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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Plan aimed at reviving lake Simcoe

Ontario's draft Lake Simcoe Protection Plan will create a healthy future for the lake by limiting shoreline development, decreasing pollutants and returning its fish population to vigorous levels, says Ontario's Environment Minister John Gerretsen.

Gerretsen, who calls the protection plan the first of its kind in Canada, released a draft report recently, predicting it will turn around the beleaguered lake, one environmentalists say has long been ignored by various governments, developers and recreational boaters.

"What I would like to see, 10, 15 or 20 years from now, is a healthy lake, with phosphorous levels that are acceptable, with a good sustainable fishery again, so everybody can enjoy the tremendous advantages that the lake affords to people in a number of ways," Gerretsen said in an interview.

Among the highlights of the draft plan:

The creation of shoreline protection zones of 100 metres for undeveloped areas, 30 to 120 metres in built-up shoreline areas and 30 metres in some settled areas.
Targets for reduction in the lake's single largest pollutant, phosphorous, aiming for 44,000 tonnes a year instead of the current 67,000 tonnes. (Phosphorous comes from sewage plants, storm sewers, septic systems, urban and agricultural run-off and airborne particles.)
Master plans for municipal controls on storm-water runoff, another major source of pollution.
Available for public input for 60 days, the draft plan was greeted with both delight and disdain by environmental groups.

"Any plan that purports to protect Lake Simcoe is phenomenal," said Bob Eisenberg of the Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition.

But Eisenberg and others, like Rick Smith of Environmental Defence, say many parts of the plan are nothing more than targets with no real power to force change.

Smith said the plan fails to address new marina and resort development, does not properly deal with boat congestion and allows for the grandfathering of large developments, like Big Bay Point.

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Friday, January 16, 2009

'Fresh eyes', perspective needed for summer initiative on Lake Simcoe

'Fresh eyes', perspective needed for summer initiative on Lake Simcoe

Ready ... set ... and ... action!
Lake Simcoe will likely see a lot of action this summer - film action, that is - as more than 100 teenagers are expected to get behind the lens and shoot movies in and around Georgina's most precious natural resource.

The initiative aims to get young people excited about the lake through filmmaking and to show its beauty and ecological importance "through fresh eyes," said Annabel Slaight, a member of the Ladies of the Lake, which, along with the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority and the Windfall Ecology Centre is sponsoring the project.

The $400,000 initiative, dubbed Behind the Lens - Lake Simcoe Revolution, is an eight-week program where 100 young people 14 to 19 will create, through movies they shoot and edit, an increased appreciation for the importance of Lake Simcoe and the many ecological challenges it faces.

"We want this to be a 21st century revolution for Lake Simcoe and we hope these efforts may be used to help lakes in other parts of the world," Ms Slaight said to a backdrop of nature slides showing the lake's many beautiful and unique features to the 1988 hit song Talkin' About a Revolution by Tracy Chapman.

The vision is a two-month film school where students will travel the lake in a solar-assisted mobile studio that travels between five locations with equipment and facilities.

They will learn the art of filmmaking through one-on-one coaching and a specially created website.

In the end, teams of five young people will shoot 20 films.

Then, to showcase the work of these up-and-coming movie directors, there will be a film festival in six locations across the watershed, two in outdoor venues.

The films will go online and be shared worldwide as a prelude to connecting lakes in other countries.

Finally, a conference, called Where Waters Meet, will bring together 25 to 30 lake experts for a two-day workshop using the films to plan a collaborative community effort and action to protect, restore and sustain the lake's health.

The project doesn't come without a cost, however, and council was asked to share in the financial burden of pulling off such a revolutionary effort.

Ms Slaight asked Georgina to consider a $5,000 donation, plus any expertise or other "in kind" assistance.

The one-time cash request will be sent to staff to see where the funds, if any, are available, council decided.

The province has been supportive, as well, Ms Slaight said, through its Go Green drinking water fund and the Trillium fund.

Young people interested in being a part of this once-in-a-lifetime adventure should keep reading The Advocate for updates and information on when and where to apply.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Public urged to dive into Lake Simcoe Protection Plan

Public urged to dive into Lake Simcoe Protection Plan
Draft available for comments until March 16

TORONTO - The province is asking Ontarians to comment on the draft Lake Simcoe

Protection Plan.

The plan represents the next step in protecting Lake

Simcoe and follows the passage of the Lake Simcoe Protection Act on

Dec. 10. Building on Ontario's watershed-protection approach in the Clean

Water Act, the new act requires the province to establish a protection plan

for the lake and surrounding areas. The draft Lake Simcoe Protection Plan is

the most comprehensive watershed-based legislated plan in Canada. The draft

plan is based on advice from the Lake Simcoe science and stakeholder advisory

committees and from the people who live and work around Lake Simcoe.

The draft plan proposes voluntary and mandatory measures to restore and

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protect the ecological health of Lake Simcoe and its watershed starting with

the most critical areas:

- Improving water quality by curbing the amount of phosphorus entering

the lake and reducing the lake's current excessive phosphorus levels

to 44 tonnes a year

- Protecting and rehabilitating fish habitat, wetlands, woodlands and

the vegetation that buffer the lake, rivers and streams

- Managing the potential impacts of climate change and invasive


Going forward the plan would not be applied to existing developments or

development proposals that have already obtained significant development


The Ontario government has also committed $20 million over four years to

help protect Lake Simcoe through research, monitoring and on-farm stewardship


The draft plan is available for public comment until March 16. Read

and comment on the plan at or through the

Environmental Registry at The posting

number is 010-4636.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Invasions of exotic species

Lake Erie most vulnerable to future invasions of exotic species: report

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — A U.S. report says dozens of foreign species could spread across the Great Lakes in coming years and cause significant damage to the environment and economy, despite policies designed to keep them out.

The National Center for Environmental Assessment issued the warning in a study released this week.

At least 185 are known to have a presence in the Great Lakes, although the report says just 13 have done extensive harm to the aquatic environment and the regional economy.

Perhaps the most notorious are the fish-killing sea lamprey and the zebra mussel, which has clogged intake pipes of power plants, industrial facilities and public water systems, forcing them to spend hundreds of millions on cleanup and repairs.

The report suggests that Lake Erie — shallowest of the lakes — and the shallower portions of the other lakes were most vulnerable to invasions.

Shallow areas tend to be warmer and have a greater variety of life than deeper water, said Mike Slimak, an associate director of the national centre.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Many predict it will be a great ice fishing season

Icemen cometh

A village of ice huts is massing along the shores of Cook's Bay as operators prepare for an early start to the fishing season.

While other parts of Lake Simcoe only froze last week, and many local waterways are still dangerous, the shallow bay is the first area ice fishers flock to each winter.

"There are excellent conditions for this time of year, better than last year. The ice is about five or six inches thick," said Vito Villani, of Love to Fish Simcoe, in Belle Ewart.

He's putting out 10 huts today and another six later this week.

"Where we are, the ice is good, but the farther north on Cook's Bay you go, there's only three inches or so. It all depends where you are," he said.

Joanne Maglietta, of Lake Simcoe Bait and Tackle, said anyone wanting to venture out on-t o Kempenfelt Bay should be patient.

"We 've had a few customers testing it out. One went to Minet's Point and said it was about two-and-

a-half inches thick. He said he was going to wait a bit longer yet," she said

"It will be a few more days or a week. We'll just have to wait a bit longer," she added.

Chad Paiero, of Lucky's Sons ice hut rentals in Lefroy, will be dragging out 16 huts today, as well as huts for customers and people in the area.

"We're looking forward to a good season. It's a little earlier this year," he said. "The ice is good out here and the last couple of weeks, people have been having good luck."

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Patrick Brown - Conserv

Fishing expert Wil Wegman said he's not surprised.

"The perch fishing is going to be fantastic this year. There's thousands out there. The population is incredibly stable," he said.

"We're blessed with a fabulous perch fishery in Lake Simcoe and Cook's Bay is prime. The lake trout and whitefish populations appear to be stable, too," he added.

Maglietta is hopeful Mother Nature continues to help out with cooler weather.

"With temperatures falling to the low teens at night this week -- and up to minus four or five degrees during the day -- it's still good for making ice as long as we don't get too much snow," she said, adding that a layer of heavy snow on a frozen lake or river can insulate the ice below and slow down freezing

Local ice-hut operators have accurate advice for ice conditions, Maglietta said.

Villani has local anglers in his bait and tackle shop -- which also has a bed and breakfast operation for 12 people -- as well as customers from the Milton and Hamilton area, and Michigan.

"Their perch are smaller," he said, of his American visitors. "They like ours. They're bigger."

Any anglers not relying on an ice-hut operator for a hut are reminded that registration is required to identify the owner of an ice hut in the event of a littering problem or if the ice hut is not removed from the ice as required.

To register an ice hut, anglers can contact their local Ministry of Natural Resources office over the phone. There is no charge. Once registered, an ice hut can be used anywhere in Ontario.