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Phosphorus recycling facility 'of paramount importance' to Orillia: councillor

City council endorses request to upper levels of government to move Holland Marsh project forward
2020-01-04 Lake Simcoe
A satellite view of Lake Simcoe. Photo courtesy the Province of Ontario

The city is adding its name to a list of municipalities calling for a Holland Marsh phosphorus recycling facility.

Bradford West Gwillimbury Coun. Jonathan Scott and Georgina Coun. Dave Neeson got the ball rolling by putting forward motions calling for the $40-million project — being proposed by York Region — to move forward.

A number of municipalities have expressed their support, including East Gwillimbury.

The town wrote a letter that states the facility will “reduce phosphorus runoff into the Holland River and Lake Simcoe by up to 40 per cent and thereby protect the lake’s watershed from algae growth, resulting in better protection for the region’s aquatic habitats, increased ecosystem biodiversity and protection of drinking water sources.”

The feds have already announced $16 million toward the project, while York has committed $25 million.

Coun. Pat Hehn brought the matter up at Monday’s Orillia city council meeting.

“For a number of years, there’s been an idea to try and filter out this excess phosphorus from the Holland Marsh water land,” she explained.

Farmers in that area have done a good job at reducing runoff, she said, but the topography of the land means plenty of phosphorus still flows into the Holland Marsh basin.

“I believe that we should join our other partner municipalities bordering on Lake Simcoe in endorsing this resolution,” Hehn said.

“Lake Simcoe flows into Lake Couchiching and, of course, we get our drinking water from Lake Couchiching. So, obviously, the health of Lake Simcoe is of paramount importance to our community.”

Coun. Jay Fallis agreed.

“Although it’s not right next to Orillia or in the immediate vicinity, it does have a big impact on us. This watershed is part of our own,” he said.

“It’s an easy ask to say that we need to be focused on protecting our environment.”

Council voted to support the resolution in the East Gwillimbury letter. A letter from the city stating as much will be sent to upper levels of government.