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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Environmental Groups Applaud New Lake Simcoe Protection Bill

Environmental Groups Applaud New Lake Simcoe Protection Bill
All parties urged to support legislation

TORONTO, April 25 /CNW/ - The Campaign Lake Simcoe coalition applauded
Simcoe North MPP Garfield Dunlop for introducing a bill in the Ontario
Legislature today that will protect Lake Simcoe. The proposed Lake Simcoe
Protection Act will create a comprehensive protection program for the Lake
Simcoe and Nottawasaga River watersheds and natural heritage systems.
Simcoe County is now the scene of an unprecedented land speculation rush
that has led to numerous urban expansion applications being appealed to the
Ontario Municipal Board. Residents and local politicians are becoming
increasingly concerned about Lake Simcoe's capacity to assimilate such growth
without significantly impairing lake water quality.
Lake Simcoe was once called "The Ice Fishing Capital of North America".
It teemed with distinctive species such as the Lake Simcoe whitefish. But this
once-abundant fish is now in peril. "Pollution and other insidious threats are
slowly killing Lake Simcoe," said Robert Eisenberg, Founding Chair, Rescue
Lake Simcoe Coalition. "This bill is a critical first step to protecting the
lake, and just as importantly, the watershed that sustains it."
Large-scale urban development is one of the biggest threats to Lake
Simcoe. Less than half of the lake's shoreline was included in Ontario's
Golden Horseshoe Greenbelt, and Simcoe County was excluded. The bill seeks to
address these gaps. Among the several enormous proposed urban developments in
Simcoe County is a subdivision that threatens to destroy one of Lake Simcoe's
last remaining natural shorelines, known as Moon Point. "This type of poorly
planned urban growth jeopardizes prime farmland, wetlands, forests and,
ultimately, the water quality of Lake Simcoe," said Dr. Rick Smith, Executive
Director, Environmental Defence. "All members of the Legislature should
support this bill to protect the lake for generations to come."
If passed, the bill will also restore and regenerate ecosystems
throughout the proposed protection area. "Ontario is a leader in protecting
natural heritage systems and water resources through provincial plans like
those for the Greenbelt, the Oak Ridges Moraine and the Niagara Escarpment.
Extending that type of protection to the Lake Simcoe and Nottawasaga River
watersheds will preserve habitats for endangered species, protect agricultural
lands, and ensure clean drinking water for communities throughout Simcoe
County," said Wendy Francis, Director of Conservation and Science, Ontario
Nature.
"The proposed Act will protect the lake's natural infrastructure like
wetlands, tributaries and natural shoreline areas that are just as critical to
Lake Simcoe's function as roads and sewers are to cities," said David
Donnelly, Gilbert's LLP, counsel to Environmental Defence and a number of
residents' groups fighting development projects. "Some day all watersheds will
be managed this way in Canada."

About Campaign Lake Simcoe: Campaign Lake Simcoe, supported by
Environmental Defence, Ontario Nature and Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition, is
dedicated to protecting the water quality of Lake Simcoe and green space in
Simcoe County. www.CampaignLakeSimcoe.ca.




For further information: or to arrange interviews, please contact:
Jennifer Foulds, Environmental Defence, (416) 323-9521 ext. 232, (647)
280-9521 (cell); Wendy Francis, Ontario Nature, (416) 444-8419, ext. 239;
Robert Eisenberg, Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition, (416) 484-1250

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