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Monday, August 11, 2008

More cash for Lake Simcoe surfaces

More cash for Lake Simcoe surfaces
Money part of $30M cleanup fund
Posted 52 mins ago

The Hon. Peter Van Loan, MP for York-Simcoe and Government House Leader, on behalf of Canada’s Environment Minister John Baird, today announced funding for the Maskinonge Adopt-A-Watershed in Keswick.

“Community concern about the Maskinonge River’s health has been increasing,” said Minister Van Loan. “Today’s announcement is a first step on working to reverse the decline of a river under environmental stress”

“The Maskinonge is an important part of Lake Simcoe’s watershed,” said Virginia Hackson, Chair of the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority. “We are pleased to join the federal government on this initiative to improve our environment”

In addition to the federal government, the Lake Simcoe Conservation Authority, the Regional Municipality of York, the Town of Georgina, Ministry of the Environment, Ministry of Natural Resources, Friends of the Maskinonge, York Environmental Stewardship and the Town of East Gwillimbury are all supporting the project.

The federal government will be contributing $48,800 from the Federal Government’s Lake Simcoe Clean-Up Fund – almost two thirds of the total project cost of $77,000.

Projects funded by the Lake Simcoe Clean-Up Fund are designed to preserve and protect the environment of Lake Simcoe. These projects are part of an overall investment of $30 million over five years, which was announced in February 2008.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Lake Simcoe and Pre-Election Goodies

Is Lake Simcoe benefiting from pre-election goodies?

In the past month, there have been several funding announcements involving Barrie’s Patrick Brown, Simcoe North’s Bruce Stanton and York Simcoe’s Peter Van Loan. The MPs have handed over anywhere from $6,500 to $315,000.

The trickle of funds are part of the federal government’s five-year $30-million commitment to clean up Lake Simcoe, said Brown – and are not merely photo opportunities in the slow news days of late summer leading into what could be a late-fall election.

“There’s been about 25 announcements throughout the summer around Lake Simcoe. This is my third,” said Brown, at a Tuesday afternoon cheque presentation. He did not provide a list of projects but a scan of the three MPs websites revealed duplication.

This week’s $75,750 will go to stabilize and naturalize the banks in Sunnidale Park, in the city’s north end. Last year, Barrie and the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority upgraded the lower creek, near Simcoe Street.

Naturalizing the banks of creeks allows runoff to be filtered before it runs into the creeks and lake – which reduces phosphorous, and therefore limits algae growth, which in turn improves fish habitat.

Native plants along the banks improve wildlife habitat, prevent erosion and improve the appearance of the creek.

Other projects the local MPs have been involved in include a $6,500 Holland River project in the southern part of the county, as well as a $30,000 contribution to the Kitchener Park naturalization project in Orillia.

Last week, Brown presented a $315,000 cheque for upgrades to Hotchkiss Creek, which flows into Kempenfelt Bay near Tiffin Street in Barrie.

“There’s no federal election this fall – I guarantee you,” said Brown, stressing the announcements are significant only because of the federal government’s desire to clean up Lake Simcoe.

“(The $30 million) is being distributed over five years. There’s no posturing. It’s doing what is right for Barrie, what is right for Lake Simcoe and what is right for Simcoe County,” he said.

Barrie Liberal candidate Rick Jones, however, said the Conservative government is putting cash in Barrie particularly, to gain attention.

“$30 million over five years – in terms of a priority, the environment is not one with this government. Their allocation of funds reflects that,” he said.

The Liberal Green Shift policy would make the environment a priority, Jones said.

“Our first order of business would be very significant. We have a policy,” he said, which encourages individuals and corporations to fight climate change.

“It’s an all-encompassing program. It’s economically sustainable. It’s comprehensive and touches on the corporate and individual levels. It’s not an after-thought. It’s a priority.”