Local projects will help restore and protect Lake Simcoe for future generations

ORILLIA — The Ontario government is investing over $289,000 in three projects that are engaging local youth and community members in environmental stewardship activities like workshops, field trips and other educational opportunities focused on restoring the Lake Simcoe watershed.

“As a mother and someone who has lived in the Barrie area for many years, I am grateful to have a partner like the Orillia Museum of Art and History to help inspire the next generation and encourage them to take a more active role in the health of Lake Simcoe,” said Andrea Khanjin, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. “Together with our community partners, we are making important progress on actions to keep the lake and its watershed clean and healthy not only for residents today, but for future generations.”

Through these projects, students and residents in the Lake Simcoe watershed are learning how to design rain gardens, pollinator gardens and use native plants to reduce erosion and restore shorelines. Following the success of its first plant giveaway, this spring the museum will provide participants with native species of trees, shrubs, flowers and grasses to grow at school, home and in community gardens.

Having been so involved with our local students in the past, the Orillia Museum of Art and History (OMAH) is an ideal partner for these projects, and I commend them for their dedication,” said Jill Dunlop, MPP for Simcoe North. “Through today’s announcement, this partnership will continue to empower local youth and engage community members in meaningful projects aimed at restoring and preserving our precious watershed. This investment not only enriches our environment but also fosters a sense of collective responsibility and pride in safeguarding our natural resources now and for the future.”

Over the past year and a half, the museum has hosted 10 workshops at Regent Park Public School in Orillia and two field trips to local gardens and parks to educate students and community members about how they can protect and restore shorelines around Lake Simcoe.

“It was my pleasure to develop a STEAM-based program with Parklane Landscapes, an Orillia-based design and build landscape company specializing in sustainable practices,” said Tanya Cunnington, Arts Programming Coordinator, Orillia Museum of Art & History. “Our program promoted the value of youth environmental stewardship in the Lake Simcoe watershed. Through hands-on art projects such as, drawing and clay sculpting, we were able to will provide the students with an opportunity to learn about native plant species, garden design, ecological protection, stormwater management, habitat restoration and climate resiliency.”

Funding for these projects is part of the over $37 million the government – including the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, and Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs – has invested since 2018 to improve the health of Lake Simcoe and its watershed under the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan. This investment includes the $24 million announced in the 2024 Ontario Budget for the innovative phosphorus reduction project to help reduce phosphorus discharges from the Holland River into Lake Simcoe.

Quick Facts

· Lake Simcoe is the largest inland lake in southern Ontario, more than twice the size of the City of Hamilton. It is also one of the most important and heavily fished inland lakes in the province.

· Some of the signs of recovery in the Lake Simcoe watershed include:

o a 50 per cent reduction in phosphorous from sewage treatment plants entering the watershed

o reduced algae in the lake, leading to improved water quality

o recent instances of successful natural reproduction of cold-water fish species like Lake Whitefish, Burbot and Cisco


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