The Ontario government made a financial splash on Thursday by investing $1.3 million in four new multi-year projects to further reduce the amount of phosphorus entering Lake Simcoe.
“This lake is really important for our government and really important for our local partners,” said Andrea Khanjin, Barrie-Innisfil MPP and Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. “It’s incredibly rewarding to know that our collective efforts are having a positive impact on the health of Lake Simcoe – a lake and region so many of us, including myself, are proud to call home.”
Signs of recovery in the Lake Simcoe watershed include a 50 per cent reduction in phosphorus from sewage treatment plants entering the watershed, decreased amounts of algae in the lake and successful reproduction of cold-water fish such as lake trout, lake whitefish and cisco.
Since 2018, the Ontario government has committed more than $27.3 million to protect and restore Lake Simcoe, including a $24 million investment for a new phosphorus recycling project to help reduce phosphorus discharges from the Holland River into Lake Simcoe.
Barrie Mayor Alex Nuttall said everything in the city depends on the lake.
“People moved here because of the lake. They enjoy the quality of life because of the lake.” he noted. “It is the lifeblood of our region and we need to do everything we can to preserve and conserve it for the future.”
He also pressed the federal government to live up to a commitment to bring back the Lake Simcoe Clean-Up Fund, something the Liberals cancelled.
It was the previous Conservative government that created the fund but dedicated dollars have been missing in action since 2017. Prior to the 2019 federal election, both the Liberals and Conservatives announced millions of dollars in funds for Lake Simcoe over five years, but the minority Trudeau government was dissolved. During the 2021 campaign, Lake Simcoe was among a number of various waterways the Liberals included in a $1 billion investment project through a 10-year Freshwater Action Plan, but so far there has been nothing brought forward.
“I really hope the province can continue to lead by example with our investment in Lake Simcoe and the federal government can either match our funding or they can come and bring the funding that was previously promised,” said Khanjin.
This year, the majority of funded projects are led by the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority and local partners. These include:
- Water sampling and analysis to monitor phosphorus and other nutrients flowing into Lake Simcoe. This information will be used to help determine which future actions can be taken to improve the lake’s overall health.
- A study of chemicals and metals in the water and sediment that could harm the lake. This research can help identify new threats to the watershed as well as ways to protect it, now and over the long term.
- Creating wetlands and ponds, restoring streams, building channels and planting grasses to better manage stormwater in Innisfil, Newmarket and Oro-Medonte. These projects will help landowners and municipalities lower the pollution going into Lake Simcoe from urban areas.
Banner image: File photo/Barrie 360