‘Many concerns’ held about Port Perry lakeshore development: Mississaugas of Scugog Island, environmentalists

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Published July 10, 2024 at 1:20 pm

Port Perry Bay on Lake Scugog

An ongoing development on the shores of Lake Scugog has prompted “many concerns” from the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.

In December 2023, Scugog Township Council approved a 500-600-unit Avenu Properties neighbourhood on the lakeshore in downtown Port Perry. The 62-acre site sits in Port Perry’s urban area and is designated as residential land, so it’s already zoned for many housing options.

Scugog also applied to Ontario’s Community Infrastructure and Housing Accelerator, which expedites zoning changes to allow substantial new developments. Anvenu described their plan as a “new paradigm” of a “people-oriented, medium-density residential development.”

The Township later held a public meeting in February and reaffirmed their support of the development in March. However, there remains no start date for the project.

However, some in the community are less enthused about the project than the council. Environmentalist group Scugog Lake Stewards believe the development “is cause for concern about potential the impacts on the health of Lake Scugog, and wetlands and other sensitive features within or abutting the lands in question.”

Scugog Lake Stewards president and former Kawartha Region Conservation Authority CAO Robert Messervey said, “Over the last few decades, urban development has disproportionately impacted water quality in the lake relative to agriculture, which is the dominant land-use in the watershed.”

Masservey stressed his group is closely involved with the open meetings about the project and collecting data which will “enable us to present a clear and science-based response to the development and its potential impacts on the Lake and shoreline areas.”

Ontario Tech University Professor of Environmental Biology Andrea Kirkwood called Lake Scugog “a stressed ecosystem.”

“Over the last few decades, urban development has disproportionately impacted water quality in the lake relative to agriculture, which is the dominant land-use in the watershed,” she continued, mentioning studies that indicate higher levels of phosphorus and chloride.

“Based on these findings, it is expected that urban development at the scale proposed by Avenu properties would only exacerbate the negative effects of urban development on lake health,” Kirkwood concluded.

The local First Nations community, the Mississaugas of Scugog, are just as concerned as the scientific community.

“We have many concerns about the proposed Avenu development planned for the shores of Lake Scugog. Our concern for the wildlife we share this space with is certainly one of them,” the Nation said.

Lake Scugog is a shallow, marshy body of water prone to rapid ecological changes. It’s fed by the Blackstock and Cawkers Creeks and the Nonquon River. It then drains out through Scugog River into the Trent watershed.

The Mississaugas settled in the basin in the early 1700s. However, they were driven further north to the island as British Loyalist settlers flooded into Canada later that century. It truly became a lake in 1834 when William Purdy damned Scugog River near Lindsay to power his grist mill, flooding the marshlands.

Over time, communities grew along the lakeshore. In the years since, numerous invasive species have entered the lake, choking out native flora and sparking significant blue-green algae blooms.

As a result, Scugog Township, the Mississaugas and Durham Region launched the Lake Scugog Enhancement Project to clean up the lake.

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