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Groups call for action to save 'hidden gem in north Orillia'

If remedial action isn’t taken soon, Sundial Creek, an important ecosystem, will potentially choke on itself, contributing to the deterioration of Lake Couchiching

The Couchiching Conservancy in partnership with Sustainable Orillia launched a campaign today to raise awareness of what they call “a hidden gem in north Orillia”: Sundial Creek.

Residents in the Grant Wetland area, where the creek flows, are being asked to help protect this rare cold water stream and secure a healthy waterway for the future.

Sundial Creek is fed by groundwater springs flowing down the Fittons Road hill and supports rare urban wildlife such as Brook Trout. As it flows through neighbouring wetlands and ponds en route to Lake Couchiching, it also picks up sand and pollutants accumulated from winter road treatments, fertilizers and other human activities.

If remedial action isn’t taken soon, say Sundial Creek defenders, this important ecosystem will potentially choke on itself, contributing to the deterioration of Lake Couchiching – one of Orillia’s most prized natural features and a source of our drinking water.

“Many people think of Sundial Creek as a ditch that simply carries away stormwater, but it is much more than that,” says Dorthea Hangaard of The Couchiching Conservancy. “It is the last cold water stream within the city limits. There is still time to restore the creek back to health, to support aquatic life, and protect Lake Couchiching from further pollution.” 

Jane Bonsteel, a resident and volunteer in the neighbourhood, has been monitoring the creek for several years.

“Sundial Creek is being choked with silt from winter road treatments, invasive species, and unhealthy nitrogen and chloride levels,” says Bonsteel. “It will take the combined efforts of residents, the City of Orillia, and local organizations to preserve this rare and valuable resource.”

Stan Mathewson, President of Sustainable Orillia, agrees and adds, “I would like to stress that cold water streams that support wildlife in urban settings are exceedingly rare, and like many rare things they can be fragile and fleeting. It will only be through our community efforts and the support of the City that we will be able to halt further destruction of Sundial Creek, so that the entire Sundial eco-system can thrive again.”

Together, the Couchiching Conservancy and Sustainable Orillia are committed to supporting and encouraging local residents to take action. Signs are appearing in the neighbourhoods around Sundial Creek, directing people to visit the Couchiching Conservancy’s website

Once there, they will have the opportunity to watch videos about the creek, test their knowledge, and sign on to take action. Citizen actions will encourage the City of Orillia to make further improvements to the stormwater management system, and promote ecofriendly ‘river keeper’ practices that every Sundial Creek neighbour can implement.

For more information or a sign for your lawn, please visit our website.