Part 5 of our series Who Will Save Lake Simcoe? Read the full report here.
Thanks to the Lake Simcoe Protection Act (2008) and Plan (2009) the Lake Simcoe watershed is subject to some of Ontario’s strongest environmental policies, meant to protect its water for all its inhabitants, human and non, and the sensitive cold-water fishery, an economic driver in the area. All of the province’s 2018 – 2022 communications about Lake Simcoe have been rather rosy.  This is not unique to this government, but it is greenwashing, and it worries us.
Lake Simcoe Protection Plan review
The Lake Simcoe Protection Act requires the Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks to review the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan every ten years to determine if its targets are being met, and whether its policies need to change.
Although it should have started in 2019, the province launched the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan review in late December 2020 and had finished consultation by mid-2021.  Despite the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan review being complete, the province has been silent on the results of the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan review for more than a year while it “sits on the Minister’s desk” for a decision.
Why not release its findings? We worry it is because the province plans to weaken protection in favour of development. In effect, by being silent on the coordination of sewage treatment plant allocations that would flow from the watershed’s population explosion outlined in A Place to Grow, 2020, that is what the province is already doing.
The Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition has been sounding the alarm about the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan’s 40% “High Quality Natural Cover” target, which is a target without any implementation policies.
In addition to years of letters, research, mapping, reporting, policy analysis and briefs,  the we suggested that the province could use the Municipal Comprehensive Review’s provincial Natural Heritage System mapping process to bring us closer to this target.  They said, no thanks, and cc’d the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing on their reply to the Coalition.
 Ontario, 2022. Connecting the GGH: A Transportation Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. https://www.ontario.ca/page/connecting-ggh-transportation-plan-greater-golden-horseshoe
 Ontario. Protecting Lake Simcoe. https://www.ontario.ca/page/protecting-lake-simcoe#section-5
 Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition. Reports & resources page. https://rescuelakesimcoe.org/resources/
 Malcolmson, Claire. December 10, 2021. Letter to Minister Piccini, Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks. https://rescuelakesimcoe.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/letter-to-Province-re-P-reduction-and-NHS-w-SC-Submission-attached.pdf