Toronto – Under constant threat from poorly planned urban development leapfrogging the Greenbelt and pollution from phosphorus and other harmful substances, Lake Simcoe needs a comprehensive new law to ensure its survival, members of the Campaign Lake Simcoe coalition said today.
Last Thursday, the Minister of the Environment John Gerretsen launched a strategy to protect Lake Simcoe, including most importantly a new regulation to cap phosphorus emissions from Lake Simcoe’s sewage treatment plants and a commitment to subject new development proposals like the Big Bay Point mega-marina to the new Act. “This regulation is not a substitute for the strongest possible Lake Simcoe Protection Act, but needs to be seen as a cornerstone for such an effort,” said Dr. Rick Smith, Executive Director, Environmental Defence.
Campaign Lake Simcoe called on Premier Dalton McGuinty to honour a commitment he made to pass a new law to protect the Lake Simcoe area. “Protecting Lake Simcoe needs to be a priority for this new government. Harmful urban development must be reined in or the lake will never recover,” said Smith.
In announcing plans last July at the Lake Simcoe Summit to introduce the Lake Simcoe Protection Act, Premier McGuinty committed to: no new development that would harm the lake; strict limits on phosphorus; stringent sewage treatment; and a governance structure recommended by the Lake Simcoe Environmental Management Strategy working group. At the time, McGuinty said any new Act would “promote recreation while protecting the health of the lake. We want growth that is good for the lake and the communities that depend on the lake.”
“We were thrilled with the Premier’s announcement. Now our member groups and our lake are counting on the provincial government to follow through, and fast,” said Robert Eisenberg, co-chair of Campaign Lake Simcoe.
While Campaign Lake Simcoe partners support the commitments already made by the McGuinty government, they pointed to additional requirements for ensuring the Act is strong enough to help Lake Simcoe survive and thrive. Additional necessary elements include:
· restoring water quality and quantityto levels compatible with cold water fish reproduction and control of algae and weeds;
· creating a natural heritage and agricultural system to protect green space and restricting new development to existing and approved settlement areas;
· consulting with First Nations to identify and protect First Nations heritage sites;
· ensuring that large-scale resort developments such as Big Bay Point are consistent with the proposed Lake Simcoe Protection Act.
Thirty-seven local groups and non-profit organizations have already stated their support for the recommendations. The full list of recommendations for a comprehensive Lake Simcoe Protection Act is available to download from the Campaign Lake Simcoe web site at www.campaignlakesimcoe.ca.
Lake Simcoe’s Big Bay Point mega-marina development hearing, which just wrapped up at the Ontario Municipal Board, reveals flaws in Ontario’s current planning regime. Through this case, Environmental Defence’s legal counsel exposed a loophole in provincial planning legislation, which allows massive developments to be built outside of settlement areas, if they are called resorts. There is no guarantee that fractional ownership resort developments won’t become condominiums situated far from any services and infrastructure. This end result defies the intentions of Places to Grow and the Provincial Policy Statement.
Campaign Lake Simcoe and the Ladies of the Lake are co-hosting a Holiday Wishing Party for a Lake Simcoe Protection Act with MPPs this evening at Sutton Place Hotel from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. (Bay and Wellesley, Stop 33: 33rd floor). The event is open to the media.
About Campaign Lake Simcoe: (www.campaignlakesimcoe.ca) Campaign Lake Simcoe is a partnership of Environmental Defence, the Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition, and Ontario Nature.
For more information, and to arrange interviews, please contact:
Jennifer Foulds, Environmental Defence, (416) 323-9521 ext. 232; (647) 280-9521 (cell)
Robert Matthews, Chair, Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition, (905) 476-7078