York Region is calling on the province to give the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority the power to oversee implementation of the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan.
That was one of eight key recommendations York Region has put forward to the Ontario government in its engagement process to determine whether the plan needs to be updated or amended. The recommendations put forward by the region were received for information by councillors during their committee of the whole meeting on Thursday.
“The Lake Simcoe Protection Plan has been a necessary tool to improve the health of the watershed but results to date have not met expectations,” noted Erin Mahoney, commissioner of environmental services with the region, in her memo to council.
“While phosphorus levels have decreased over the last 10 years, one of the most significant barriers to achieving the goals of the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan is the continued focus on point sources like wastewater treatment facilities,” she said.
Mahoney wrote that the phosphorus reduction strategy was introduced in 2010 to help achieve these goals. The strategy included a focus on wastewater treatment facilities, cutting regulated phosphorus outputs from these plants in half and reducing their loading by more than one tonne since 2009.
“However, wastewater treatment facilities only account for two per cent of the total annual phosphorus loading to the lake. Non-point sources like agriculture and urban stormwater represent the vast majority of phosphorus inputs to Lake Simcoe,” she wrote.
“For the plan to succeed, it’s vital to shift future actions to tangible, time bound and resourced work to reduce these non-point sources,” Mahoney said.
According to correspondence sent to the province by York Region in February and considered during their committee of the whole meeting this week, staff made eight key recommendations to the province to consider when updating the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan:
Since launching a 75-day public review of the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan in December, the province has been engaging with local partners and residents to determine if the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan needs to be amended or updated. During the public review period, the province held two virtual events: a town hall on Feb. 11 and a science event on Jan. 28.
Based on the engagement and the findings from the review, the minister of the environment, conservation and parks will consider making amendments to the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan by the summer of 2021.