The Ontario government is investing more than $4.25 million to further protect the Muskoka River Watershed. The funding will support projects that will help safeguard the region from environmental pressures, such as severe weather and flooding, while also improving the health of the watershed.
“The Muskoka Region is one of Ontario’s crown jewels,” said Premier Doug Ford. “We want to ensure that we continue to protect its environment, which is so important to the local economy and the great people who live there. This investment will help protect this area known around the world for its spectacular lakes and rivers so it can continue to be a thriving hub for Ontario’s tourism industry.”
The Ontario government is funding 16 projects led by the District of Muskoka and the Town of Bracebridge, as part of the province’s initial $5 million commitment to the Muskoka Watershed Conservation and Management Initiative. Approximately $750,000 will support other projects that are in development.
“We are protecting the Muskoka River Watershed while supporting the local economy and its $400-million recreational and tourism industry,” said Jeff Yurek, minister of the environment, conservation and parks. “By funding these projects and working with the local community, we are supporting this vital region in Ontario and ensuring its water resources are protected now and for future generations.”
Following careful review and consideration of the Muskoka Watershed Advisory Group’s recommendations, the government selected projects that support the development and implementation of the Muskoka Watershed Conservation and Management Initiative.
“We are thrilled the provincial government is making this financial commitment to support the development of a comprehensive approach to management of the Muskoka River Watershed,” said Mardi Witzel, chair of the Muskoka Watershed Advisory Group. “This funding will enable the research, planning, and execution of key initiatives relating to water levels, water quality and terrestrial concerns.”
“We look forward to continuing to work with the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks and with local community partners who are already doing vital work to protect the health of the watershed for the benefit of future generations,” added Witzel.
Some of these projects include:
- Developing an Integrated Watershed Management approach for the Muskoka River Watershed to help improve water quality and quantity management, including measures to help reduce the impacts of flooding.
- Mapping areas of shoreline erosion and fluctuating water levels throughout the entire Muskoka River Watershed to identify areas prone to flooding, which could inform local flood mitigation efforts.
- Developing watershed-scale health indicators that reflect environmental, economic, and social goals to support evidenced-based decision making in the Muskoka River Watershed.
- Improving understanding of erosion and sedimentation in the Muskoka River Delta in order to develop a range of options which could improve navigation for boats.
“The Muskoka River is vital for the prosperity of Bracebridge and Muskoka,” said Graydon Smith, mayor of the Town of Bracebridge. “The stretch from Bracebridge Bay to Lake Muskoka is a key transportation route bringing boaters from Lake Muskoka into the heart of our town. The collaborative approach between the Province of Ontario, the District Municipality of Muskoka, and the Town of Bracebridge will allow for more efficient and effective ways to ensure our watershed is well managed and preserved for now and the future.”
According to the Government of Ontario, additional information regarding the funding of future projects through the Muskoka Watershed Conservation and Management Initiative will be provided in the near future.