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Grey Highlands to create task force to study local lakes

Task force will bring community and stakeholder groups to look at issues affecting local lakes and possibly develop lake management plans
Lake Eugenia
Lake Eugenia.

The Municipality of Grey Highlands will create a new public task force to study lakes in the community.

At its meeting on April 17, council passed a resolution brought forward by Coun. Nadia Dubyk to create a new lake management task force to look at the possibility of lake management plans for the municipality’s four significant lakes: Lake Eugenia, Irish Lake, Wilcox Lake and Brewster’s Lake. The full text of the resolution can be found on the meeting agenda here.

Dubyk said she envisioned the task force drawing together community groups, environmental groups and other stakeholders along with the conservation authorities and government ministries to study the overall health of local lakes, water quality, how development is proceeding near lakes and how lakes are being used.

Dubyk said the goal is to ensure local lakes “are healthy and we can move forward for generations to come and ensure we can enjoy our natural assets.”

She acknowledged that her resolution was calling for big action, but said other areas had taken similar steps.

“At first blush, it feels very big and audacious. It has been done across Ontario,” she said, noting that Karwartha Lakes had done studies of its lakes and had developed management plans.

Council passed the resolution, which directs municipal staff to develop terms of reference for the task force, in a 5-2 vote. Deputy Mayor Dane Nielsen and Coun. Tom Allwood were opposed.

“My instinct is the municipality doesn’t have the resources to take this on,” said Nielsen, who suggested local conservation authorities should lead such discussions. “I’m not against the idea. I’m saying the municipality shouldn’t be the lead.”

Dubyk said her intent was to start up the task force that would “create a conduit” to bring all the local stakeholders together to start the process. She said eventually that could lead to a recommendation that the conservation authorities take the lead.

“The task force starts to lay out a road map of what they would like us to focus on,” said Dubyk. “There are a lot of fragmented conversations happening right now.”

Other members of council agreed.

Coun. Joel Loughead said he agreed that conservation authorities should be looking at the issue, but said that was unlikely considering the resources at their disposal.

“That hasn’t happened and that’s not going to happen. Conservation authorities don’t have the resources,” said Loughead. “Somebody has to take this by the reins and I firmly believe it should be us.”

Coun. Dan Wickens noted that sometimes local government must take a leadership role on big issues.

“It’s high time something is done with this,” said Wickens. “What’s the old saying? If you want something done, you do it yourself.”

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About the Author: Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Chris Fell covers The Blue Mountains and Grey Highlands under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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