Leigh Blenkhorn 

PC Leader John Tory was in Barrie Wednesday to pledge support for Lake Simcoe. He was joined by local MPP Joe Tascona and Barrie federal MP Patrick Brown
John Tory, leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party, made a stop in Barrie Wednesday to pledge $12 million to protect Lake Simcoe.
If elected, he said the Conservatives would invest the money over the next two years in the form of a Lake Simcoe Action Fund.
Tory’s announcement follows a similar move by Premier Dalton McGuinty, who unveiled a Lake Simcoe Protection Act in Barrie on July 6.
“It will be used to fund existing organizations and other new programs designed to preserve and improve the health of the lake,” Tory said. “This would represent a new investment in Lake Simcoe by the government of Ontario, something that should have been taken place before now.”
Tory has created an eight-point plan for the lake that includes providing the funds, creating a governance structure for the lake, creating a Lake Simcoe Charter, increasing funding for water and wastewater infrastructure and stopping the dumping of primary sewage.
He has also proposed the hiring of more conservation officers, the conservation of more green space, and an investment for better GO Train service through the area to reduce pollution.
“We are going to take real action on Lake Simcoe to ensure that it’s protected and preserved for future generations.”
Tory said he feels strongly about protecting the lake and that is why he mentions it specifically in the party’s platform.
“When it came time that I could buy a cottage for our family, I bought one on Lake Simcoe because I’d grown up here, and I love it here and I treasure the lake, so it’s something that provides me with additional motivation beyond the public interest that rests in doing something about the lake.”
Tory was joined on Barrie’s waterfront for the announcement by area Conservative politicians, Barrie-Simcoe-Bradford MPP Joe Tascona, Simcoe North MPP Garfield Dunlop, Simcoe Grey MPP Jim Wilson and PC candidate for the new riding of York Simcoe, Julia Munro.
Tascona said the funding would help the efforts of local groups and residents to protect the lake.
“It’s been too long that we’ve said we’re going to do this, and we’re going to do that,” he said. “We have got to get everyone together that’s got a stake in Lake Simcoe, the municipalities, conservation authorities, the citizens.”
Wilson said the announcement is not only important for the communities on the lake, but for all communities in the Lake Simcoe ecosystem.
“My municipalities in Simcoe Grey from Alliston to Collingwood are all affected by Lake Simcoe and all of our rivers and streams go into the lake. I want to make sure that our water treatment and sewage treatment plants are part of that announcement here today,” he said. “We need to take part and promote the idea that the lake needs to be cleaned up.
Munro said after living around the lake for 35 years, the announcement was music to her ears.
“I’ve worked with a number of these organizations over the years and so for me this is a particularly important day … I was aware of the other announcement made by the premier and the contrast that we had already identified Lake Simcoe in our platform so it was very important to be here.”
She said it’s important for communities, business and government to recognize that the lake cannot be squandered.
“I think that too often people have thought that it was something that was so big and powerful that you didn’t have to worry about it,” she said. “Squandering a resource is something that no one wants to be accused of.”