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Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority

Skip Navigation LinksLake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority > Offsetting and Enforcement

A tree in the forest.Positive Enforcement 

Each year our enforcement team spends hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars investigating unlawful activities on the land. Our goal is always to find a mutually agreeable solution, but sometimes legal action is our only recourse. 

In 2019, we investigated a total of 145 complaints, issued 77 violation notices and 20 summonses. We were also successful in getting 9 convictions. 

For comparison, in 2018, we investigated 201 complaints, issued 162 violation notices and 23 summonses. We were successful in getting 28 convictions. 

While we provide numbers related to our enforcement activities for the past two years, we acknowledge that it’s not always easy to compare year over year, particularly with regard to convictions. Often times, cases that we are involved in take place over the course of more than one year.​

TreeSeedling.jpgEnforcement Case Study: It’s Always Better to Work with Nature, than Against It 

If you live near the shore, a clearing where you can sit and enjoy that beautiful view is usually a “must-have”. The problem is, Mother Nature might have other plans. A shoreline doesn’t want to be tamed, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a solution. 

Last fall our enforcement team visited a waterfront site that had been “renovated” to suit the owner’s vision – large amounts of soil were moved, an armour stone wall was installed as well as a meandering path down to that “perfect lakeside spot”. Fast forward just a few months; winter’s forceful tides made a mess of the retaining wall, ripped up the landscaping and wreaked havoc on the once-serene spot. 

We’ve seen this before! Our message? Shorelines are meant to be natural. This type of work is not permitted, in part, because it won’t stand the test of Mother Nature, putting all that effort and investment at risk. 

So back to square one. This time the owner sought out our knowledge, expertise and the required permit. We excel at finding tailored win-win solutions – after all, we’re nature lovers too! The newly drafted waterfront plan got implemented with the same meandering path, but this time with smaller native shrubs and grasses to keep those vistas, and plants that attract turtles, birds and butterflies even closer. Water access was not restricted outright, just planned for with nature in mind, designed to withstand whatever erratic conditions might occur. The family’s waterfront is now stable, safe, and stunning. 

When it comes to your home, there’s nothing more beautiful than knowing your “must-have” spot meets everybody’s needs and will stand the test of time.​

Offsetting Successes 

As of January 1, 2019, when our Water Balance Offsetting Policy took effect, we have numerous policies in place to minimize environmental impacts from development, including: 

  • Water Balance Offsetting
  • Phosphorus Offsetting
  • Ecological Offsetting 

With each policy, our goal is to minimize the impact to the environment. In some development situations, where environmental impacts cannot be avoided, the developer can contribute to an offsetting fund to support work we would then undertake to offset the environmental consequences. This is always a last recourse. Developers are encouraged to implement restorative measures on their own and many have embraced our new policies to help reduce their impact on the landscape.

An example is Ballymore Homes, the developers overseeing the Ainslie Hill residential subdivision in Sutton, located in the Town of Georgina. 

The developer and their team proposed a combination of woodland, meadow and wetland restoration in their offsetting/restoration plan, despite only being required to offset for woodland removal. As wetland areas are more difficult to recreate on the landscape, we think it’s worthy to recognize this developer is exceeding requirements of our Ecological Offsetting Policy by creating a variety of habitat types and achieving a net ecological benefit.