There is a lot at risk, writes Tia Harish.
Lake Simcoe is one of Ontario’s greatest sources of both economic prosperity and natural beauty. Whether it is the fishing industry, tourism, or personal enjoyment, everyone in the Lake Simcoe area benefits from the lake in some way.
The Lake Simcoe area population is expected to double by 2050, as more people are attracted by the rich natural beauty of the area and the opportunities for recreation.
If Lake Simcoe is not preserved, it is possible the area could lose some of its appeal. This would negatively affect the region; hotels, restaurants and other tourist destinations could be forced to close, thousands of people could lose their jobs, and it would greatly damage the value of businesses and property.
While that is a worst-case scenario, it is still a possible threat. If the economy is to be kept afloat, the environment must be protected.
Two of the most serious threats to the lake are climate change and phosphorus.
Preparation for the effects of climate change is incredibly important. Some members of the community may recall the tragedy of Hurricane Hazel, the tropical storm that swept through the U.S. and Southern Ontario. Areas were completely flooded, people lost their homes and even their lives; but the extent of this tragedy could have been lessened if the area had been prepared for flooding.
Ontario, however, was not prepared. And now, the province faces another threat — the decreasing health of natural lakes and the surrounding environment.
Canada continues to warm twice as fast as the rest of the globe, and this affects the local wildlife. Without preparation, species can go extinct in a matter of a few years and the lake could be damaged beyond repair. Species will die out faster if phosphorus levels rise with the temperature.
There are hundreds of ways to prepare for the impacts of climate change, and there are many ways to prevent it. The impact that global warming and climate change (along with natural disasters and man-made disasters) will have on Lake Simcoe can be lessened if people make the effort to protect the lake and its watershed.
You are invited to comment on the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan as the Ontario government undertakes a 10-year review of the plan.
Additional information about the LSPP review and a link to the provincial survey are available at: https://www.ontario.ca/page/consultation-lake-simcoe-protection-plan-10-year-review
The deadline for completing the survey is March 3, 2021.
There is also a virtual Town Hall on Feb. 11 at 12:45 pm.
Register for the Town Hall at: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/virtual-town-hall-on-the-lake-simcoe-protection-plan-10-year-review-tickets-137870872491
Tia Harish is a Grade 11 student at Richmond Hill High School. For September 2020 to January 2021, Tia was an intern with Lake Simcoe Living through the co-op program at RHHS.
Photo of swan by Tony Bellissimo. See his photo blog at https://www.facebook.com/LakeSimcoeAssociation