Policy review: We determined the status of protection of forests and wetlands in the Lake Simcoe watershed, targeting municipalities at most risk, or where Official Plan review opportunities are near. We did this through two mapping exercises, one at the watershed level, and one for the Township of Oro-Medonte, in the northwest.
Mapping: We started at the watershed level with the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority’s Natural Heritage System for the Lake Simcoe Watershed, Phase 1: Components and Policies (2007). They mapped lands according to ecological land classification, and created a proposed Natural Heritage System, which totals almost 40% of the watershed. But their map doesn’t tell us how much of those lands are protected. We simplified their data and produced our own map, Lake Simcoe Area Greenlands, and determined that just 26.4% of the watershed is what we consider well protected. We can add to our map as we learn more about protection status throughout the watershed.
Next we mapped the Lake Simcoe Greenlands: Lake Simcoe Watershed Within Oro-Medonte, and showed what is and what will be further protected thanks to the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan. Then we held two educational community mapping sessions in which 50 people contributed 80 comments and pinpointed their favourite spots, trails, areas of concerns and suggestions. All of this was mapped and presented to Oro-Medonte Council in June, 2014, by the Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition, along with recommendations for the Oro-Medonte Official Plan update written with AWARE Oro-Medonte.
Empowering communities: We know from experience that being on an environmental committee with inadequate information or tools is a frustrating experience. So we created Greenlands Preservation in the Lake Simcoe Watershed: A Citizens’ Guide To Public Policy For The Protection and Enhancement of Lake Simcoe’s Natural Heritage to help people understand and make recommendations in their municipality’s public planning processes, like Official Plan reviews.
Under the Lake Simcoe Protection Act municipalities are required to make certain changes to their policies, but there are also many things municipalities may, but are not required to, do. Local people need to encourage their municipalities to do the voluntary actions as well, if Lake Simcoe is to be saved.
Next Steps: We are keen to present our work to community groups interested in protecting greenlands in their Lake Simcoe watershed municipality. We have collected loads of valuable information like maps, definitions and recommendations which we're happy to share to help other groups undertake this project in their municipality.
In Oro-Medonte we will comment on the Official Plan when it is released, with our community partners and using expert advice. We will also participate in any public consultation events organized by the municipality, and we will continue to share educational information and opportunities to get involved, with our contact list.
For more information, to arrange a presentation, or to discuss please contact us