A delegation from Campaign Lake Simcoe (CLS) spoke before the Committee on General Government in Toronto on Monday to let their views be known on what should be contained in the upcoming Lake Simcoe Protection Act.
Claire Malcolmson, co-ordinator of Campaign Lake Simcoe for Environmental Defence, said, “We are pleased the Act clearly makes a commitment to restore and protect the ecological health of the Lake Simcoe watershed. 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.”
Malcolmson’s group would like to see the effective date of the Act changed to December 6, 2007, when the Interim Phosphorous Regulation came into effect. This means all developments or projects that don’t have their final permits, or regulatory approvals, must meet the environmental and development standards contained in the Act. That would include the controversial Big Bay Point Resort, which has been approved by the Ontario Municipal Board.
Municipal governments should also have the option to pass official plans or have zoning bylaws that are even more restrictive than the Lake Simcoe Protection Act.
Earlier this year, Innisfil Council approved a letter drafted by town staff expressing concerns over the speed in which the Act is being enacted.
Planning and development director Robert McAuley said at the time he believed “the process is on the fast track,” and the Act may be focusing too much on stopping new development near the lake.
Placing onerous restrictions on new development would likely influence Innisfil’s long-term growth strategy, McAuley stated.
Campaign Lake Simcoe also wants the committee that will oversee the progress of the act in the coming years to have equal representation from industry, the public and levels of government.
In addition, the CLS wants the act to contain a series of several “key elements”, Malcolmson says.
They include:
• Targets for phosphorous, surface impermeability and natural cover;
• Not allowing significant shoreline alterations;
• Any shoreline policy must be “even-handed”;
• The Act must state any regulations apply to marinas, resorts and residential developments;
• Adequate and sustained funding must be given along with “a practical enforcement regime”;
• There must be an early effective date and no grandfathering of projects lacking final permits or approvals.
David Donnelly, legal counsel for Environmental Defence, says The Lake Simcoe Protection act, “with minor improvements, will be a world-class environmental protection regime that should be modeled in every province in Canada.”