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Friday, November 28, 2008

County Approves Plan for Growth

Simcoe County councillors approved a long-term vision for the county, a new official plan, despite serious concerns from Ontario’s Ministry of Municipal Affairs.

The proposed OP sets out a plan of how the county will grow over the next 25 years. It divvies up how communities will grow and designates four economically strategic zones – two along Highway 400 in Innisfil and Bradford West Gwillimbury, a third at the Lake Simcoe Regional Airport in Oro-Medonte, and the fourth along Rama Road – areas designed to be major industrial, destination, commercial and employment hubs in the region.

The plan also targets population growth for Bradford West Gwillimbury (almost doubling to 49,700), Innisfil (doubling to 65,000), New Tecumseth (increasing by 21,000 to 49,000) and Wasaga Beach (more than doubling to 35,000). Established urban centres like Midland and Penetanguishene would grow marginally, with moderate growth spread throughout the rest of the county.

“The province is asking for a made-in-Simcoe County solution. That is what we have provided them with. These numbers may not be perfect, but these are numbers most of us could live with, until the province revisits the (projections),” said Rick Newlove, the county’s corporate services general manager.

In its plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe known as Places to Grow, Ontario has set population targets for the regions in what it considers Ontario’s and Canada’s economic engine.

The plan is designed to make best use of the infrastructure and human resources in the region, to bolster productivity while protecting prime agricultural and environmentally sensitive lands.

Ontario is directing more growth to southwestern Ontario, rather than north to Simcoe County, although with development community pressures, the province could increase its Simcoe County long-term target of 667,000 in 2011. If all development applications in the process now were to proceed, the county estimates it would have a population of 920,000 by 2031.

The province has set density and intensification targets, to also make better use of existing water and sewer services; however, the county has asked for leniency in those targets – one of four issues Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing regional director Larry Clay raised in a Nov. 10 letter. Clay also asked the county for a land budget – a document to substantiate its growth plans, as well as how the county has allocated population.

Newlove, however, said the province can refine the county’s plan before approving it. He added the county needed to finalize its OP so that lower-tier municipalities can revise theirs to fit with Places to Grow by the June 2009 deadline.

He also argued the four economic districts are critical and will work well because they are not located within settlement areas, and therefore will not be incompatible with residential uses, which could limit shipping or production hours.

Despite those reassurances, some county politicians weren’t keen on signing onto a document they say needs more work.

“More work is still required. It is imprudent to approve this before a land budget is provided,” said Midland Deputy Mayor Ruth Hackney. “The current version is not ready for adoption. It does not meet the objective of a clear and actionable document.”

New Tecumseth Mayor Mike MacEachern also urged caution.

“We have a raceway along Highway 89 because we do not have the units to enable people to work close to home. We’re not prepared to support the county OP in its current state until policies are better thought out. What’s the rush?”

He also wanted the county to define regional market area and polish its economic development policies.

However, most county politicians took the advice of Bradford West Gwillimbury Mayor Doug White.

“This isn’t perfect; all OPs aren’t perfect. That’s why they’re amended all the time,” he said.

“Over time, things evolve. The achievement is we’ve done something we thought we couldn’t do: 16 municipalities got together and came up with a document that asked us all to give up something for something greater.

“We took 16 different colours of string and weaved them together into something beautiful. Are there loose ends? Certainly. But we if pull on a string, it will all unravel.”

Ladies of the Lake - Increase Calendar Sales

Ladies of the Lake, with sponsors BrightStar Corporation, Naked Grape Wines and others working together to save Lake Simcoe, report selling 11,000 calendars by Nov. 15 – 1,000 more than the 2006 calendars sold at this time three years ago.

To date, the calendars have raised $400,000 for programs to help rescue Lake Simcoe.

“People are saying this is a great holiday gift because the photography is beautiful, the proceeds help their beloved lake and the price is perfect for showing they care without breaking the bank,” said Annabel Slaight, co-founder of the Ladies of the lake Calendar. “They are really taken by the artistic approach and information in the action cards.”

“It’s fascinating to me that the Holland Marsh farm scene seems to be people’s favourite photograph,” said Jim Panou the calendar’s award-winning photographer.

“I think it’s because it’s whimsical, yet focuses on two important issues — healthy food and the environment.”

Following the popularity, awareness building, mind shifting and fundraising success of the 2006 Ladies of the Lake “Naked Truth” Calendar, the new 2009 calendar is on sale through area retailers, community groups and online at

The calendar celebrates Lake Simcoe’s natural gifts and the goal of raising awareness. The funds raised with new calendar will be focused on helping youth become involved rehabilitating, protecting and enhancing the lake and the lands that flow into it.

The calendar, which costs $15, features stunning Lake Simcoe area scenes with women artistically posed amidst nature’s beauty.

At a time when people may feel disconnected from nature, the theme is inspired by the traditional thank you for nature’s gifts by the Lake’s first inhabitants thousands of years ago.

Each photograph reflects an interconnectedness with nature and an aboriginal message of hope and guidance for one of 12 interrelated facets of the natural world.

Each calendar also includes a wallet of 16 Lake Simcoe Action Cards with ideas and information about what we can all do to continue loving, stop harming and start helping the lake heal itself.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Lake Simcoe Basin Report 08 - LSEMS

Please follow this link for full report
LSEMS Report

Trail link grows

Trail link grows

Gravel was poured this week on a stretch of abandoned rail line in the north end of Simcoe to create another link in a nationwide trail system.

When the work is done, the pathway will run from Argyle Street to 13th Street in the north end of town and will connect the Lynn Valley Trail to the Waterford Heritage Trail.

It is the missing link in creating a biking and hiking path straight through from Waterford to Port Dover.

It is also a step in hooking up Norfolk County with the national trail system. Once another stretch of trail is completed between Waterford and Mount Pleasant, a trail will run all the way from Lake Erie to Brantford, where the national trail picks up.

"We're extremely excited," said Mark Boerkamp, president of the Rotary Club of Norfolk, Sunrise, the service club that raised the $139,000 needed to fix up the stretch in the north end of Simcoe.

"There will be big spinoffs for tourism."

Kevin Lichach, general manager of community services for Norfolk County, which owns the land the trail is on, said a trail will help local residents lead "healthy, active lifestyles" and help "protect the eco-systems along these corridors."

The county, Lichach said, is devising a trail strategy for the whole municipality, one that will look at creating east-west routes as well as try to provide paths for ATV riders.

A consultant was hired about a week ago and a final report is expected to go to council in February or March of next year.

The trail system could also be used in the future as a service corridor for such things as water and sewer pipes.

"We can put in services and still have a trail," Lichach said.

The stretch of trail in the north end of Simcoe will be known as the Norfolk Sunrise Trail.

The club is planning to put up signage and steel gates at crossroads to prevent motorized vehicles from using the trail.

Funding has come from a Trillium grant, sponsors, and in-kind donations from the county.

The first cyclists could be using the trail in the spring, Boerkamp said.

His club, he added, is planning a fundraising bike trek on the trail shortly after it opens.

"These spinoffs help everybody in the community," he said.

Article ID# 1306565

Monday, November 17, 2008

Winter on the way! A snowsquall warning is in effect for much of Simcoe County

A snowsquall warning is in effect for much of Simcoe County

Environment Canada says cold winds from the west and northwest continue to generate flurries and localized squalls to lee of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay.

The agency says the squalls will persist over much of Simcoe County, and minor windshifts to change position, but heavy snow will be frequent enough to local snowfall amounts up to 15 centimetres today. One main band affects locales to the south of Georgian Bay near Collingwood.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Pilot project shows “great promise” for removing phosphorus pollution

Representatives of local and provincial government gathered near the Town of Newmarket municipal offices Thursday to launch a project they hope will remove phosphorus pollution from the streams and the lake.

Hosted by the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority (LSRCA), the event was held at the Cane Parkway stormwater management pond where a product called Phoslock was applied to the water. The project is being operated in partnership with, and funded by, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment.

“The lake is a vibrant part of our geography and the symbol for our watershed,” said East Gwillimbury Councillor and LSRCA Chair Virginia Hackson. “Although problems end up in the lake, that’s not where they begin. Problems like phosphorus begin here, upstream from the lake, and solutions need to be applied here.”

Phoslock was mixed with water to form a slurry, which was then spread on the surface of the pond. As the mixture sank through the water, it attracted dissolved phosphorus in the water and locked it up so it was no longer available as a nutrient to plants and algae.

Through extensive testing and usage around the world, Phoslock has been demonstrated to remove up to 95% of the phosphorus and not to harm the water or the plants and animals that live there.

The project will investigate the effectiveness of Phoslock and to determine if it is appropriate for use in other sites in the watershed including the Holland Marsh. “

Phoslock shows great promise,” Hackson said. “We hope new solutions like this will continue to advance our effort to restore balance to our watershed and to our lake. Because balance is what lies at the heart of what we all want – what we’re all working for. Balance will help us achieve an environment that fulfills our needs today, and will be there to fulfill the needs of the generations to come.”

Phoslock is made from clay and an element called lanthanum. These substances are not harmful in the concentrations that will be applied in this project. Lanthanum, in fact, is taken internally by kidney disease patients as a medical treatment to reduce phosphates in their blood.

Next steps in the Cane Parkway project will be monitoring for the next month to determine how effectively the application has reduced phosphorus in the pond. At the same time, the LSRCA will monitor for other signs of change.