Let’s celebrate the businesses around Lake Simcoe taking steps to Go Green!

Tourism businesses with sustainability in mind strive to provide an excellent experience for their visitors. They know that a rewarding visit will bring customers back, again and again. They set themselves apart by communicating their message – a commitment to protect Lake Simcoe and their local community.

Taking steps to green your business will show visitors you’re committed to the future of a healthy watershed for Lake Simcoe’s people. You’ll be uniquely positioned to provide visitors a meaningful experience – what more and more are asking for. It’s the difference between a one-time stop and repeat visits – real relationship building with a community that cares. Become a green business pioneer in your community! We’ll showcase your business and best practices here.

Local Green Leader

Hardwood Ski & Bike plowing ahead towards Sustainability

Lake Simcoe lies in Ontario’s Snowbelt, a region of heavy lake-effect snowfall that favours a thriving winter tourism season. Home to several ski resorts, hundreds of kilometers of trails and parks, winter outdoor recreation activities around Lake Simcoe abound, from alpine to nordic skiing, snowboarding to snowshoeing. However, shrinking snow in the face of climate change, and subsequently shorter ski seasons, are becoming a real threat to Lake Simcoe winter tourism.

According to the Ministry of Natural Resources Climate Change Research Report on the Lake Simcoe watershed 2012, climate projection models indicate the alpine ski season will be significantly shorter by the end of the century. Snowmaking costs will also increase, making it increasingly challenging to achieve a 12-week ski season.

It appears nordic skiing in the Lake Simcoe watershed will be even more vulnerable to climate change as snow isn’t usually supplemented by artificial snowmaking. The report estimates the cross-country ski season will be 39 – 55 % shorter in the 2020s and up to 86 % shorter by the end of this century based on the combination of various climate model scenarios.

Add to this gloomy projection the approximately 5,000 residents employed by local ski resorts – also the number one employer of youth in the region – who may be affected by a shorter work season and less busy hills; climate change may have far reaching effects on the local economy.

The good news is, as an industry that relies so heavily on climate and the scenic beauty of our natural areas, ski operators can easily leverage community support for reducing their impacts and mitigating the effects of climate change. Implementing environmentally sustainable and energy efficient practices are the only way forward.

In its fifteenth year, the National Ski Area Association’s over 190 resorts have adopted the Sustainable Slopes program to improve environmental performance in ski area operations and management. This Environmental Charter addresses the sustainable use of natural resources through 21 environmental principles covering issues of energy use for snowmaking to wastewater management, transportation, education and advocacy. Most recently, some member resorts are taking part in the program’s Climate Challenge – tracking, setting targets and taking action to reduce their carbon footprints.

The first and only Canadian resort to take part in the Climate Challenge is local leader, Beaver Valley Ski Club in Markdale, Ontario approximately one hour west of Barrie. They are working on projects to reduce green house gas emissions and have obtained third-party LEAF certification for responsible kitchen management. Their practices include using reusable dishware, 100% post-consumer recycled paper products and locally sourced menu items. They’ve moved ahead on waste diversion from single stream recycling to three-stream that includes an organic waste program.

While there’s much to draw from Beaver Valley’s environmental best practices, ski resorts here in the Lake Simcoe watershed are also beginning to see the big picture. Notably, Harwood Ski & Bike is quickly plowing the way to becoming a local industry leader in green tourism. For instance, they’ve chosen to run their snow groomer on canola oil. The environmentally safe vegetable oil is nontoxic and saves the company an enormous amount in potential environmental remediation costs if they were to encounter a hydraulic leak, which could shut down operations. The benefit of mitigating risk alone serves as a huge incentive to steering away from fossil fuels.

Gareth Houben, Assistant General Manager explained that to make practices such as converting to biodiesel commonplace, there needs to be a change of mindset in the industry to see the benefits of cost savings and lowered environmental impacts from a long-term point of view.

Hardwood is now looking into how it can green its supply chain, moving towards biodegradable food and beverage service products, which will go a long way towards their efforts to divert waste from the local landfill. Similarly, they’ve moved to recycled paper for promotional printing and introduced a discount to visitors who bring their own reusable coffee cup.

The cross country ski and mountain bike resort recently applied for a grant through the Electric Vehicle Chargers Ontario program, which, if approved, would put them on the map as a tourism business on the public EV grid the Government of Ontario plans to expand. Taking steps to reduce their environmental footprint, Hardwood hopes to engage visitors and the outdoor recreation and ski industry on taking action to protect our natural areas.

So, we shouldn’t hang up our ski poles just yet. As consumer demand for sustainability continues to grow (according to a study by Ryerson University, 2015, 61 % of visitors to Lake Simcoe are considering businesses that showcase these actions), tourism businesses can grow Lake Simcoe into a climate-friendly community.

Nicole Viduka is the Sustainability Project Coordinator of the Explore Lake Simcoe project. Inspiring and assisting the visitors and business community of Lake Simcoe in Going Green.

Explore Lake Simcoe Highlights 2015

Since its launch in July 2015, the Explore Lake Simcoe project had the unique opportunity to learn firsthand from businesses in the watershed on what it means to be green.

A business’ everyday operational challenges are unique and with that comes unique opportunities to incorporate sustainability practices. Doing so cuts operating costs, energy consumption and waste, but the benefits exceed simply profit gains.

Businesses working to go green know the value that sustainability initiatives bring to their business; that these initiatives strengthen their brand, build their employee and customer base. They appreciate that minimizing negative impacts to our environment will protect the health of our community. Above all, these enterprises recognize that visitors are looking for sustainable options that align with their own values and love of the region’s outdoors.

The balancing act of doing what’s good for business while doing good isn’t always easy. The reality is there are competing priorities. However, some local Lake Simcoe businesses have shown us it can be done – quite easily. Small actions to reduce waste, support local, educate and engage employees and customers on green initiatives go a long way.

Here are some highlights of businesses in the Lake Simcoe area and the green initiatives they’ve undertaken that we find deserving of applause. Inspired by a shared vision of a healthy Lake Simcoe, these local green leaders are part of a growing community of businesses working to build a stronger, greener economy. We wish to thank them for their efforts.

Here at Explore Lake Simcoe we’re excited to see what this next year has in store for outdoor recreation and tourism. Through community action and partnership we can bring more sustainable offers to the Lake Simcoe region, to ensure it remains a thriving destination for us and our future generations.


Nicole Viduka

Sustainability Project Coordinator

Explore Lake Simcoe

Modo Yoga Barrie Living Green is a pillar of the Modo Yoga philosophy. The studio is built green with energy-efficient insulation, renewable materials, air and water purification. But what really makes us keen? They offer free mat rentals to yogis who choose to cycle to the studio. See the video on Moksha Living Green.

Barrie KOA campground is a leader in green initiatives. A participant in the KOA Kamp Green program practicing resource conservation, they employ solar lighting, energy efficient equipment, low-flow shower heads and toilets and only eco-friendly cleaning supplies. Through events like their season-long E-Waste Fundraiser, the money collected from recycling donated electronic waste is put towards helping children with cancer attend summer camp.

Snow Valley Ski Resort is working on green initiatives and they’re inspiring their staff to get on board! Engaging their employees in fun contests to reduce the company’s carbon footprint and waste, they’re plowing ahead on the path to sustainability.

Boon Burger in downtown Barrie is working towards zero waste. We love that the vegan burger cafe walks the talk, reducing their carbon footprint throughout everyday operations. Diverting waste through the use of compostable products like to-go containers and cups is an example of how small businesses can do big things.


Local Green Leader

J’Adore Fine Cheese & Chocolate offers Holiday Gifts that Give Back

Walking into J’Adore Fine Cheese & Chocolate in downtown Barrie, you’ll feel as though you’ve teleported to a quaint shop in Paris, where the proprietaire passionately divulges how and where the local variety of decadent cheeses and chocolates are crafted. This love of all things local (and high quality products), from handcrafted cheeseboards to Ontario grown peanuts, makes perusing J’Adore’s savory offerings and confections a truly unique experience.

In addition to co-owner Jessi Rae Fournier’s commitment to purveying sustainable, local products, she considers the business’ ecological footprint in all of her purchasing decisions. This means the use of only biodegradable containers and cups as well as fair trade, shade-grown coffee and biodynamic teas. You’ll see signage throughout the shop thanking patrons for supporting the company’s environmental efforts.  If that wasn’t enough, customers can now support not only local efforts, but the lands that produce the chocolate and coffee beans we love so much.

This holiday, when looking for a gift for your loved one or co-worker you can purchase tea from J’Adore’s Teas for Trees program. J’Adore has partnered with Simcoe County-based EarthTreks, a sustainable travel provider specializing in eco-adventure tours throughout Ecuador and the Galapagos. Money raised from the sale of tea will support the development of educational signage for a reforestation project at Refugio Mindo Environmental Innovation Centre, Ecuador. Here, former pasture land is being transformed into a cloud forest reserve for future academic research, education and ecotourism activities. With 8,000 trees planted to date, the Arboretum will provide a significant corridor for birds and other wildlife contributing greatly to biodiversity in the region.

At a time when we’re inundated with big-box Black Friday and holiday sales, why not opt for purchasing presents with a purpose? Supporting local businesses and artisans does them and our local economy good. Add to that aiding our dwindling rainforests and bird populations — now that’s a carol worth singing about.

At family-owned J’Adore Fine Cheese & Chocolate, run by sisters Jessi Rae Fournier and Bekki Martin, you’ll find over 100 varieties of cheese including Mountain Oak Cheese from New Hamburg, Ontario. Local chocolates include gluten-free delights from Stayner as well as J’Adore’s own chocolatier’s creations handcrafted on site.

Be sure to visit J’Adore this holiday to purchase your gift of Teas for Trees.

Nicole Viduka is the Sustainability Project Coordinator of the Explore Lake Simcoe project. Inspiring and assisting the visitors and business community of Lake Simcoe in Going Green.

Local Green Leader

Lefroy Harbour Resorts holds esteemed Clean Marine eco-rating

The largest lake within the Trent Severn waterway, Lake Simcoe is a true boater’s haven. Home to dozens of marinas, recreational boating and fishing are popular pastimes that embody Lake Simcoe’s rich heritage. Since 2001, marinas have been signing on to the Ontario Clean Marine program, a cornerstone of Lake Simcoe’s story.

Established by the joint efforts of Boating Ontario, Environment Canada and Ontario Ministry of the Environment, the voluntary Clean Marine eco-rating program assesses marinas based on over 200 environmental practices – – from fueling to shrinkwrap recycling, environmental education and energy conservation.

Marinas must pass a third-party environmental audit to ensure compliance to program standards. The results are converted to a five-point rating system ranging from a single green leaf anchor to platinum level designation. The Ontario Clean Marine program of environmental best practices is recognized as a marine industry leader in protecting our waterways. It’s been so successful in fact, that both British Columbia and the east coast have adopted the program for their marinas sector.

At the core of Lake Simcoe’s boating culture lies the value of keeping our waters clean. As Jeff Stovold, Lefroy Harbour Resorts owner and past Boating Ontario President explains, “We’ve been in operation for 50 years, and the only way businesses [marinas] will be here for another 50 is if we protect it [Lake Simcoe].”

With a commitment to environmental preservation three generations strong, family-owned and operated, Lefroy Harbour Resorts has been involved with Clean Marine since its inception in 1999. It currently holds a Diamond rating with plans to achieve Platinum, the highest eco-rating, in 2016.

Lefroy Harbour requires boaters sign a pledge expressing their commitment to comply with Clean Marine practices, such as taking steps to avoid fuel and chemical spillage, recycling and proper waste disposal.

Mr. Stovold’s advice for operators that might be hesitant to pursue Clean Marine certification: “Although it may seem like a daunting task to implement, it’s quite easy and you’re likely already doing it.”

It can’t be denied that to some environmentalists recreational boating carries a stigma. However, as many marina operators will tell you, it’s in the nature of the sport to take care of its product: the waters it relies on. A marina’s participation in the Clean Marine program demonstrates its commitment to protecting our waterways for our enjoyment today and generations to come.

Lefroy Harbour Resorts offers two locations, Kon Tiki Marina and Lefroy Harbour Marina, both found in Cook’s Bay on the western shore of Lake Simcoe. With over 300 covered slips amidst 86 acres of well-kept grounds that include a salt-water pool, Harbour House Grill, live music and family events, you’ll be sure feel at home both in the water and out.

Visit Lefroy Harbour Resorts 

To learn more about the Clean Marine program please visit Boating Ontario

Nicole Viduka is the Sustainability Project Coordinator of the Explore Lake Simcoe project. Inspiring and assisting the visitors and business community of Lake Simcoe in Going Green.

Local Green Leader

Boon Burger leaves us green with envy

The one-of-a-kind vegan burger joint leaves no trace as nearly 100% of its waste never sees the landfill. You’ll witness this first hand at their Downtown Barrie location, when you notice the bin marked “garbage” you’re looking for is nowhere in sight. That’s because all of Boon Burger’s containers, cutlery and even drinking straws are compostable. No need for a trash can here.

The conscious decision to use only environmentally-friendly suppliers comes with a small price – it may cost the restaurant a few cents more per cup but, it’s a compromise co-owner and operator, Michael Valiant is willing to make.

The forward-looking, new chef du jour, explains that Boon Burger charges customers a very small “eco-tax” to cover these costs, but the real opportunity lies in the chance to engage with clients on the importance of sustainability.  Michael suggests, “If you make it convenient and show people that it’s easy and affordable to be environmentally-conscious, they may be more likely to get on board.”

The few extra cents on your bill is negligible when you know your dollars are working towards reducing negative environmental impacts, supporting a local business that cares.

The best thing about Boon? Their burgers, of course. Locally-sourced, 100% cruelty-free, plant-based goodness grilled to perfection. Even the most discerning of carnivores will leave beaming over the Bacun Cheeze Burger. Michael says, “Our clients aren’t exclusively vegan and that’s what’s great about Boon. We offer healthy comfort food as mainstream fast food options that people actually get excited about.”

And business is booming at Boon. Visitors are making the special trip to Barrie from throughout Southern Ontario for a bite of a burger with a conscience.

Nicole Viduka is the Sustainability Project Coordinator of the Explore Lake Simcoe project. Inspiring and assisting the visitors and business community of Lake Simcoe in Going Green.