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Campaign boosts significance of Lake Simcoe’s heritage

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May 16th, 2014
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Environmentalists abandon hope of federal designation

By Bruce Hain Innisfil Journal

Sometimes you just have to do it in on your own. So that’s what Barbara Love and Marg Mossman did.

The Innisfil environmentalists have been trying to have the Ministry of Canadian Heritage designate Lake Simcoe as Canada’s first official heritage lake but haven’t had much luck.

“It’s been a long, drawn out process,” Love says.

The women learned early on in their campaign there is no official political process in place to acquire a heritage designation for a lake from the federal government, although there are 43 Heritage rivers in Canada, Love says.

Undaunted, they are still determined to have Lake Simcoe’s heritage recognized without government support, endorsement or funding.

“We’ve had a lot of discussions that has resulted in an announcement that is taking place at the annual dinner of the Lake Simcoe Regional Conservation Authority Foundation on Wednesday, June 11. Lake Simcoe will be dedicated a Heritage Lake,” Love said.

Two representatives from the Chippewa First Nation on Georgina Island will be part of the ceremony.

“Many early explorers, such as Brebeuf, used Lake Simcoe to travel west and open up the province,” Love says. “The historical significance of the lake is very important.”

Mossman and Love hope once the designation is publicized, it will encourage residents, especially those with waterfront properties, to treat the lake with greater respect. They have printed large postcards they are circulating to area businesses in hopes they can be displayed.

Anthony and Nancy Abate of the Pasta Plus restaurant on Innisfil Beach Road were proud to be the first ones to receive and display the postcard.

“My house is open to you two ladies, anytime,” Anthony Abate said.

“We’ve been told by tourism groups that having the designation should have a positive impact on bringing visitors to the region, too,” Love says.

She would eventually like to see a Lake Simcoe trail go through Innisfil to hook up with the trail that links Barrie to Orillia.

“We’re also circulating a petition for people to sign, supporting the Heritage designation,” Love adds. “Many people have said to us, “Isn’t it already?’”

The women are pleased the project is self-sufficient.

“It’s just a grassroots movement and not costing people money,” Love says. “There’s no legislation and won’t change the status of people who live around the lake.”

“The Lake Simcoe Regional Conservation Authority Foundation stands for protection, restoration and education,” Mossman adds. “They do a great job. We are looking forward to June 11.”

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