Five incumbent mayors in and around Lake Simcoe believe their municipalities should work with the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority (LSRCA) and the province to develop and implement a plan to reduce Lake Simcoe’s phosphorus loadings to 44 tonnes per year by 2026.
This phosphorus reduction would improve water quality in the lake, help prevent algae blooms and weed growth while keeping fisheries healthy, said a news release from the group.
The five incumbent mayors who have endorsed this target are: Jeff Lehman (Barrie), Rob Keffer (Bradford-West Gwillimbury), Margaret Quirk (Georgina), Harry Hughes (Oro-Medonte) and Pat Molloy (Uxbridge).
Only seven of the 20 candidates running for office in Orillia responded to the questionnaire.
Incumbent Mayor Steve Clarke declined to participate in the survey. His challenger, Gord Launchbury, endorsed the targets.
In all, 123 municipal election candidates in the Lake Simcoe watershed’s 17 municipalities endorsed the group's call to reduce phosphorus loadings.
Lake Simcoe Watch sent the questionnaire to all local candidates in the upcoming municipal election, asking questions about phosphorus loadings, the watershed, public processes and development charges.
There were four questions asked of all candidates:
1. Should municipalities in the Lake Simcoe watershed work with the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority and the Government of Ontario to develop and implement a plan to reduce Lake Simcoe’s phosphorus loadings to 44 tonnes per year by 2026?
2. Should municipalities in the Lake Simcoe watershed work with the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority and the Government of Ontario to develop and implement a plan to ensure that by 2026, at least 40% of Lake Simcoe’s watershed consists of high quality connected forests, wetlands and meadows?
3. Should the LSRCA establish a process for receiving and reviewing submissions from the public with respect to all Section 28 permit applications pertaining to Lake Simcoe’s wetlands, floodplains and shorelines?
4. Should the Development Charges Act amended to allow municipalities to recover 100% of their additional infrastructure costs to service new residential and commercial projects from their developers?
Launchbury said yes to each question as did Ward 2 candidate Tshweu Moleme and Ward 3 candidates Jay Fallis and Jodie Wilson
Ward 1 Coun. Ted Emond said yes to each of the first three questions, though he added a caveat to his reply to the first question. He said 'work with does not mean the same as being a member of" the LSRCA. Orillia withdrew from the LSRCA several years ago.
Emond said no to the fourth question, noting the "current system requires a review at a minimum every five years. Development charges (DCs) are just an indirect tax on residential and commercial property buyers. As a pragmatist, I can foresee situations where reduced or in some cases no DCs (e.g., industrial DCs) may be a legitimate municipal strategy. Moving toward legislated 100% recover would not be aligned with my thinking."
Ward 4 candidates Peter Hislop and Stephanie Kenny both had a mix of yeses and maybes.
To read all the candidates’ complete responses, click here.
For background information on the questions asked, click here.
The questionnaire was sent out to the candidates in all of the Lake Simcoe Watershed’s 17 municipalities. To see other responses, click here.
- With files from Jessica Owen