Notes for Remarks by
The Honourable Jim Prentice, P.C., Q.C., M.P.
Minister of the Environment
Cleaning up Lake Simcoe
February 27, 2009
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Good morning. It is great to be here in Barrie today.
With such a magnificent view of Lake Simcoe, I cannot think of a more appropriate setting for our announcement this morning.
Even in the winter, when this lake is frozen, it is easy to see why the Huron called Lake Simcoe “Beautiful Water” more than 400 years ago.
Canadians have been drawn here for generations. Through the summer months, this lake is filled with pleasure crafts.
In the winter, Lake Simcoe ranks as one of the world’s largest freshwater lakes to freeze over completely, making it a real ice fisher’s paradise. Its frozen surface is covered with ice huts and the season is jam-packed with ice fishing derbies. It is no wonder the lake has been referred to as Canada’s ice fishing capital.
Yet beneath its glistening surface, the health and quality of these waters have been struggling.
Large amounts of phosphorus have damaged the health and vitality of the lake, stimulating excess plant growth and leaving inadequate oxygen levels for the fish of this lake.
Left unchecked, the future of this lake would be questionable to say the least, and that is not an option for any of us here.
Lake Simcoe is more than a tourist destination or a cottager’s paradise. Its value goes far beyond the $200 million a year it infuses into the community through tourism and recreational activities.
Lake Simcoe is a key part of Canada’s natural environment.
It is an environmental treasure, and all of us here share a tremendous responsibility to ensure that this lake is properly taken care of and protected.
This Government recognizes the value of our rivers, our oceans, and lakes, like lake Simcoe, and we are taking action to deliver results to Canadians.
Our first Speech from the Throne in September 2007 announced an Action Plan on Clean Water to clean up our major lakes and oceans and to improve access to safe drinking water for First Nations. This plan initially invested $61.5 million over five years to improve the health of our waters.
The Action Plan includes projects like the Health of the Oceans initiative to protect Canada’s three oceans. It includes the cleanup of Randle Reef in Hamilton Harbour, action to address pollution in Lake Winnipeg, and certainly a commitment to clean up these beautiful waters before us.
We recognized the environmental challenges facing Lake Simcoe and took action by creating the Lake Simcoe Clean-Up fund that gave us the tools we needed to address these challenges.
This $12 million fund, created a year and a half ago, supports priority projects involving community organizations, land owners, aboriginal communities, non-government environmental groups, the federal, provincial and municipal governments, and the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation authority.
Last year, we more than doubled this fund’s potential by investing another $18 million into the fund, bringing the Lake Simcoe Clean-Up fund up to $30 million over five years.
Twice a year, Environment Canada solicits proposals for clean-up projects, and PROPEL, the public advisory committee, recommends which projects should go ahead.
Last summer, 36 projects were approved in the first round of the Lake Simcoe Clean-Up Fund, and solid progress is already being made on these projects.
Today, we are all here to continue that good work.
We are moving forward with funding for the second round of projects under the Lake Simcoe Clean-Up Fund.
26 new projects will receive a total of $4.73 million from the $30 million fund already announced.
There are projects addressing issues in the lake, on the shoreline, and throughout the watershed.
For example, the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters’ community streams program will collaborate with Lake Simcoe Stakeholders. Aiming to keep phosphorous and other harmful substances out of the watershed, they will determine priority streams to target for erosion control and other stewardship measures to be implemented with landowners.
Manure is also a source of phosphorous contamination so, at several sites, improvements will be made to manure storage and management.
The Dufferin South Simcoe Land Stewardship Network stewardship program will work with rural, shoreline, and urban landowners to evaluate and address their land and property management activities that may contribute to increased phosphorus and contaminants in the Lake Simcoe watershed.
Trent University will be assisting in managing the watershed with improved phosphorous models and phosphorus export information.
As well, the Lake Simcoe Conservation Authority will undertake a number of projects, including an Engineered Wetland-Phosphex integration program at the Centre for Advanced Wastewater Treatment. This program will be testing an advanced engineered wetlands process to remove phosphorous and other harmful substances from streams.
These projects will help restore the health of the lake by reducing excessive amounts of phosphorous, restoring the cold water fishery, and improving information for decision-makers. They will help us to ensure a healthy future for Lake Simcoe. That is why it is so exciting to be here to announce $4.73 million to fund these projects.
The projects we are announcing today demonstrate the Government of Canada’s commitment to work cooperatively with those who live and work around Lake Simcoe, to meet our common goals. They reaffirm this Government’s commitment to ensuring clean water not only around Lake Simcoe, but across this great country.
I am proud to be a part of our efforts today as we work for the benefit of not only Canadians who work, live, or seek their recreation around Lake Simcoe, but also for the benefit of future generations who have yet to experience and appreciate the incredible value of this magnificent lake.
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