The long-awaited review of the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan will begin this Fall.
On Friday, July 17, Barrie-Innisfil MPP Andrea Khanjin announced that the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks will initiate the statutory review of the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan in the Fall of 2020 to determine if the Plan needs to be changed.
The ministry also released the 10-Year Report on Lake Simcoe by the Ontario Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks: https://www.ontario.ca/page/ministers-10-year-report-lake-simcoe.
The 10-year report on Lake Simcoe shows the restoration of more than 15 kilometres of degraded shorelines, the planting of more than 55,000 trees and shrubs, and the creation and restoration of 120 hectares of wetlands have resulted in encouraging signs of recovery including:
- A 50-percent reduction in phosphorus loads from sewage treatment plants entering the watershed;
- Decreased amounts of algae over time; and
- The successful reproduction of cold-water fish such as lake trout, lake whitefish and cisco.
"The results of the 10-year report are very encouraging, but there is more work to be done," said Andrea Khanjin, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks and MPP for Barrie-Innisfil. "We all have a role to play to restore and protect the lake and I am proud Ontario will continue working to keep Lake Simcoe clean."
A backgrounder also was released, explaining $581,000 in funding for four new projects to help find better ways to reduce the amount of pollutants, such as phosphorus, from entering Lake Simcoe: https://news.ontario.ca/ene/en/2020/07/ontario-taking-steps-to-improve-the-health-of-lake-simcoe.html
The Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition, Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition and Lake Simcoe Watch and their member groups have been campaigning together to engage the public in this significant policy review.
“The province’s timeline on the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan policy review allows interested members of the public to analyze the province’s reports, and to collaborate in order to provide the best advice possible about the LSPP review,” says Claire Malcolmson, executive director of Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition.
“We appreciate that. It also gives the province time to hear the expert advice of two provincial Lake Simcoe multi-stakeholder committees which have not met since 2018.”
Lake Simcoe’s health is still struggling and it cannot afford any weakening of its protection policies, the groups maintain.
In addition to the protections in place in the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan, Malcolmson says the policy review now planned for the fall affords the province a chance to further strengthen the Plan by:
- Bringing down phosphorus loads to the lake to achieve or beat the targets of the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan through a renewed Phosphorus Reduction Strategy;
- Increasing protections for natural heritage features like forests, wetlands and shorelines to help support biodiversity, and to address phosphorus loading, warming water temperatures, and climate change.
“We are pleased that the province is spending money on research and monitoring in areas that we agree are important to the lake’s health, says Margaret Prophet, executive director of the Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition.
“Sound science, evidence and climate change projections need to form the basis of improvements to the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan. It is a science-based plan; it needs to stay that way.”
If you want to know more about the issue, the groups’ positions, and research, see:
What is the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan explainer video: www.rescuelakesimcoe.org
Lake Simcoe Protection Plan, 2009 https://rescuelaketempdomain.blog/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/merged-pdf.io_.pdf
Cleaning Up Lake Simcoe, a Discussion Paper by Lake Simcoe Watch: https://lakesimcoewatch.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Simcoe-Book-final.pdf
The Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition is a lake-wide member-based organization that provides leadership and inspires people to take action to protect Lake Simcoe. www.rescuelakesimcoe.org
The Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition is a diverse coalition of 40 organizations from across Simcoe County and the province calling on local and provincial leaders to better protect our water resources, green spaces and farmland through smart growth and sustainable policies including expansion of the Greenbelt into Simcoe County. www.simcoecountygreenbelt.ca
Lake Simcoe Watch is a joint initiative of the following organizations: AWARE Simcoe, the Innisfil District Association, South Lake Simcoe Naturalists, North Gwillimbury Forest Alliance, Lake Simcoe Association, STORM Coalition and the West Oro Ratepayers Association (WORA). www.LakeSimcoeWatch.ca
Quick Facts from the Ontario Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks
- The restoration of Lake Simcoe and its watershed is a key commitment of the Ontario Government’s Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan.
- Since 2009, the province’s actions to protect and restore Lake Simcoe have been guided by the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan, which focuses on the lake’s water quality, reducing phosphorus levels, caring for natural heritage, and addressing the impacts of invasive species and other emerging threats.
- In the lake, total spring and ice-free (May through October) phosphorus concentrations have been consistently low since the 2015 Five-Year Report and have dropped significantly from 1980 to 2018.
- Over the long term, the amount of algae in the lake has decreased, and deep water dissolved oxygen has improved, supporting the potential recovery of cold water fish.
- Cisco, a cold water fish whose population was once in steep decline, are continuing to show positive signs of recovery. After a 13-year closure, the cisco winter fishery was reopened in 2015, and cisco continues
- Over 450,000 people living in 22 municipalities depend on the Lake Simcoe watershed every day