Given the track record of Innisfil council, I was not surprised to hear that they think that the Lake Simcoe protection process should slow down in the May 21 edition of The Scope.
It would appear that council are concerned about anything (including protection of the lake) that could potentially get in the way of fast tracking high levels of development in Innisfil.
Your article indicates that council worries that lake protection may be a rushed process. In fact, the process dates back to at least 2006, when Simcoe North MPP Garfield Dunlop brought forward a private members bill to establish a natural heritage system and watershed protection area for Lake Simcoe and the Nottawasaga River. It was almost a year ago that Premier Dalton McGuinty announced his government’s intention introduce a Lake Simcoe Protection Act. I understand that the government is projecting almost another year of a study and consultation before a plan (which would follow from the act) is in place. This is not a rushed job.
From the information provided in your article it would seem that the council is concerned about the momentum in the public to develop an act that will truly protect the lake, by also protecting our land and its woodlands and wetlands. Phosphorus is a symptom of a larger problem. Southern Simcoe County has been left unprotected by its exclusion from the Greenbelt. Subsequently, leap frog development pressures have resulted in the destruction of the woodlands, wetlands and farmland which filter and protect our lake water. We need an act which which will not just remediate the lake’s problems but that will also protect the Lake Simcoe watershed which sustains the lake. We need a strong protection act that is not just about band aid solutions, but one that will address root causes of our lake’s problems. Readers may also be aware that the government of Ontario is considering criteria with which to consider municipal requests to expand the Greenbelt. Currently, only 40 per cent of Lake Simcoe’s shoreline is covered by the Greenbelt. Greenbelt protection would have a huge impact on preserving our natural environment.
It is important that citizens continue to take a strong role in protecting our lake and its natural environment. Unfortunately, we cannot count on our local government. Citizens can make a difference. Readers may wonder what they can do to help ensure that the government produces a strong and effective protection act. I would encourage anyone who cares about the lake to learn more about how an organized group of citizens and scientific experts have banded together to create Campaign Lake Simcoe. Check out their website at Write to McGuinty, Minister of the Environment John Gerretsen and Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Jim Watson. Let the provincial government know if you do not agree with Innisfil council’s request to slow down the process of protecting Lake Simcoe, and inform them if you would like to see the provincial government intervene in the local government’s rush to develop the land which protects our lake.
Maria Baier-Reinio,