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‘We keep investing’: Province gives $284,000 to Holland Marsh projects

Bank stabilization and vegetation harvesting is expected to help reduce phosphorus levels, while also providing educational opportunities for local youth.

The provincial government is pumping new funds into two projects in Holland Marsh.

York-Simcoe MP Caroline Mulroney visited the Art Janse Pumping Station in Bradford on Friday, May 3 to announce $284,500 in funding, with $172,000 for bank stabilization and rehabilitation, as well as $112,500 for vegetation harvesting – both of expected to contribute to phosphorus reduction. levels in the canal, the West Holland River and later Lake Simcoe, while providing educational opportunities for local youth.

“Our government continues to invest in the long-term health of Lake Simcoe,” Mulroney said in a news release. “These projects will benefit both Holland Marsh and the southern shores of Lake Simcoe as we continue to keep water clean and reduce phosphorus entering our watershed.”

Frank Jonkman, drainage superintendent for the marsh, was in attendance and explained the benefits of both projects.

“One of the things we’re trying to do is eliminate surface runoff and bank failures, because — especially with muddy soils — you end up with a lot of phosphorus bound to the sediment,” he said.

Once the heavy machine work to restore and restore the banks is complete, Jonkman will look to work with the youth to plant different shrubs as a way to stabilize the area.

“The intention is also to get them involved by talking to them about the projects and educating them about it,” he said.

Conceived as a pilot project, Jonkman initially targeted a two-kilometer stretch that could be used to collect data and measure impact, but the size of that area may already be set to grow.

While discussions are still ongoing about the exact location, Jonkman said some local farmers have generously offered access through their properties, which could cut costs by about 75 percent because no more work would have to be done from floating barges.

The second project aims to implement an annual harvest of some of the plants that grow underwater, taking with them the phosphorus they absorbed in the spring and summer and preventing it from being released back into the water when the plants die.

“The idea of ​​this program is to remove the material and hopefully find an end use for it, either through a land application or composting,” Jonkman said.

While the machines used to harvest these plants are probably too dangerous for the young volunteers to be actively involved, Jonkman still hopes to provide educational presentations.

Adding additional projects to the Holland Marsh Municipal Services Joint Board’s plate would normally require an increase in the council tax, but provincial funding means that’s not an issue.

“These grants will actually benefit farmers because they won’t be assessed those costs, but they will see an improvement in how it’s managed,” Jonkman said.

Jonkman previously recommended such projects in a report to the city’s green initiatives advisory committee, which he advocated and received council support on Sept. 5.

“These investments to protect the Holland River and Lake Simcoe are nature-based solutions. We use the power of plants to organically filter our water. It’s such a simple concept, but an important contribution to a clean environment,” Ward 2 Coun. and committee chairman Jonathan Scott said in a press release.

Funding for the two marsh projects is part of $289,000 for Lake Simcoe Youth Stewardship previously announced at the Orillia Museum of Art and History on Friday, April 29.

The province has announced $37 million to protect Lake Simcoe since 2018, including $24 million announced through Budget 2024 to reduce phosphorus discharges from the Holland River into Lake Simcoe.

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