Along its course, the river widens into several lakes, including Onwatin in Hanmer; Kusk off Panache Lake Road (watch out for leeches); Grassy; and Wabagishik, out on the fringes of Ward 2. Lake Wabagishik was made famous by the Group of Seven. Franklin Carmichael painted the lake in 1928 and if you have ever paddled along its waters, you will understand why he was inspired. At the southern end of Wabagishik is a set of rapids where the river narrows once again. It is very picturesque.
I fell in love with the Vermilion River last year when I decided to paddle this stretch in early October. The colours were just starting to pop and the riverbanks were explosively yellow and bright. It was like travelling through the sun. I bottomed out about six times and had to drag my kayak through the chilly shallow waters, but it was well worth the effort.
Update: Victory!! Provincial Government announced that Schedule 10 will be withdrawn from Bill 66 because of the huge public outcry. People power works!
A big thanks to all those who signed petitions and contacted their MPPs!!
The Government of Ontario is proposing Bill 66, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2018. It is unacceptable that Schedule 10 of this Bill would enable municipalities to simply pass an “open-for-business planning by-law” under the Planning Act, to exempt local development from the application of key components of several important provincial laws, plans and policies, including the:
• Clean Water Act, 2006, Section 39
• Great Lakes Protection Act, 2015, Section 20
• Greenbelt Act, 2005, Section 7
• Lake Simcoe Protection Act, 2008, Section 6, and
• Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act, 2003, Section 7
It’s also extremely troubling that a municipal open-for-business planning by-law would not be subject to public notice, comment or appeal provisions which are currently mandatory under the Planning Act. Read more →
It is crucial that we reject Bill 66, as risky development decisions made in this jurisdiction or adjacent municipalities could have negative impacts on Sudbury’s air, land and/or water, as well as the Great Lakes and many other highly valued ecosystems. Being “Open for Business” is a good thing, unless it is at the expense of public health and safety or the environment.
As part of the Lower Vermilion Source Water Quality Monitoring Project, funded through a 3-year Ontario Trillium Foundation grant, Carrie Strangway completed her Master’s Thesis in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a degree of Master of Science in the Faculty of Science, Applied Bioscience, University of Ontario Institute of Technology. What follows is Carrie’s published Thesis:
Abstract The Vermilion River and major tributaries (VRMT) are located in the Vermilion watershed (4272 km2) in north-central Ontario, Canada. This watershed not only is dominated by natural land-cover but also has a legacy of mining and other development activities. The VRMT receive various point (e.g., sewage effluent) and non-point (e.g., mining activity runoff) inputs, in addition to flow regulation features.
Further development in the Vermilion watershed has been proposed, raising concerns about cumulative impacts to ecosystem health in the VRMT. Due to the lack of historical assessments on riverine-health in the VRMT, a comprehensive suite of water quality parameters was collected monthly at 28 sites during the ice-free period of 2013 and 2014. Canadian water quality guidelines and objectives were not met by an assortment of water quality parameters, including nutrients and metals. This demonstrates that the VRMT is an impacted system with several pollution hotspots, particularly downstream of wastewater treatment facilities. Water quality throughout the river system appeared to be influenced by three distinct land-cover categories: forest, barren, and agriculture.
Three spatial pathway models (geographical, topographical, and river network) were employed to assess the complex interactions between spatial pathways, stressors, and water quality condition. Topographical landscape analyses were performed at five different scales, where the strongest relationships between water quality and land-use occurred at the catchment scale. Sites on the main stem of Junction Creek, a tributary impacted by industrial and urban development, had above average concentrations for the majority of water quality parameters measured, including metals and nitrogen. The river network pathway (i.e., asymmetric eigenvector map (AEM)) and topographical feature (i.e., catchment land-use) models explained most of the variation in water quality (62.2%), indicating that they may be useful tools in assessing the spatial determinants of water quality decline. Read more →
This is the result of a 3 year water quality sampling project on the Lower Vermilion River, within the Vermilion River Watershed.
A big thank you to the Ontario Trillium Foundation for funding this important Project!!
Another big thank you goes out to KGHM International Ltd. for their generous donation and for Conservation Sudbury’s in-kind contribution towards the extension of our Project into the 3rd year!!
“We are very grateful to the Ontario Trillium Foundation, KGHM International Inc. and Conservation Sudbury for supporting our organization and community in this important Project. The health of the Vermilion River is very important to the thousands of people who rely on it for their drinking water, recreation, and family enjoyment” said VRS Chair, Linda Heron.
Queen’s University student, Zara Jennings
In 2013, Zara Jennings, a Queen’s University 4th year student and her professor, Brian Cummings, undertook sediment core sampling on Wabagishik Lake. Results indicated that the heavy metal contamination has steadily improved over the years; however, heavy metal contamination is still well into the “severe effect level” and severe contamination lies within centimeters of the sediment surface. Heavy metal contamination in the “severe effect level”, include nickel, copper, arsenic, lead, manganese, iron, cadmium and zinc. Zara has provided an outstanding 4th year Thesis that will be a major part of the final project report for our 2-year Lower Vermilion Source Water Quality Monitoring study.
In July of 2014, the Chair of the Vermilion River Stewardship made a presentation to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change staff regarding concerns about heavy metal contamination in the Vermilion River that was not properly addressed by the proponent in consideration of the Wabagishik Rapids Generating Station Environmental Report:
Erik made this presentation at our 15 January 2014 Annual General Meeting:
Glencore representatives presented at our Vermilion River Stewardship meeting on Wednesday, 12 November 2014, to inform our membership of the changes to their project.