Toronto – Following a month of collaboration with groups and citizens around Lake Simcoe, Campaign Lake Simcoe has released its response to the provincial draft Lake Simcoe Protection Plan.
“This Plan needs significant improvements,” said Dr. Rick Smith, Executive Director of Environmental Defence. “We are not going to support this in its current form. It needs to apply to residents, cottagers and developers equally. Right now, there’s no guarantee of that.”
“We think the Lake Simcoe Protection Act and Plan should change some elements of the Big Bay Point developer’s plan, like the 30 acre hole in the shore for the marina. But this is just one of many developments, including marina-resort developments proposed around the lake. It sets an awful precedent. If Minister Gerretsen is aiming to ‘set the gold standard for creating sustainable communities that safeguard the environment they depend on and enjoy’, this simply doesn’t do the job,” said Don Avery, President of the Innisfil District Association.
Already, Campaign Lake Simcoe’s response, called “Plan for Success”, has the support of 10 groups including the Federation of Ontario Cottagers, Ladies of the Lake and the Innisfil District Association. Campaign Lake Simcoe expects dozens of groups will endorse its submission.
Campaign Lake Simcoe’s top 10 recommendations:
1. Make the Act and Plan effective as of December 6, 2007 (the date the interim phosphorus regulation 60/08 was introduced).
2. The Act must apply to residents, cottagers and developers equally – no special favours for developers. In this Plan’s transition regulations, developments with planning approvals that lack outstanding environmental approvals, such as the Big Bay Point development, must be required to obtain environmental approvals that comply with the Act and Plan.
3. “Settlement areas” must not be expanded and new settlement areas must not be created in the watershed. Significant new development should be restricted to existing urban settlement areas. Any “settlement area” expansions must be directed away from the lake, follow the Places to Grow density targets, minimize sprawl, and follow all of the Plan’s environmental regulations. Large-scale new urban settlements should not be permitted to masquerade as “resorts”.
4. Paved, or impervious, surfaces must not exceed 15% of the watershed. Scientists say aquatic biological systems begin to degrade when 10 – 15% of a watershed is paved, or impervious. The watershed has already reached or exceeded the critical ecological threshold for impervious surfaces.
5. Early on, develop a recreation policy that goes beyond studying carrying capacity, to involve the public in enjoying the lake, and participating in its rescue, and to stimulate economic activity. Instead of encouraging best practices for recreational facilities, this policy should aim at developing a regulation within two years that deals comprehensively with the operation of recreational facilities in the Lake Simcoe watershed, including marinas, and deals with enforcement of this regulation.
6. Provide funds for increased enforcement and enforcement training. The current enforcement effort and capacity in the watershed is inadequate and needs resourcing.
7. At least as a start to achieve the 40% natural cover target Policy # 6.43 must be changed to: “Within two years of the date the Plan comes into effect, the MNR in collaboration with First Nations and Métis communities, will identify and map areas of high quality natural cover that are 25 hectares or greater for the purposes of permanent protection.”
8. The dissolved oxygen level target (7 mg/L) must be reached by September 15th each year, before the winter lake turnover.
9. No new mineral aggregate operations should be permitted in protected Natural Heritage Features.
10. Funding the creation of new stormwater management facilities and retrofits must be prioritized, and not rely on a 1/3 contribution of cash-strapped municipalities to trigger federal or provincial funding.
“This Plan could be a precedent setting model for other lakes across the province. Protecting water quality and
green space through sustainable waterfront development is important to all of our members. We know from our
experience that this comes by way of voluntary action backed by appropriate regulation. The enforcement aspects
of this proposed Plan are still lacking,” said Terry Rees, Executive Director of the Federation of Ontario Cottagers’ Associations (FOCA).
Campaign Lake Simcoe’s full set of recommendations, called “Plan for Success”, can be downloaded on the Campaign Lake Simcoe web site at: http://www.environmentaldefence.ca/campaignlakesimcoe/pub/PlanForSuccess…
About Campaign Lake Simcoe: (www.CampaignLakeSimcoe.ca) Campaign Lake Simcoe is a partnership of Environmental Defence, the Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition and Ontario Nature and welcomes participation from all citizen groups who care about Lake Simcoe.
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For more information, or to arrange interviews, please contact:
Jennifer Foulds, Environmental Defence, (416) 323-9521 ext. 232; (647) 280-9521 (cell)