July 23, 2007

Ontario government pledges stronger legislative protection for Lake Simcoe

BARRIE, ONT-The Ontario government intends to enhance protection of Lake Simcoe, where rapid developing has been jeopardizing water quality. Premier Dalton McGuinty said the new Lake Simcoe Act would be developed and implemented in co-operation with municipalities, conservation authorities, local residents, cottage owners, the tourism industry, developers and farmers, as well as environment groups and First Nations. The act would build on the scientific and planning work already done by the province, municipalities, conservation authority and community groups, including: the Inter-Governmental Action Plan, Assimilative Capacity Study and Lake Simcoe Environmental Management Strategy. Specifically, the new act would raise the bar for sewage treatment standards and set strict limits on pollutants such as phosphorous; create a governance structure as recommended by the Lake Simcoe Environmental Management Strategy working group; and promote recreational opportunities while protecting the health of the lake. In April last year, legislation proposed by Garfield Dunlop, Conservative MPP for Simcoe North, received first reading. Bill 106, the Lake Simcoe Protection Act, 2006, would authorize the Lieutenant Governor in Council to designate by regulation the Lake Simcoe and Nottawasaga River Natural Heritage System and Watershed Protection Area. This area would encompass Lake Simcoe, Simcoe County and the other areas of land that prescribed by regulation. The legislation would further allow the establishment of a watershed protection plan for all or part of the area. Any planning, public works or structural projects would have to conform to the plan.

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