Province appoints members to Muskoka Watershed Advisory Group



Yesterday, Jeff Yurek, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks and Norm Miller, MPP for Parry Sound-Muskoka, announced the province’s appointment of nine members to the Muskoka Watershed Advisory Group.

“I’m pleased to introduce the community and business leaders who will be working with the Province to help identify projects to protect the Muskoka Watershed and support economic growth in the region,” said Yurek. “The new advisory group will be a valuable resource for people and municipalities in the region that depend on effective watershed management as more development and flooding events occur.”

In August 2018, Ontario announced a $5 million Muskoka Watershed Conservation and Management Initiative to better identify risks and issues facing the Muskoka region. The government also committed to matching tax-deductible donations from people and businesses to the initiative, and any funding from other levels of government, up to a total of an additional $5 million.

The primary focus of the Muskoka Watershed Advisory Group will be to provide advice and recommendations to the minister to help protect and conserve the Muskoka Watershed and support the economic growth of the region.

Advisory group members have varied expertise in the fields of environmental protection and conservation, resource management, urban and land use planning, municipal government, natural or applied sciences, and finance within Ontario.

The appoinrees are:

Chair, Mardi Witzel serves on a number of committees at the KidsAbility Foundation, part of the KidsAbility Centre for Child Development, and she serves on the New Property Development Committee and the Nominating Committee at the Muskoka Lakes Golf and Country Club.

Chris Cragg is the principal of Cragg Consulting Services where he provides civil engineering consulting services and evaluates the safety of earth and concrete dams. An engineer for more than 44 years, Cragg also chairs the environment committee of the Muskoka Lakes Association, is a member of the Muskoka Watershed Council and is on the advisory council for the Muskoka Steamship & Discovery Center.

Don Smith is a District councillor for the Town of Bracebridge and District of Muskoka. Smith is also publisher and editor at Unique Publishing Inc., which publishes the regional lifestyle magazine Unique Muskoka, and is co-owner of local retail business Unique Muskoka Emporium Inc. He has been a member of the Rotary Club of Bracebridge for 34 years.

John Beaucage is a member of Wasauksing First Nation. He serves as the chair of the First Nation Market Housing Fund, Board of Nigig Power Corp. and Mitigokaa Development Corporation. Beaucage has a Certificate of First Nation Planning from the University of British Columbia and an Honorary Doctor of Letters from Nipissing University.

John Miller is President of Muskoka Steamships & Discovery Centre. Miller is also a volunteer director and treasurer for the Muskoka Wharf Association.

Julie Cayley is a professional agrologist and the executive director of the Severn Sound Environmental Association where she works with a team to deliver on water quality and environmental goals and outcomes as well as strategically guide the organization for a sustainable future. She is owner and principal of Julie Cayley Consulting and serves on the board of Huronia Community Foundation.

Kevin Trimble is a senior ecologist and chair of the Muskoka Watershed Council, which provides evidence-based input on watershed health. He is also employed part time with RiverStone Environmental Solutions Inc. where he provides strategic advice, review and guidance on environmental permitting and public sector projects across Ontario.

Norman Yan is a senior research scholar and professor emeritus at York University where he researches human impact on lakes and focuses on approaches to restore lakes from widespread decline in calcium levels and increases in road salt. Yan chairs the Friends of the Muskoka Watershed.

Patricia Arney lives in the community of Bala, in the Township of Muskoka Lakes, and she is a member of the Muskoka Watershed Council and the Muskoka Lakes Chamber of Commerce.

“The Muskoka Watershed is incredibly important to the health of our environment and our local economy,” said MPP Miller. “I am pleased the newly appointed advisory group represents a mix of both year-round and seasonal residents and includes people from various backgrounds, skill sets and knowledge. I look forward to hearing what they recommend to protect the Muskoka Watershed for generations to come.”

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