Author: Bruce Hain, Staff
They left their clubs at home.
Nevertheless, a plethora of community-based organizations dedicated to the health of Lake Simcoe gathered last Saturday afternoon at the Big Bay Point Golf Club to celebrate their success in championing the Lake Simcoe Protection Act and the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan.
Delegates from community groups from around the lake, environmental activists, cottagers, property owners, politicians and government officials met to review the progress to date, and to discuss what steps are needed in the future.
Representatives from the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority, Ladies of the Lake, Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Site 41 ‘Champions’ and the federally supported Lake Simcoe Cleanup Fund presented updates on their work.
“It was a really exciting event,” said Nicholas Rolfe, Campaign Lake Simcoe Co-ordinator for Environmental Defence. “We had approximately 90 people in attendance. We had an informal celebration of the passing of the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan.
A number of leaders and supporters of the fight to save Lake Simcoe were recognized by their peers, too.”
Rob Keffer, a farmer and environmentalist was recognized for his work on behalf of the Bradford West Gwillimbury and Bond Head Residents for Responsible Government.
Moon Point residents Donna Gowlands, Robin Taylor and Mary O’Farrell-Bowers, whose opposition to a proposed shoreline development jumpstarted the Lake Simcoe campaign were honoured.
Innisfil resident Christy Burton was noted for her work with the Site 41 dump Champions group. Don Avery and Roger Parkinson of the Innisfil District Association were feted, too.
Burton, a resident on the 10th Line, said, “There were a great number of organizations being celebrated. It was certainly an honour to be involved.
“It’s an example of how just a few citizens can make a great difference and very heartening to know there were so many people in Innisfil who care about our environment.”
Other honourees included Annabel Slaight, founder of the Ladies of the Lake and Bob Eisenberg and Tim Crooks of the Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition.
Rolfe said the group discussed future steps to take regarding the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan.
“The big emphasis remains watching over the Plan,” Rolfe said. “There has been some questionable issues arise. We need to watch local municipalities, conservation authorities, the province, and developers to make sure everyone is contributing to a safe, sustainable and healthy watershed – and living up to the standards of the Lake Simcoe Protection Act.”
The coalition also wants continued public input on future developments on, or near, Lake Simcoe, without the fear of reprisals from development firms.
“A day like Saturday shows there is lots of support for building on the Lake Simcoe watershed plan,” Rolfe said.