Connecting Lake Simcoe's Community

North Gwillimbury development threatens wetlands and forests

A new development being proposed for the south shore of Lake Simcoe will have a large impact on one of the watershed’s largest forested areas. Metrus Developments proposed Maple Leaf Estates will turn a core part of North Gwillimbury Forest in the Town of Georgina into a large subdivision. Metrus is relying on a 28-year-old planning approval for a mobile home park to pave the way for its new plans for more than 1,000 detached homes.

The proposed development would disrupt a provincially significant wetland and destroy critical forest cover at a time when the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan calls for increasing forest cover in the watershed.  It would also isolate the Arnold C. Mathews Nature Reserve, created through the vision and generosity of local residents.

A local residents group – the North Gwillimbury Forest Alliance – has formed to oppose the development and has just launched an action-oriented website.

To join the action, learn more and see a map, go to

The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources is working to address a fish virus known as Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS).

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has confirmed that VHS has been detected in several species of fish from Lake Simcoe. MNR is establishing a new management zone around the Lake Simcoe watershed to address the potential spread of VHS to other inland waters and the spread of invasive species to Lake Simcoe.

As a result, commercial bait operators will be prohibited from moving commercial baitfish into or out of the new Lake Simcoe Management Zone beginning January 1st 2012. Anglers are asked to buy baitfish when they arrive to fish in the Lake Simcoe area and not take baitfish out of the area.

The geographic range of this virus in Ontario waters has expanded recently. The virus was first detected in Lake Ontario in 2005. To determine its range, the CFIA has been monitoring Ontario and Quebec waters since 2007.

VHS is a virus that can weaken and kill fish. Not all fish carrying the VHS virus show signs of disease. As with any dead or dying fish or wildlife, pets should not be allowed to eat or come into contact with them. Fish carrying the VHS virus pose no risk to human health.

The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources is committed to discussing long-term strategies to maintain a healthy fishery and bait industry with input from key stakeholders and the public.


In response to the initial discovery of VHS in Ontario, the government set up the VHS Management Zone.

The new Lake Simcoe Management Zone is separate from the VHS Management Zone.

The ministry, in partnership with the CFIA, monitors VHS in Ontario by sampling high risk lakes, studying fish die-offs, and conducting random sampling across the province.


Find out more about Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia.

Read about the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan.

Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act celebrates 10-year milestone but tough road still ahead:
The Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act (the Act), passed Dec. 14, 2001, was enacted to control the aggressive urban sprawl of the mid-to-late '80s that threatened the fragile hydrogeology, geomorphology and ecology of the Oak Ridges Moraine — a source of drinking water for millions of people.

The Act was passed after more than a decade of advocacy and support by grassroots organizations and key politicians.  It became a multi-stakeholder conservation movement crossing political boundaries and ultimately received unanimous all party support- a monumental achievement which today can still be celebrated by stakeholders and citizens.  The Act represented one of the earliest "environment-first" policy frameworks for Ontario and provided a strong precedent for Ontario's Greenbelt Plan (the Plan).    

Earlier this year, the Oak Ridges Moraine Foundation (the Foundation) set out to determine whether the Act and Plan were doing what they were intended to do.  Eight reports under the title "Measuring Success on the Oak Ridges Moraine" have revealed the Moraine is holding its own in terms of its environmental health.  As well, when it comes to adoption and acceptance of the Plan by government, residents, businesses and other stakeholders, the results are generally good. But there were also deficiencies that raise serious concern. 

Only one-third of all streams on the Moraine are functioning as healthy, natural ecosystems.  Rare prairie grassland and savannah habitats are under constant threat as is habitat for interior forest species and species-at-risk.  There are serious legislative gaps and deficiencies that are allowing detrimental activities to continue.  These include the importation of contaminated fill (from off the Moraine into areas of high aquifer vulnerability on the Moraine), the taking of water from Moraine aquifers for developments off the Moraine and the continued building of roads, pipes and utility lines. 

While some gaps and deficiencies were expected, the Foundation felt so strongly about some weaknesses in the Plan that it submitted an application in September 2011 to request that the legislation be reviewed in advance of its scheduled review in 2015.  Sadly, the Province declined the Foundation's request. 

Notwithstanding this decision, "There is still much to celebrate", says Kim Gavine, Executive Director with the Oak Ridges Moraine Foundation.  "We have a plan that recognizes the Moraine as a critical landscape for protecting drinking water, we have engaged stakeholders and we have the Oak Ridges Moraine Foundation who, with new provincial funding, will help the Province meet its goals and objectives under the Act. Unfortunately, without further funding, the Foundation will close its doors in 2012 and the programs it has spearheaded and funded will cease." 

Considerable progress has been made since 2001, but there's a great deal more to do - both on the land (restoring vegetation, improving water quality, protecting critical habitat) and in provincial and municipal offices charged with properly implementing the Act. 

We need to ensure that the Oak Ridges Moraine's value to Ontarians remains secure. 

The Oak Ridges Moraine Foundation (ORMF) is a non-profit organization mandated to preserve, protect and restore the ecological and hydrological health of the Oak Ridges Moraine (Moraine).  Although the ORMF's granting role is currently suspended, we still have a pivotal role to play if the Moraine is to remain protected in the future. 

The ORMF has developed the expertise and network necessary to achieve the task at hand and has requested continued funding from the Province.  Since 2002, the ORMF has allocated more than $14.1 million and leveraged more than $35.8 million to 177 projects in support of stewardship, education, research, trail and land securement projects. With further investment by the Province, the ORMF can build on its success by addressing the challenges with renewed vigour, in order that the Moraine's value to Ontarians remains secure.

On the afternoon of Dec. 22, in line at Pearson Airport, three hours before their flight to Cuba, Jacqueline and Ralf Winter will be carrying with them some very special sporting goods luggage. On their way to their Cuban holiday on the beach of Guardalavaca, Jacqueline and Ralf, who live in Barrie, will be transporting a used racing bike, destined for a high school cycling racing program in Banes, Cuba.

This particular bike is special because it is "Nueva bicicleta #100," the hundredth refurbished racing bike that Jackson’s Point resident — and former Canadian national cycling team member — Jeff Reid has supplied as humanitarian aid to Cuban high school cycling racing programs in Banes, Varadero, Moa and Jaguay Grande, in just two years.

Jeff first donated his own bike, while cycling around on holiday in Cuba in December 2009. Since that time, his personal ‘Bikes for Cuba’ vision has grown. In 2010, helpful Canadian tourists brought 30 bikes down for him. This December, with the help of Jacqueline and Ralf, Jeff’s dream of one hundred racing bikes delivered to four Cuban communities will be realized.

“One of the most heart-warming aspects of this project, is the ongoing generosity of the cyclists who donate the bikes, the parts, the helmets, shirts and shoes,” says Jeff, “and the willingness of so many Canadian tourists to help out. ‘I couldn’t have done it without them’ would be a huge understatement!”

“Jeff has made this so easy,” says Jacqueline Winter of her special 100th Bikes for Cuba cargo. “It’s the least we can do in return for the great hospitality Cubans show almost a million Canadian tourists every year now. And all the young people who will ride these bikes, will get to see that a bicycle really is a wonderful way to get around, especially in a place as beautiful and safe as Cuba.”

For more information, please visit: and

Still time to apply for winter programs at Georgian

The perfect gift this holiday season: education.  No need to wait until next fall to start learning. Georgian College offers many winter programs and it’s not too late to apply now and begin in January. In some cases, you can even fast-track your program!

Traditionally, the academic year begins in September, but Georgian saw its highest full-time spring enrolment numbers ever in 2011, indicating a growing demand for program intakes at multiple points throughout the year.

To support flexibility and to accommodate the diverse and changing needs of prospective students, Georgian now offers programs in a variety of disciplines that will start in January.

A wide range of programs are offered in many locations. 

Providing flexibility and accommodating the diverse and changing needs of prospective students of all ages is key. Georgian offers a large number of programs in a variety of disciplines starting this January. Areas of study include Automotive, Business and Management Studies, Culinary, Community Studies, Design and Visual Arts, Health and Wellness, Hospitality, Tourism and Recreation, Human Services and Public Safety and Security, Liberal Arts and Engineering Technology.

“In today’s competitive environment, many employers demand a specialized post-secondary education from applicants. Georgian graduates enter the job market with an edge to getting the career they want,” said Linda Love, Vice President Academic of Georgian College.

“Many potential students who are thinking about attending college are discovering that they can become job-ready faster by starting classes in January. They don’t need to wait until the traditional fall start to get on track.


By offering full-time and part-time programs, as well as continuing education courses throughout the year, Georgian allows students across the region to study what they want, how they want and when they want. This flexibility allows anyone, regardless of obligations such as family or work, to obtain the education they desire.

By beginning studies in January, students can become trained and enter the workplace sooner.  Students are encouraged to apply soon to avoid disappointment – popular programs fill up fast. Most winter programs will begin Jan. 9.

To learn more about the programs being offered at Georgian College this January, call 705-722-1560 or visit

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