The Lake Simcoe Watch environmental group is watching, listening and taking notes during the federal election campaign to hold candidates to their word.
Last week, Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer unveiled his climate plan heading into this fall's federal election, with Barrie-Innisfil MP John Brassard reiterating support for maintaining and improving Lake Simcoe.
Scheer recently released A Real Plan, the Conservative Party's platform for environmental issues, which also made note of restoring the Lake Simcoe Cleanup Fund.
Brassard says Scheer recognizes "the importance of Lake Simcoe to our area” and knows how important the lake is to those who enjoy it, including people who work and live near its shores, as well as others who are a part of the $200-million local tourism sector.
“Everyone I’ve spoken to who has interest in the lake, which is in some way or another just about everyone who lives here, has told me we need to restore the funding," Brassard said a release. "I’m glad we can make the commitment to do that in advance of this October’s federal election."
Jack Gibbons, from Lake Simcoe Watch, told BarrieToday that he was unaware of any federal commitment to clean up Lake Simcoe, but hopes all levels of government will help the organization reach some of its key targets.
“I’m not aware of any concrete policies that Andrew Scheer has to save Lake Simcoe, or any from any federal leaders for that matter,” Gibbons said.
“I do know that we’re asking for at least 40 per cent of Lake Simcoe’s watershed to consist of high-quality connected forests, wetlands and meadows," he added. "That is crucial to future growth and preservation of the lake.”
One of the main concerns for Gibbons, and Lake Simcoe Watch members, has long been phosphorus levels in the lake, which needs to be reduced to 44 tonnes per year by 2026.
“This will greatly impact the entire lake in a very big way,” he said. “Not only does it help some of our more prominent inhabitants, like lake trout and whitefish, but will significantly reduce algae blooms and other noxious plant growth.
"No government has helped in this and it is an absolute need for the life of the lake," Gibbons added.
Brassard says $60 million was invested by the previous Conservative government and there were more than 100 projects approved and supported.
The Barrie-Innisfil MP also says scientists found evidence the investments and projects were working, and that water quality in Lake Simcoe had improved, with native fish species breeding in the watershed, some that haven’t done so in years.
Gibbons told BarrieToday he had not seen any of these scientific reports, but wanted current governments to not be concerned with past accomplishments, but rather what they can do right now.
“We don’t need to hear about four years ago or 10 years ago. We really need action today, right now,” he said. “It's an election year. We’ll be recording everything they say and, believe me, we will hold them accountable when the need arises.”