There are too many loopholes in the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan, say critics.
Members of the Campaign Lake Simcoe group say the draft report, released Tuesday, needs to be changed.
Dr. Rick Smith, executive director of Environmental Defence and co-chair of the group, said the plan doesn’t properly address new marina or resort developments.
Projects such as the Big Bay Point mega marina and 2,000-unit resort could still be approved by the province, said Smith, but local cottagers will be subject to the law when it comes time to make minor changes to their dock or boathouse.
“We know from past experiences that where transition regulations for development are ambiguous, the environment loses,” he said. “This double-standard and dangerous precedent that this plan proposes cannot be allowed to stand.”
Another flaw is the report’s lack of focus on boat traffic, he said.
“Recreation activity is lumped into ‘encouraging best practices’ category, without even identifying the need to survey how many boats actually use the congested lake,” said Smith.
The timelines aren’t tight and many of the policies in the report aren’t mandatory.
The Lake Simcoe Protection Act, Bill 99, was approved Dec. 10, 2008.
The plan does have a few good points, including a plan to reduce phosphorous, control stormwater run-off and adapt to climate change.
“We will be letting the government know this draft plan raises more questions than it answers,” said Caroline Schultz, executive director of Ontario Nature. “The lake has been degraded by allowing one project after another to slip past rigorous and consistent assessment. This game has to stop.”
Residents are welcome to comment on the draft plan over the next two months. To read the plan and make comments, go to the Ministry of Environment’s website www.ene.gov.on.ca/en/water/lakesimcoe/discussion_paper.php