Georgina Island First Nation Fixed Link Secretariat Update to Town of Georgina Council
On October 4, 2023, Michael Jacobs from Cambium Indigenous Professional Services, serving as the Fixed Link Project Secretariat, presented a comprehensive update to the Georgina Town Council regarding the Georgina Island First Nation Fixed Link Project.
The presentation began by revisiting the foundation of the Georgina Island Fixed Link Project. In February 2021, the Georgina Island First Nation passed a resolution reaffirming their commitment to pursue the Fixed Link Project. This resolution set ambitious goals: to complete the impact assessment by December 31, 2024, and to have the fixed link fully operational by December 31, 2026. Despite delays due to extensive information and report reviews, these aspirational goals remain unchanged.
The journey toward realizing the Fixed Link Project began in 2018, when a technical team was hired to explore the project's feasibility. Over time, the project progressed through various stages of development and engagement. Notably, the community opted for the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (IAAC) process, prioritizing transparency and engagement to ensure all voices were heard.
Fieldwork began in May 2022, covering a range of studies from ecology to coastal engineering and hydrogeology. A primary focus of the First Nation is understanding the project's environmental impact and mitigating any adverse effects.
Community involvement and stakeholder engagement have been central to the project. Multiple engagements have occurred, including presentations to the council and meetings with the Georgina Island community, Lake Simcoe stakeholders, and the general public.
Additional engagements are planned, and technical specialists will be available for discussions and presentations to address community concerns. Bi-weekly updates will be posted on the GIFL project's website to ensure transparency.
Environmental Impact and Coastal Engineering
One of the key aspects discussed during the presentation was the project's commitment to environmental impact assessment and mitigation. Changes to the project path have been made to protect ecologically sensitive areas. To better understand the potential impact on Lake Simcoe's sandbars and overall ecological health, coastal engineering studies have been commissioned. These studies will help evaluate the consequences of the project on the local ecosystem.
Engagement Plans and Feedback
The project team values feedback from the community and stakeholders. Concerns, comments, and support are collected through formal letters and emails. Feedback will be categorized and addressed collectively as part of the Detailed Project Submission in the IAAC process to ensure all perspectives are considered.
The presentation was well-received by the council, and a motion was passed to receive the presentation. Following the presentation, the Town of Georgina Council expressed appreciation for the update and encouraged ongoing communication with the broader Lake Simcoe community. The council recognized the efforts made to provide accurate information and the importance of sharing information to dispel rumours and misinformation.
Where to Watch the Presentation
If you missed the presentation, you can watch the recording here. Mr. Jacobs' presentation begins at the 12-minute and 7-second mark.
GIFL Project: Cultural Heritage Report
WSP's Cultural Heritage Report for the Georgina Island Fixed Link Project identifies key heritage sites and plans mitigation measures, with ongoing updates to include more First Nation elements.
Fixed link is ‘the promise of a better future’ for Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation
Community adhering to Impact Assessment Agency of Canada process to assess potential impacts on Lake Simcoe: Chief Donna Big Canoe
GIFL Project: Preliminary Assessment of Geotechnical Conditions
A desktop study was carried out to collect information on ground conditions in the project area from previous geotechnical investigations and geological maps/reports.