Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority (LSRCA) has developed a draft Natural Heritage System and Restoration Strategy for the Lake Simcoe watershed that reviews and updates the previous Natural Heritage System plan (2007).
LSRCA is recommending “an interconnected natural heritage system that supports a safe and healthy watershed for all its inhabitants.” It includes wetlands, woodlands, watercourses etc. and identifies targeted areas with restoration potential that would enhance the system, through linkages and corridors, and other areas that can be protected, such as grasslands. The plan reinforces how natural areas and features with strong ecological ties to each other contribute to the overall landscape. Implementation will be achieved through a series of actions led by LSRCA, and shared and supported by its watershed partners and the extended community. The following is our response to their request for input.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the Lake Simcoe Natural Heritage System and Restoration Strategy. We hope that, as the process evolves, there will continue to be ample opportunity for public consultation.
We have the following concerns:
- Is there a system or safeguard in place to ensure that if a developer “walks away” from a project, commitments to protect the environment are upheld, and taxpayers are not left with paying the costs?
- How can we ensure that the offsetting plan considers long term impacts, rather than just the immediate effect on the natural heritage features and, further, ensure sufficient funding is available to do this?
- If there is a cash-in-lieu settlement, this needs to be open, transparent and fully available to the public.
We have the following recommendations:
- That an independent third party be responsible for monitoring the success of the offsetting plan
- That the public be fully involved and aware of the development and monitoring of the plan for all projects
Thank you for allowing us to comment.
Deborah McGrath, President