BARRIE: The Ontario government has just concluded an online public survey on plans to protect and improve Lake Simcoe.
Since launching a 75-day public review of the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan in December, the province has been engaging with local partners, Indigenous communities and residents to help determine if the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan needs to be amended or updated.
“The response we’ve received from the public so far has been extremely informative and helpful,” said Andrea Khanjin, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks and MPP for Barrie-Innisfil.
“For those who care about the health of this vital lake and its watershed, I strongly urge you to share your ideas, thoughts and suggestions before the engagement period closes, so that we can all contribute to the protection of Lake Simcoe for generations to come.”
During the public review period, the province has held two virtual events, including a town hall on February 11, 2021 and a science event on January 28, 2021.
More than 290 people attended the town hall to share their thoughts and feedback on the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan.
They also heard from ministry staff on the current health of the watershed, the progress to date on efforts to protect and restore the lake and the process to review the plan.
The science event brought together over 150 science partners, Lake Simcoe committee members, non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders to share knowledge and research on protecting the ecological health of Lake Simcoe and its watershed.
The event included 17 presentations from organizations such as the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority, Western University, St. Lawrence River Institute, University of Guelph, University of Toronto, Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, and Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs on topics ranging from the status of aquatic life, trends in water quality and watershed management in Lake Simcoe.
Members of the public can continue to take part in the review of the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan by completing an online public survey or providing a written submission to LakeSimcoe@ontario.ca until March 3, 2021.
For more information, visit the Protecting Lake Simcoe webpage. Based on the engagement and the findings from the review, the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks will consider making amendments to the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan by the summer of 2021.
Restoring Lake Simcoe and its watershed is a key commitment of the government’s Made-in Ontario Environment Plan.
• Since 2009, the province’s actions to protect and restore Lake Simcoe have been guided by the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan.
• The plan is the roadmap to improve the lake’s water quality, reduce pollutants and nutrients, such as phosphorus, support sustainable fisheries and address the impacts of invasive species.
• The province released the 10- year report on Lake Simcoe in July 2020, which highlighted progress towards the government’s commitments and results of monitoring programs.
• The province recently invested $581,000 in four new projects to help find better ways to reduce the amount of pollutants and nutrients, such as phosphorus, from entering Lake Simcoe.
• Over 450,000 people living in 23 municipalities depend on the Lake Simcoe watershed every day.
Jill Dunlop, MPP for Simcoe North, said: “Safeguarding and restoring Lake Simcoe is an important issue for my colleagues and I. Ongoing discussions and input from our community members will help us apply the most current science and knowledge available to us during the decision-making process on any amendments to the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan.”
Doug Downey, MPP for Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte, added: “The Lake Simcoe Protection Plan helps ensure the future of a vital resource for over 450,000 people and generations of wildlife. Lake Simcoe is an important source for safe drinking water, as well as a safe ecosystem for diverse life forms.
The Lake Simcoe Protection Plan acknowledges the crucial role of the lake in our broader community, and works to preserve and nurture this local treasure.”