Our Vision

To be an inspiring umbrella group that provides leadership and motivates people to take action to protect Lake Simcoe.

Mission Statement

Save Lake Simcoe and protect its future.

Goals

1. To reduce the annual phosphorus loading to the lake to 44 tonnes by the year 2045.
2. To increase environmental awareness and concern in the Lake Simcoe watershed.
3. To increase public participation in activities that promote the health of the watershed.
4. To encourage land use planning decisions and building techniques that will protect forests, wetlands, working farms, and Lake Simcoe.

Our Story

The RLSC was formed through the coming together of founding groups in 2003. The founding Directors saw that if Lake Simcoe’s health were to improve, empowered and informed people would need to be part of the answer.

Education and empowerment of local groups is the way we make a difference. We focus on promoting dialogue between citizens and their governments around the lake. By sharing information and opportunities for collaboration and action, we learn what is relevant, and work together towards important goals.

Our focus today 

 

Protect Our Plan (POP!)

The Province of Ontario is more than three years behind on the review of the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan. Consultations are finished, but where’s the beef? Instead of releasing any plans for the LSPP, the province is forcing growth on the watershed that will move us away from reaching the ecological targets of the LSPP. We want to hold the line in the Review, and make sure the Plan is strengthened, not weakened. We have submitted countless letters, organizational sign-ons, and some petitions to the province on this topic. Part of this work included researching and communicating solutions to decision-makers on the extent to which natural features are protected by policy in the watershed. Learn more here.

Stop Sprawl Campaigns

We are working on the ground in York and Durham Regions and Simcoe County on their Municipal Comprehensive Reviews (growth planning). The province has ordered growth that would DOUBLE the watershed’s population by 2051. We don’t think the lake can handle that, so we have been focused on these Regional Official Plan updates, where decisions are made about where exactly to put the growth.

After a year of working on Simcoe, Durham and York, we decided to focus our efforts where no organized campaign existed and created Stop Sprawl York Region. Meeting biweekly to build community around sustainability and sense in planning York Region, we have certainly brought much-needed scrutiny to York Region Council. One of our main concerns is the use of the Bradford Bypass to justify sprawl, particularly in East Gwillimbury, where the former Chair of the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority is overseeing the biggest sprawl agenda we have seen in Southern Ontario. Join us at on Facebook and Twitter.

Stop the Bradford Bypass 

We educated Councils about the Bradford Bypass, highlighting the misinformation stemming from the province, and we revealed what the province was in fact planning: to exempt themselves from completing the Environmental Assessment of the Bradford Bypass, which was approved with conditions in 2002. The province changed the law to allow the building of “early works” AKA an overpass just north of Bradford, which would connect to a new highway between the 400 and the 404. The plan is to start building this bridge in late 2022, before a budget, engineered drawings, or archaeological assessments are complete. The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans will be asked to issue permits to destroy fish habitat for this project. But significantly, these have not been sought for the project. In effect, the province has decided where the new highway will go, regardless of any of the outcomes of studies still not complete. If you think this is the wrong approach, you are in good company. 

We delegated to watershed Councils and got eight municipal resolutions requesting either a Federal Impact Assessment of the Bradford Bypass, an assessment of the highways’ impact on Lake Simcoe’s health, or the completion of further studies not planned by the province’s “streamlined” approach to highway building.

With community partners, we asked for a Federal Impact Assessment once in 2021, and were turned down. Friends requested a second time in 2022 and were turned down again. So we joined six environmental and community organizations, and together with EcoJustice we filed a lawsuit in Federal Court against the federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Steven Guilbeault. The lawsuit challenges the Minister’s failure to designate the Bradford Bypass highway project for a federal impact assessment. (Read the press release)  

Education to Action 

Our education and outreach always focus on connecting people to each other, to place, and history, and to making tangible improvements for the lake. In 2020 we launched an education program that engages and involves youth and families via curriculum-linked educational resources for teachers and students which focuses on local knowledge, ecological literacy, and action. This was piloted by a group of Innisfil teachers and we are planning to expand the program in 2022 / 23. 

We also host webinars and attend groups’ meetings as subject area experts, or for broad Lake Simcoe health and activism updates. Feel free to ask for a session by emailing rescuelakesimcoecoalition@gmail.com You can view our webinars on our YouTube channel.

Accomplishments 

Municipal advocacy and engagement for Lake Simcoe 

Following 15 years of effective advocacy, collaboration and policy work with the province of Ontario, and the successful passage of the Lake Simcoe Protection Act (2008) and Plan (2009), the Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition had to change gears with the change in government in 2018. We recognized that the current government was not interested in hearing from experts and critics on the Lake Simcoe Coordinating Committee, a forum our members were formerly instrumental in. 

So in 2019 we shifted our focus to municipal government engagement, with great success:


Protect Our Plan

Six municipal resolutions calling on the Ontario Government to demonstrate its commitment to clean water and protecting what matters most in the provincial statutory review of the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan, by ensuring that provisions in the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan that protect water quality are not weakened and that policies protecting natural heritage be strengthened, in order to meet the targets of the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan. Learn more here.

Phosphorus Reclamation Plant 

Full municipal support via resolutions requesting that the province pay the balance of the tab for the planned phosphorus reclamation plant on the Holland River. This is a project we have been advocating for the province to build since 2018. The Federal government announced $16 million to build the plant in late 2020. Soon after, we reminded the province of our request and started working with supportive Councillors Dave Neeson and Johnathan Scott, who got all Lake Simcoe municipalities to endorse the request to the province. In April 2022 the province announced their contribution of $24 million to complete the project, which is anticipated to remove 2.5 tonnes of phosphorus from the water flowing into the lake every year. (For context the objective is to bring P loads down by at least 44 tonnes per year. But this is helpful nonetheless.)

Stop the Bradford Bypass

We educated Councils about the Bradford Bypass, highlighting the misinformation stemming from the province, and we revealed what the province was in fact planning: to exempt themselves from completing the Environmental Assessment of the Bradford Bypass, which was approved with conditions in 2002. The province changed the law to allow the building of “early works” AKA an overpass just north of Bradford, which would connect to a new highway between the 400 and the 404. The plan is to start building this bridge in late 2022, before a budget, engineered drawings, or archaeological assessments are complete. The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans will be asked to issue permits to destroy fish habitat for this project. But significantly, these have not been sought for the project. In effect, the province has decided where the new highway will go, regardless of any of the outcomes of studies still not complete.

If you think this is the wrong approach, you are in good company. Eight municipal resolutions requested either a Federal Impact Assessment of the Bradford Bypass, an assessment of the highways’ impact on Lake Simcoe’s health, or the completion of further studies not planned by the province’s “streamlined” approach to highway building. 

We asked for a Federal Impact Assessment once in 2021, and were turned down. Friends requested a second time in 2022 and were turned down again. So we joined six environmental and community organizations, and together with EcoJustice we filed a lawsuit in Federal Court against the federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Steven Guilbeault. The lawsuit challenges the Minister’s failure to designate the Bradford Bypass highway project for a federal impact assessment. (Read the press release)  

Lake Simcoe Greenlands Project

We want the land surrounding the lake to be as healthy as possible. To that end, we seek solutions to achieving the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan’s target of 40% “high quality natural cover” (forests and wetlands) in the watershed. We created environmental policy maps for Simcoe County and the Lake Simcoe watershed which show that while we have a good amount of greenspace now, not enough has the policy protections in place that guarantee that it will be part of the natural heritage system in the future. We promote solutions to increasing greenlands protections; we ran a community mapping event in Innisfil and developed a report about incorporating First Nations Traditional Ecological Knowledge in municipal planning. We continue to make recommendations for municipal Official Plan policies in municipalities such as Innisfil, where we got a win, and Oro-Medonte where Council was not so receptive to our requests. 

More information including maps and reports.

Lake Simcoe Protection Act and Plan

Under the banner of Campaign Lake Simcoe, we spearheaded the campaign for the creation of the Lake Simcoe Protection Act (2008) and Plan (2009) with our many partners. The Act and Plan are Canada’s strongest watershed-based environmental legislation. 

Campaign Fairness

We analyzed and communicated corporate funding of municipal election campaigns in the Lake Simcoe watershed, and explained the relationship between corporate contributions and development in the watershed. The Province of Ontario banned corporate and union funding of municipal election campaigns in 2016.

Lake Simcoe Greenlands Project, 2014

See above current activity. We won an LSRCA education award for this project.

Ladies of the Lake

We were an incubator for the lovable Ladies of the Lake (LoL) when the group of more than 100 women took action for the lake with their first “cheeky but not cheesy” calendar in 2006 to support The WAVE. LoL has since merged with the Ontario Water Centre. 


The WAVE – Healthy Yards Healthy Waters 

A team of “WAVE patrollers” taught environmentally friendly lawn care to 5,500 families over two years and educated people about what threatens Lake Simcoe. The WAVE was carried forward by the Ladies of the Lake in 2006. 

Member groups

AWARE Simcoe
Barilla Park Residents Association
Bayshore Village Association

Canadian Freshwater Alliance
Carden Field Naturalists
Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation
Concerned Citizens of King Township
Concerned Citizens of Ramara
Couchiching Conservancy
Crescent Harbour Association
DeGrassi Cove Association
Eight Mile Point Cottagers Association
Friends of Strawberry Island
Innisfil District Association (IDA)
Innisfree Ltd. DeGrassi Point
Lake Simcoe Association
Nature Barrie
North Gwillimbury Forest Alliance
North Mara Beach Residents Association
Ontario Headwaters Institute
Ontario Water Centre
Orillia Naturalists Club
Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition
South Lake Simcoe Naturalists
SOS Beaverton
Snake Island Cottagers Association
Windfall Ecology Centre
York Simcoe Nature Club
Yonge Street Monthly Meeting (Quakers)

Contact us to join this list.

Who are we?

Claire Malcolmson, Executive Director

Board Members
Maurice Sandford
Linda Wells
Jennie Ucar
Johanna Powell
Mike Vos
Matt Lund
Susan Sheard

Contact

647-267-7572
rescuelakesimcoecoalition@gmail.com
http://www.rescuelakesimcoe.org

Mailing Address
The Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition
c/o Janis Macaskill
120 Primeau Drive
Aurora, Ontario
L4G 6Z4

 

We are grateful to our funders:

The Metcalf Foundation and Lush Handmade Cosmetics

 

And concerned citizens like you.

 

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