By Wendy Francis

Urban sprawl continues to encroach on Simcoe County, which lies just outside the northern boundary of the Golden Horseshoe Greenbelt. The county is the scene of an unprecedented land speculation rush that has led to numerous urban expansion applications, now the subject of appeals to the Ontario Municipal Board. Residents and local politicians are becoming increasingly concerned about Lake Simcoe’s capacity to assimilate such growth without lake water quality being impaired further.

Many demands are made on Lake Simcoe, which include swimming, boating, fishing and other recreational activities. Approximately 350,000 permanent residents live by its shoreline, along with thousands of cottagers and campers during the summer. In recent years, the water quality in Lake Simcoe has deteriorated, the fishing is poor and weeds in the lake and along the shoreline are increasing. These symptoms are caused primarily by increased nutrients, especially phosphorus, entering the lake as a result of agricultural practices and development activities.

Tory MPP Garfield Dunlop has taken a strong position with respect to sprawl and its impacts. This spring, he introduced the Lake Simcoe Protection Act into the legislature. The proposed legislation will create a comprehensive protection program for the Lake Simcoe and Nottawasaga River watersheds and natural heritage systems. As a member of Campaign Lake Simcoe, Ontario Nature expects that all political parties will support this legislation when it comes to a vote this fall.

More information on the bill and how you can help is available on the Campaign Lake Simcoe website, www.environmentaldefence.ca/campaignLakeSimcoe/home.php.