BY JOHANNA POWELL
Any lingering doubts about the need for a stringent Lake Simcoe Protection Act were quashed by Ladies of the Lake co-founder Annabel Slaight in November, when she addressed a provincial government committee that was hearing deputations on the proposed law.
What changes have you seen recently in the lake, Slaight was asked. “I’ve seen more weeds than I’ve ever seen before,” Slaight replied. “And I’ve seen more distressing behaviours from people, such as carrying out rocks and putting in a Miami beach, like in Florida.
“Human activity is the reason the lake is a mess. People must change their ways.”
And a huge increase in human activity is forecast for the Lake Simcoe watershed, which encompasses all of the land that drains into the lake. There are now 350,000 people living on the watershed. By 2035, there will be 700,000 people.
As this issue of Lake Simcoe Living went to press, the proposed act was expected to be passed into law by the end of the 2008 calendar year. After the act is passed, the government can release the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan, a draft plan setting out the steps needed to preserve the lake.
The act and the plan are supposed to be the best efforts of the provincial government, drawing on the advice of scientific advisory and stakeholder committees it had set up. Many people who spoke to the government
committee examining the bill urged members to heed this advice.
One such presenter was Claire Malcolmson, the project co-ordinator for Campaign Lake Simcoe, which represents
45 community and environmental groups that are working to protect the Lake Simcoe watershed. Some of the critical
elements that CLS wants to see are:
• The plan should adhere to the provincially mandated scientifi c advisory committee’s recommendations on targets for annual phosphorus loading, the amount of natural ground cover, and the percentage of impermeable surface to be permitted in the Lake Simcoe watershed.
• Rules and regulations must apply equally to marinas, resorts and residential developments.
• Any further development should leave a natural buffer of at least 100 metres on shorelines and rivers that can be used as a wildlife corridor.
• No signifi cant shoreline alteration.
• Funding must be available.
• The plan must be effective Dec. 6, 2007.
That would mean no grandfathering of any development project that lacks final permits or regulatory approvals.
There will be a 60-day comment period for anyone who is concerned about Lake Simcoe to demonstrate support for
the plan — or voice concerns. This could be the last opportunity to make sure the provincial government gets it right. LSL
For a special report by John Hicks, vice-chair of the York Environmental Stewardship Council, on the impact of stormwater ponds, go to www.lakesimcoeliving.com. Look for the Preserve Lake Simcoe link.