restore, protect and enhance streams, rivers and adjacent lands by engaging and supporting agricultural landowners. Through outreach, property-specific information and advice, and hands-on implementation of restoration projects and agricultural best management practices, individuals will develop community capacity to be long-term stewards of Ontario’s waterways.

Project Title: Eutrophication Risk Assessment and Adaptive Management Implementation in Lake Simcoe: Integration of the Watershed Processes with the Receiving Water Body Recipient: University of Toronto Scarborough Description: The recipient will build on recent watershed modelling research for Lake Simcoe. The project will explore important questions about the aquatic ecosystem in the lake such as connections between phosphorus loadings and receiving water impacts, sediment-water column interactions, and plankton community response. The modelling work will also be linked and synthesized with other models to determine management strategies that have considerable social and economic implications.

Project Title: Identification and Enhancement of Critical Nearshore Aquatic Habitats to Support Species Recovery on Lake Simcoe Recipient: Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources Description: The recipient will aim to restore three to five critical nearshore habitats through wetland enhancement and spawning area creation. Habitat restoration/enhancement will be combined with species recovery initiatives to support the re-establishment of lost habitat and species to the lake, and support overall biodiversity in the watershed.

Project Title: Lake Simcoe and Southeast Georgian Bay Adopt-a-Stream Recipient: Ontario Streams Description: This project will allow volunteer groups to “adopt” a section of stream, river, wetland or riparian area to care for over the long term. Groups will identify potential restoration projects at their sites and will be guided through the process of planning and implementing these projects.

Project Title: Maskinonge River Recovery Project (Phase 2) Recipient: Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority Description: The Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority will work with landowners within the Maskinonge River sub-watershed to complete restoration and rehabilitation projects that improve the environmental health of the Maskinonge River and Lake Simcoe.

Project Title: Oro-Medonte Best Management Practices – Phase 2 Recipient: Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority Description: A variety of best management practices will be undertaken to reduce non-point source pollution throughout the sub-watersheds. Projects will include septic system upgrades and repairs, establishment of shoreline buffers, reduction of in-stream barriers to fish migration, stream bank erosion control, and agricultural projects to reduce manure, nutrient and bacterial-laden runoff to local watercourses.

Project Title: ReWilding Lake Simcoe: The People and Nature New Stewardship Initiative
Recipient: Ladies of the Lake Conservation Association Description: The recipient will deliver 24 on-the-ground restoration projects, as well as research on landowners’ attitudes, citizen science and a systematic assessment of the impact of stewardship practices. Research results will yield a unique set of urban/suburban best practices to improve habits.  For more on ReWilding, please see the May-June 2014 issue of Lake Simcoe Living, available the first week of May.

Project Title: Scanlon Creeks Restoration Project Recipient: Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority Description: This two-phase project will restore aquatic habitat in Scanlon Creek. In this first phase, the recipient will be creating final design plans of the creek and adjacent wetland using natural channel design and bioengineering techniques.

Project Title: Septic Repair/Replacement Program Recipient: Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation Description: This project will involve upgrading and/or replacing eight faulty or failing septic systems. It will also involve hosting two to three septic maintenance workshops in collaboration with Health Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.

South-eastern Georgian Bay

Project Title: Assessing Nutrient Status and Distribution of Algal Growth Along a Gradient of Cottage Development in 10 Sheltered Embayments of Eastern Georgian Bay Recipient: McMaster University Description: The recipient will analyze and evaluate 10 separate shoreline embayments in the region to better understand the factors contributing to recurring episodes of nuisance algae blooms. The work will allow for the eventual development of a model for shoreline development that municipal governments can reference as they consider measures to lower phosphorus loading from human activities in embayment areas.

Project Title: Coastal Wetland Invasive Species Removal in South-eastern Georgian Bay Recipient: Georgian Bay Forever Description: The recipient will involve the community in an educational and hands-on project that will identify, monitor, log and track the process of eradicating infestations of Phragmites, an invasive species, from wetlands using best practices. Teaching the community to identify the invasive plant and how to take action to minimize impacts on the native plants will establish a culture of stewardship. Geographic Information Systems mapping in the defined area will also be conducted.

Project Title: Enhanced Water Quality Testing Program Recipient: Bayfield Nares Islanders’ Association Description: The recipient will engage cottage association members in a water monitoring program that measures phosphorus concentrations in two inlets of Georgian Bay. The project also involves raising awareness among participants and others about how phosphorus and nutrients impact water quality.

Project Title: Green Ribbon Champion: Engaging Community Coastal Stewardship Recipient: Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation Description: This project offers opportunities for residents to engage in stewardship activities that improve water quality, reduce phosphorus loads and improve biodiversity. Through a series of workshops, local residents prepare stewardship plans for their property and become trained to implement dune restoration on their own waterfront. Successful restorations are awarded with “Green Ribbon Champion” recognition.

Project Title: Honey Harbour Love Your Lake Shoreline Stewardship Project Recipient: The District Municipality of Muskoka Description: The recipient will develop a stewardship program that will empower shoreline property owners to take positive environmental action to protect south-eastern Georgian Bay. This project will engage the public to assess the health of the Honey Harbour area by identifying community needs, creating lasting partnerships to ensure sustainability and ongoing knowledge transfer, and training members of community groups to continue the program beyond the life of the funding.

Project Title: Improving Tools for Phosphorus-based Management of Harmful Algal Blooms and Related Water Quality Conditions in Eastern Georgian Bay Recipient: The University of Waterloo Description: The recipient will develop improved and innovative methods for monitoring phytoplankton variations. This will include responses to phosphorus management, and building improved models for prediction and management of harmful algal blooms in the study area. The improved methods and models will be tested against the new observations.

Project Title: Land Use Effects on Nutrient and Algae in the Middle and Lower Nottawasaga River and the Minesing Wetland Recipient: McMaster University Description: The recipient will conduct a study of changes in nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen) and algae during low water levels in the middle and lower Nottawasaga River. This work will fill in data gaps identified by the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority. The work is also required to calculate a phosphorus budget for the Nottawasaga watershed.

Project Title: Low Impact Development Modelling Tool Implementation and Training Recipient: Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority Description: The recipient will develop an approach for the control of phosphorus in new development areas, develop a phosphorus budget model and manual, and conduct a one-day training workshop to present the importance of low impact development.

Project Title: Sandford Fleming Drive Industrial Park Stormwater Management Facility Retrofit Recipient: Town of Collingwood Description: The recipient will complete an innovative retrofit at the stormwater management facility in Collingwood. This retrofit was developed as a collaborative project to reduce discharges of sediment and nutrients from the industrial park into Georgian Bay. Project Title: Townline Creek 2013 Assessment Report Recipient: Blue Mountain Watershed Trust Foundation Description: The recipient will monitor two streams to identify potential pollution sources and to track changes in stream conditions over time.

Project Title: Wasaga Beach Stewardship and Community Outreach Project Recipient: Wasaga Beach Provincial Park Description: This project includes the protection and restoration of beaches and dune structures through stewardship activities. Stewardship projects include dune restoration and shoreline stabilization, invasive species monitoring and control, and shoreline clean-ups.

Lake Simcoe/South-eastern Georgian Bay

Project Title: Agricultural Landscape Locations of Implemented Nutrient Management Planning Recipient: Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Description: The recipient will be developing and providing a geomatics (site-specific mapping) service to farmers who will be developing and implementing management strategies and plans aimed at reducing phosphorus and nitrogen inputs to the waters of the region. Farmers may also voluntarily contribute information about their specific farming practices to the project to further advance the understanding of their activities on water quality.

Project Title: Evaluation of On-farm Wastewater Treatment Technologies to Decrease Phosphorus Contribution to Surface Water Recipient: Holland Marsh Growers Association Description: The recipient will characterize and quantify horticultural wastewater
discharge from a variety of on-farm agricultural operations across the entire range of the Lake Simcoe and south-eastern Georgian Bay watersheds. Innovative and alternative treatment technologies and management approaches will be selected, demonstrated and evaluated for their ability to reduce point source phosphorus discharge from horticultural operations.

Project Title: EnvironMerit: Strengthening Agricultural Riparian Systems Recipient: Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association Description: The recipient will target areas with known water quality issues within the watersheds. Best management practices will be supported through this project, with a focus on shoreline restoration, livestock fencing, improved stream crossings, alternative livestock watering systems, erosion control projects and wetland enhancements.

Project Title: Lake Simcoe-Georgian Bay Wetland Collaborative Recipient: Ducks Unlimited Canada Description: This project will reduce phosphorus input through the restoration and enhancement of wetlands and their associated uplands across the watersheds. Ten wetland conservation sites will be completed, including the restoration of drained wetlands and the enhancement of degraded habitats through implementation of best management practices that will reduce erosion and nutrient inputs. 

Photo: Peter Van Loan, MP York-Simcoe, is joined by Jason Verkaik (left), President and Operator of Carron Farms, and Richard Simpson, Public Advisory Lake Simcoe Clean-Up Fund Committee Chair (middle), in announcing the details of $8.6-million for 26 clean-up fund projects. Photo courtesy of Peter Van Loan

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