Time to implement – not review – Lake Simcoe Protection Plan, AWARE SImcoe urges MPPs
Letter from AWARE Simcoe chair Don Morgan to MPPs Jill Dunlop, Doug Downey, Andrea Khanjin and others
Many residents who live in the area of Lake Simcoe and are affected directly or indirectly with the health of the lake and the watershed are wondering what is going on with the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan review. The review of the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan was supposed to take place in 2019, and, well, 2019 is over. The end of 2020 is near.
The Lake Simcoe Protection Plan (LSPP) is the best watershed management plan in Canada. It does not need to be “modernized”. It needs to be implemented.
Lake Simcoe is stressed by phosphorus loads, climate change, and invasive species. The Lake Simcoe Protection Plan (LSPP) addresses these issues and lays out regulations, monitoring, and outreach strategies to address these stressors. If implemented, the LSPP would protect the watershed’s health, and its $420 million/year sustainable recreation sector.
Phosphorus loads to the lake have gone up since the LSPP came into effect in 2009. We need a clear and transparent plan for how we are going to achieve the targets of the LSPP. There is no rationale for easing restrictions on phosphorus loads to the lake. No new sewage treatment (ie. the Upper York Sewage System) or communal sewage systems should be added to the watershed before a comprehensive analysis of the phosphorus loads has been completed and a measurable and implementable phosphorus reduction strategy has been completed.
As it stands today, phosphorus levels are rising, climate change has not been addressed by this government, and provincial funding cuts have nearly wiped out the agencies that worked on invasive species management. Due to Growth Plan changes underway, more sprawling development in the Lake Simcoe watershed will cause phosphorus pollution, plumes of sediment in the lake, and foul fish spawning beds. This is no way to protect the jewel of Southern Ontario.
The province has not demonstrated that it understands or is willing to undertake an adaptive management approach to the review of the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan. Scientific monitoring results must support decisions to change the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan.
As you consider your approach to the statutory review of the LSPP, scheduled for this fall, we urge this provincial government to not weaken the Plan.
– An administrative review of the LSPP would be safer for the lake than changing the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan;
– Do not touch the targets or policies of the LSPP; rather, work to achieve the targets;
– Focus on protection of forests and wetlands and a renewed Phosphorus Reduction Strategy;
– Do not allow new sewage treatment plants on the lake; the Upper York Sewage Treatment Plant in particular;
– Provide reliable data, approved by the Lake Simcoe Science Committee, that tracks progress towards the LSPP’s targets and objectives as the basis of the Plan review.
Why? The LSPP is a science-based plan, and any proposals to modify it must be supported by science and research validated by the Lake Simcoe Science and Coordinating Committees.
For the reasons above, we believe that an administrative review of the LSPP is appropriate, rather than opening up the LSPP to policy changes.
New provincial measures and proposals affecting the development approval process will make it harder for residents to challenge development proposals while making it easier for developers to eat up greenfields and destroy habitats of species at risk. They also set us on a course for decades of unsustainable sprawling development, at a time when we need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.
Nearly every MPP in the area campaigned on protecting Lake Simcoe. Now is the time to fulfill those campaign promises by making the choice to protect and implement the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan.