Toronto – Campaign Lake Simcoe will appear before the Committee on General Government at Queen’s Park today to let the McGuinty government know what its member groups have waited to see in a Lake Simcoe Protection Act.
“We are pleased the Act clearly makes a commitment to restore and protect the ecological health of the Lake Simcoe watershed,” said Claire Malcolmson, coordinator of Campaign Lake Simcoe for Environmental Defence. “But, to fulfill that commitment, the Act needs some important changes. The government needs to get this right if the Act is to truly protect Lake Simcoe.”
Amendments to the proposed Act outlined in Campaign Lake Simcoe’s submission include:
1. Effect of Act (S. 3(4) and 5(1) 12.)
The Effective Date of the Act and Plan will be specified in the Plan. The Effective Date needs to be December 6th, 2007, the date of the announcement of the Interim Phosphorus Regulation. To be consistent in the application of new rules set for development, all developments or projects lacking final permits or regulatory approvals must be caught by regulation, be subject to the Act and/or Plan, and meet the environmental and development standards outlined in the Plan.
2. Municipalities’ ability to surpass provincial policies (S. 5(2).)
There should be no policies prohibiting official plans or zoning bylaws from containing provisions that are more restrictive than the provisions in the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan. Municipal jurisdiction to create more restrictive (not less restrictive) standards should be preserved.
3. Appointment of Committee members / Minster’s recommendations (S.19 (4) 6.)
The new governance body that oversees work, progress, and priorities on Lake Simcoe in the years ahead needs to have equal representation from industry, the public and government, meaning 1/3 representation from each of these sectors. Equal representation will ensure fairness and ingenuity moving forward. As the Act is written now, the public and environmental organizations appear to be an afterthought.
“The Act, with minor improvements, will be a world class environmental protection regime that should be modeled in every province in Canada,” said David Donnelly, legal counsel to Environmental Defence.
All the interesting details will be in the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan, which has not yet been released. Campaign Lake Simcoe anticipates that a number of critical issues could be inadequately addressed in the Plan. In order to reflect the purpose of the Act, Campaign Lake Simcoe believes seven key elements need to be included in the Plan:
1. The targets, for phosphorus, surface impermeability, and for natural cover, must follow the advice of the Lake Simcoe Scientific Advisory Committee.
2. It must not allow significant shoreline alteration. Naturally vegetated buffers should be a minimum of 100 metres wide on shorelines and rivers (riparian corridors).
3. The shoreline policy must be even-handed. If someone cannot build a stone dock but a developer can carve a 30-acre hole in the shoreline for 1,000 marina slips that, for example, is not even-handed.
4. Policies covering the above targets must be identified as designated policies: natural cover targets, permeable surface minimums, setbacks from watercourses, wetlands and the lake, and shoreline policies.
5. The Act and Plan must state clearly that regulations apply equally to marinas, resorts and residential developments.
6. Adequate and sustained funding must accompany the Plan, which needs to be reinforced with a practical enforcement regime. Unless the government corrects these long-standing problems of funding and enforcement, progress and positive results will be difficult to achieve.
7. The Plan must have an early Effective Date, clear transition rules, and must not allow grandfathering of projects lacking final permits or regulatory approvals.
Campaign Lake Simcoe’s submission on the Lake Simcoe Protection Act is available to download at http://www.environmentaldefence.ca/campaignlakesimcoe/press/releases.php
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.
For more information, or to arrange interviews, please contact:
Jennifer Foulds, Environmental Defence, (416) 323-9521 ext. 232; (647) 280-9521 (cell)
Clare Mitchell, Ontario Nature, (705) 252-3802; (416) 444-8410