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Monday, May 14, 2007

Ladies of the Lake

The Ladies of the Lake and the now famous nude calendar, followed by their Naked Truth Citizens Action Plan to save Lake Simcoe, were “the tipping point” that led to a federal government grant of $12 million, Simcoe North MP Bruce Stanton told the LOL meeting Saturday.
Mr. Stanton predicted “this is just the start of it”.
That was music to the ears of Virginia Hackson, chairperson of the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority. Ms Hackson said she hopes the $12 million will become an annual grant.
The response of the federal government, along with the successful passage of a Lake Simcoe protection resolution by Simcoe North MPP Garfield Dunlop, heralds a new reality in politics at all levels, she said.
The new power wielded by groups like the Ladies of the Lake and the Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition will make both provincial and federal candidates ignore environmental issues at their peril, Dr. Rick Smith told the audience.
Dr. Smith, the executive director of Environmental Defence, said polls taken in Simcoe County express widespread support for Lake Simcoe environmental issues and deep concern over the anticipated intensification of development in the county, which is not protected by the provincial Greenbelt policy — unlike Georgina on the east side of the lake.
Campaign Lake Simcoe, a joint initiative of the Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition, Environmental Defence and Ontario Nature, has taken the cause of the lake into the halls of Queen’s Park, he said.
Protecting Lake Simcoe has become a priority for a wide-ranging alliance of environmental groupsacross the province, he said.
The support is significant enough to enable a strong push to have candidates for office in the Oct. 10 provincial election declare their support for a Lake Simcoe Act, such as those passed for the Niagara Escarpment and Oak Ridges Moraine, or face the wrath of voters. That act would include sustained annual funding, as those two other areas enjoy.
That new coalition of environment groups is coming together for the first time at a Lake Simcoe Summit, tentatively set for June 18 at the South Shore Community Centre in Barrie, Mr. Smith said.
“The goal of the summit would be to build consensus around the principles in the Act” and then demand politicians running for office support it,” he said.
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