Local Green Leaders

As the Explore Lake Simcoe (ELS) project moves forward, we continue to learn about the steps that local businesses are taking to increase energy efficiency, to divert waste, to conserve water, and to reduce the use of toxic products. Logo-cropAs a result, we regularly add case examples to the Explore Lake Simcoe website that highlight these efforts. Some examples represent businesses just beginning to explore environmental sustainability, while others represent businesses that have been committed to sustainability for a long time. Read Full Article.

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Read about Lake Simcoe’s Green Leaders

Here are some highlights of businesses in the Lake Simcoe area and the green initiatives they’ve undertaken that we find deserving of applause.


Barrie KOA (10/20/2016) – Camping is all about appreciating the natural environment. Waking up to the sound of birds, breathing the fresh air and enjoying the first cup of coffee outside are some of the simple pleasures of camping. Read more.

CastleView Inn (03/21/2017) – Castleview Inn is carefully constructed with building materials and technology selected with the environment in mind.  The craftsmanship is the work of owner and builder, Danny Danshart who has integrated energy and water saving measures and strives to maximize waste diversion. Read more.

Forks in the Trail B&B (02/28/2017) -(member of the Federation of Ontario Bed and Breakfast Accommodation) Nestled in the forest, Forks in the Trail B&B can act as a relaxing home base, or as a destination itself. There is lots to enjoy on the Forks in the Trail property, including a salt water pool, hot tub, yoga studio and classes, sauna, cooking classes, or the beautiful surroundings. Read more.

Toronto North Cookstown KOA (part of Kamp Green) – information on sustainable initiatives coming soon. Read more.

Adventure and Tourism Outfitters

Chances “R” Sailing Excursions (10/14/2016) – Spending time on the water is the best way to appreciate the beauty of Lake Simcoe. Chances “R” Excursions  out of Barrie offers an environmentally friendly, low impact experience that is both tranquil and  exhilarating. Read more.

Go Tours Canada – Segway tours  (12/7/2016) – Looking for a different outdoor activity? Wind along the off-road trails at Horseshoe Valley with Go Tours Canada. Riding a Segway is a fun, safe, low impact way to cover ground and explore. Read more.

Treetop Trekking (12/13/2016) – A zip line and aerial game park adventure company with a location at Horseshoe Valley Resort. Not only does Treetop Trekking offer an exciting way to experience trees, forests, and nature, the company also makes sure the activity is offered in a way that minimizes negative impacts on the forest itself. Read more.


Avalon Orchards (10/25/2016)- (part of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Environmental Farm program and certified organic according to Canadian and U.S. standards) For over 20 years, Avalon Orchards of Innisfil has been dedicated to supporting organic agriculture. Not only do the owners operate a certified organic apple orchard, but they are also dedicated to sharing their knowledge about organic farming with others. Read More.

Barrie Hill Farms  (12/20/2016) – (part of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Environmental Farm program) Want to know more about how your food is produced? Start by getting to know your local farmers. Barrie Hill Farms   is a second generation farm that offers a wide range of fruits and vegetables that are available for purchase from their on-farm market. Using technology, Barrie Hill Farms is run as efficiently as possible. Read more.

Cookstown Greens (10/04/2016) – (part of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Environmental Farm program, certified organic by ProCert)  There are many reasons why it is important to support local food producers, ranging from exceptional taste, freshness of produce, shorter transportation routes, local economic stimulus, and protection and stewardship of local land. Read more.

Dickey Bee Honey (08/06/2016) – When the decision was made to build a new Dickey Bee Honey teaching facility in Innisfil, both the environmental mission of the business and the bottom line were considered. Energy efficiency was top-of-mind during the initial construction and subsequent expansion. Read more.

Dickey Bee Honey (08/08/2016) – During a trip to Dickey Bee Honey farm in Cookstown, not only can you purchase delicious honey-based products, but you can learn how valuable the honey bee is, how to protect it, and –if you are so inclined—how to become a beekeeper. Read more.

Dingo Farms (06/01/2017) – (part of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Environmental Farm program) At Dingo Farms humane care of the animals is paramount, as is proper care of the land and environment. This Bradford-local farm sells naturally-raised beef, pork, lamb and seasonal poultry. Read more.

Nicholyn Farms (02/16/2017) –Whether you are on your way to or from the cottage, local to the area or just visiting, do not miss Nicholyn Farms in Phelpston.  A part of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Environmental Farm program, Nicholyn’s commitment to environmentally-sustainable practices is clearly outlined on their website. Read more.

Sharon Creek Farm (01/18/2017) (part of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Environmental Farm program, certified organic by ProCert) Sharon Creek Farm sits in an unassuming spot atop the Nokiida Trail in the Holland Valley. This certified organic, environmentally-minded farm provides consumers in York Region nearby access to fresh, locally-grown, certified organic produce, eggs, seasonal fruits and veggies, and even organic meat. Read more.

Boating and Marinas

City of Barrie Marina (11/16/2016) –  The City of Barrie Marina & Tiffin Boat Launch has earned both Clean Marine and Blue Flag certification for environmental efforts. Above and beyond the requirements for these two certifications, the following practices at the City of Barrie Marina contribute to water quality protection in Lake Simcoe. Read more.

Happy Paddling (07/27/2016) – A great way to appreciate the natural beauty of Lake Simcoe is to get out on the water. Canoeing, kayaking, and stand up paddle boarding are activities that leave no trace in the natural environment, and allow you to explore parts of the lake that may otherwise be difficult to reach. Read more.

Lefroy Harbour Resorts (08/10/2015) – 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… Read More.

Lefroy Harbour Resorts (08/26/2016) – “The lake is our future” said Linda Ellery, Manager of Lefroy Harbour Resorts, as we concluded our tour of the resort in an electric golf car. Linda’s statement is reflected in the business decisions made at Lefroy Harbour Resorts (which also encompasses Kon Tiki Marine). Read more.

Marina Del Rey (12/12/2016) – For 50 years, Marina del Rey—a full service marina in Orillia—has provided services to boaters on Lake Simcoe. Having earned a 5 Anchor Diamond rating from the Boating Ontario Clean Marine program, Marina del Rey continues to move forward and support their dedication to high environmental standards with the installation of a 250KW solar system on the boat house roof. Read more.

Marina Del Rey update (08/17/2017) – This winter Marina Del Rey in Orillia installed a 250KW solar system on their boat house roof under the Feed in Tariff program. Currently, the boat house rooftop panels at Marina Del Rey “produce electricity to supply 80 homes off the grid, representing a reduction 66 tonnes of CO2 emissions.” Read more. 

Food Service

Around My Gluten Free Table (04/27/2017) – Knowing how to eat gluten free is complicated. Chef and owner, Laurie has combined her experience as a chef with gluten-free ingredients to offer a variety of made-from-scratch gluten free foods. Wondering about the owner’s commitment to environmental sustainability? Read more.

Barnstormer Brewing (01/13/2017) – participant in the #nostrawchallenge – information on sustainable initiatives coming soon

Boon Burger Café Barrie (09/23/2015) – 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. Read more.

Donaleigh’s Irish Pub House (01/19/2017) -When Explore Lake Simcoe met with Don Kellett (co-owner of Donaleigh’s) to discuss environmental sustainability at his popular Irish pub in Barrie, he said “We are constantly looking for the next step forward. Read more. -participant in the #nostrawchallenge

Farmhouse Restaurant Barrie (01/13/2017) – participant in the #nostrawchallenge

Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery (27/05/2017) – For those who like to drink beer, the fact that craft breweries are gaining in popularity across Ontario comes as no surprise. What may be a surprise is the challenge faced by these breweries to deal with wastewater once they achieve certain levels of production. Read more.

Grilled Cheese Social Eatery (01/19/2017) – Think comfort food and grilled cheese often comes to mind. The Grilled Cheese Social Eatery in Barrie takes this familiar sandwich to a new level with 16 mouth-watering versions, and now they are adding compostable food service ware, and environmental awareness to the menu. Read more. – participant in the #nostrawchallenge

Il Buco Ristorante (01/13/2017) – participant in the #nostrawchallenge

J’Adore Fine Cheese & Chocolate (11/27/2015) – 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. Read more.

Lake Country Grill -participant in the #nostrawchallenge

Lazy Tulip Café (10/20/2016) – Looking to relax, take a break, and enjoy homemade food in a restaurant that puts support for local food and environmental sustainability top of mind? Read more. – participant in the #nostrawchallenge

Market Buffet BBQ & Steakhouse (11/07/2016) – Managing a busy buffet restaurant takes skill, organization and creativity. What you may not think of when you shimmy up to the buffet table is how hard the staff work to reduce food waste. Read more. – participant in the #nostrawchallenge

Ripe Juicery (10/05/2016) – Looking for an alternative to coffee for breakfast or for a mid-day pick up? A healthy juice, parfait, or bowl may be just what your body is craving. Read more. – participant in the #nostrawchallenge

Shine Juice Bar and Cafe (03/04/2017) – At Shine Juice Bar and Cafe in Orillia, waste diversion is not just a business practice, it is a philosophy. The business was built on a desire to provide delicious, clean, healthy, vegan menu options to customers and waste diversion is a natural extension of this vision. Read more.


Bear Creek Golf Club (08/03/2017) Family-owned for 22 years, Bear Creek Golf Club operators pride themselves on being accessible to speak with members. Bear Creek operators extend an invitation to golfers to discuss any questions over coffee or out on the course. Read more.

Big Cedar Golf and Country Club (12/06/2016) – Nestled between lakefront cottages and the Lefroy airport, Big Cedar Golf and Country Club has been in operation since 1931. As a previous participant with the Audubon International program for golf courses, Big Cedar golf continues to apply many of the environmental practices advocated through the program. Read more.

Blackwater Golf Course (07/04/2017)  (Audubon International Cooperative Sanctuary Program member) -Working hand-in-hand with nature, Blackwater Golf Course operators are devoted to nurturing strong healthy turf which is resistant to drought, weeds and disease. Read more.

Borden Golf Club (11/15/2016) -Since Borden Golf Club at CFB Borden has been in operation for 62 years, general manager Gary Corriveau is keenly aware of how technological advances have allowed golf courses to increase sustainable practices over time. Advances relate to the availability of natural products, the evolution of mechanical turf-management practices, and even changing golfer expectations. Read more.

The Briars Golf Course (09/15/2017) -The history of The Briars is steeped in a dedication to conservation.  The 18 hole golf course that skirts Lake Simcoe and is within a short walk of The Briars Resort and Spa recently celebrated 90 years of being in business. Read more.

Cardinal Golf Club (08/22/2017) (Certified with the Audubon International Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf) -Driving into the parking lot of Redcrest Golf Course (one of the four courses at Cardinal Golf Club), one can’t help but notice the shiny golf carts lined up neatly in front of attractive charging stations. Read more.

Carrying Place Golf and Country Club (09/15/2017) -Rapid technological change is affecting all industries and the golf sector is no exception. The availability of organic products for turf management is increasing. Carrying Place Golf and Country Club operators are embracing these new products wholeheartedly. Read more.

Hawk Ridge Golf Club (08/02/2017)  Home to 2 championship 18 hole courses and a 9 hole par 3 course, Hawk Ridge Golf and Country Club relies heavily on cultural practices to keep the turf healthy and ready for play. The term “cultural practices” refers to manual and mechanical processes that reduce the need for chemical inputs and they are based on scientific knowledge, experience and expertise. Read more.

Innisfil Creek Golf Course (09/08/2017) Dedicated to greenspace protection, Innisfil Creek Golf Course operator Nick Torkos stresses that golf course operators care a great deal about the natural environment. He speaks with pride about the work at Innisfil Creek to leave the watercourse in as natural a state as possible, to take steps to protect water quality, and to attract animal life. Read more.

King’s Riding Golf Club (09/14/2017) (Certified with the Audubon International Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf ) Conveniently located near a residential area in Aurora, King’s Riding Golf Club offers the chance to play a well-maintained course nestled in nature. As is the case with many ClubLink courses, King’s Riding is certified with Audubon International. Read more.

Maples of Ballantrae (07/26/2017) The clubhouse at Maples of Ballantrae looks onto a spectacular field of mature trees. Over time, the course operators have naturalized as many areas as possible, in an effort to save money and labour costs, to expand animal habitat and to protect water quality. Read more.

Mill Run Golf Club (08/09/2017) Mill Run Golf Club operators have embraced a number of environmental initiatives over the years. Recently, Mill Run in Uxbridge collaborated with University of Toronto researchers to allow them to conduct vegetation inventories for 6 plots on the course. In 2011, the course owners undertook a million dollar project to rehabilitate the Pefferlaw Brook. Read more.

National Pines Golf Club (09/13/2017) The gently rolling landscape of National Pines has been crafted to integrate with the surrounding natural environment. Central to the course is the creek, which has been given at least a 30 yard natural buffer by the course operators. Read more. National Pines is a ClubLink course–read more to learn more about their corporate focus on sustainability.

Pheasant Run Golf Club (09/05/2017) (Certified with the Audubon International Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf ) Audubon International certified since 2010, Pheasant Run Golf Club regularly makes changes to course operations to improve environmental sustainability. Led by course superintendent Leasha Schwab, the staff at Pheasant Run work hard to create a beautiful playing surface while being dedicated to using as few artificial inputs as possible. Read more.

Tangle Creek Golf and Country Club (05/17/2017) – Signs posted around the Tangle Creek Golf and Country Club about ongoing environmental initiatives represent the course operator’s commitment to environmental protection, while the appealing view from the clubhouse shows just how much of the course is naturalized. Read more.

Westview Golf Club  (31/05/2017) (Certified with the Audubon International Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf ) –As a member of Audubon International since 2008, Westview Golf Club owners and operators are committed to the principles behind the program. When asked to identify the best part of being involved in the program, Vicki Nisbett of Westview said it definitely has to be protection of habitat, and the subsequent presence of wildlife. Read more.

Willow Greens Golf (13/07/2017) – During a recent conversation with Willow Greens Golf Centre operators, it became apparent that turf management practices which are good for the environment are also good for business. Read more.

Health and Wellness

Bliss Ann Green Yoga (08/26/2016) – Walking into the BLiSS Ann Green Yoga studio in Barrie, customers quickly become aware of how sustainable principles are incorporated into daily operations to create an environment that supports both human and environmental health. Read more.

Discover Wellness (11/16/2016) – Holistic health care considers the entire person and the multitude of factors that contribute to good health. In line with a holistic approach, Discover Wellness takes the natural environment into account when business decisions are made. Read more.

Flourish Vitality Centre (09/15/2016) – Environmental principles guided many of the decisions made when the owners of Flourish Vitality Centre in Barrie set out to create a welcoming, comfortable wellness studio. Read more.

Kind Living (11/29/2016)  – Within a stone’s throw of Lake Couchiching, public hiking trails and cycling routes, Kind Living yoga studio and boutique in Orillia is the embodiment of a business built upon the principles of environmental sustainability. Read more.

Modo Yoga Barrie (01/28/2016)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. Read more.


Chicopee Tube Park (12/20/2016) – Although Chicopee is not located in the Lake Simcoe watershed, the story is included here as a case study of what is possible. As an extension of the Chicopee Tube Park Green Pathways environmental initiative—and as a way to curb rising water and energy costs–Chicopee Tube Park created a water harvesting system that takes advantage of water already available on the property. While doing so, they also eliminated the need for municipal water for snowmaking. Read more.

Ski Snow Valley: (01/28/2016) 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. Read more.

Ski Snow Valley: (02/02/2017) – The most resource intensive initiative was the resort-wide recycling program. Running since January 01, 2017, 3-stream recycling is collected in the day lodge, and 2-stream collection was adopted for all other areas of the resort.  Read more.

Hardwood Ski & Bike (02/26/2016) – 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. Read more.


Busch Systems Canada (09/28/2017) Tucked away in the south end of Barrie is a modern example of a sustainable office space that incorporates a wide range of environmental principles. Busch Systems Canada is a Barrie-local recycle and waste bin manufacturer, and the building showcases how the business’ commitment to environmental practices expands well beyond waste management and diversion. Read more.

Creative Café (11/24/2016) – Creative Café is a family-friendly paint your own pottery studio which also offers glass fusing, mosaics, canvas painting, pottery wheel, and clay hand building—perfect for parties or a day excursion. Evidence of waste diversion efforts are to be found all around the cheerful, colourfully decorated art studio. Read more.

The Dragonfly Room Salon Spa – (03/13/2017) Founded on eco-principles, the Dragonfly Room Salon Spa in Orillia has always taken a natural approach to hairstyling and aesthetics.  A member of Green Circle Salons, The Dragonfly Room diverts almost all of it’s waste. Read more.

Foxwood Farm (12/29/2016) – In close proximity to the GTA, Foxwood Farm offers English riding lessons, summer camp and boarding. Boasting an indoor arena, a heated tack room, an outdoor grass ring, a jump cross country course, a sand ring and renovated barn, the farm also has access to 100 acres of groomed trails. The design of this farm maximizes the use of outdoor space, which allows the horses to live in their natural habitat. Read more.

Mountain Equipment Coop (11/07/2016) – As shopping season ramps up, a growing number of consumers will keep the environment in mind as they make purchasing decisions. Read more.

Scales Nature Park – information on sustainable initiatives coming soon


Cycling Adventure in Barrie, ON (08/04/2016) – I hadn’t seen my friend who lives in Barrie all summer, so she invited me to come up from Toronto to visit her. We decided I would take the GO train to Barrie and we would experience the beautiful city she lives in! Read more.

Explore Lake Simcoe highlights 2015 (01/28/2016) – 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. Read more.