Lake Simcoe Freshwater Ecosystem Initiative

Protecting the waters of Lake Simcoe through a Freshwater Action Plan

The application submission period for funding under the Lake Simcoe Freshwater Ecosystem Initiative is now open. The deadline for applications is 11:59 p.m. EST on March 22, 2024. Please find more information below regarding this funding opportunity

Lake Simcoe is the largest inland lake in southern Ontario and a significant source of drinking water for hundreds of thousands of Canadians. The region is one of the fastest growing in Canada with a thriving recreation and tourism industry. The watershed also contains significant natural, urban and agricultural systems including parts of the Oak Ridges Moraine.

Excessive phosphorus runoff from urban and agricultural sources has led to an increase in nuisance algal blooms in Lake Simcoe and is the most significant cause of degraded water quality in the lake. These issues are further exacerbated by invasive species and the effects of climate change.

Through the Freshwater Action Plan, we are committed to collaborating with partners to support the reduction in nutrient pollution and resulting nuisance and harmful algal blooms to protect the health of Lake Simcoe for future generations.

Funding for preventing toxic and nuisance algae

The goal of the Freshwater Ecosystem Initiatives (FEIs) are to build on proven approaches to deliver regionally-responsive initiatives in eight waterbodies of national significance identified through Canada’s strengthened Freshwater Action Plan. The Initiatives focus on taking action to address priority water quality and ecosystem health challenges. The Lake Simcoe Freshwater Ecosystem Initiative (Lake Simcoe FEI) is focused on the most pressing challenge affecting water quality and aquatic ecosystem health in this basin: preventing toxic and nuisance algae.

To assist in achieving this goal, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) is making funding available to support action by others to prevent toxic and nuisance algae by increasing participation in the application of phosphorus load reduction measures and in the promotion of broad uptake, application, and demonstration of new and innovative approaches.

Context: preventing toxic and nuisance algae

Nutrient pollution is a key challenge in Lake Simcoe, with excess nutrients from urban and rural sources resulting in toxic and nuisance algae. These issues are further exacerbated by invasive species and a changing climate which can contribute to degraded water quality and affect aquatic ecosystem health of the lake. Through the Lake Simcoe FEI, ECCC will work with partners to support targeted activities to reduce phosphorus loads to the lake.


An objective of the Lake Simcoe FEI is to decrease loadings of phosphorus to the lake and inform action in other freshwater basins in Canada. To assist in achieving this objective, ECCC is making funding available to support projects aimed at demonstrating innovative approaches, technologies and/or implementing best management practices and promoting their broad uptake and application by others. 

Geographic scope and priority areas

Funding will support projects within the Lake Simcoe drainage basin (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Lake Simcoe drainage basin

Lake Simcoe Drainage Basin boundaries
Map illustrating the extent of the Lake Simcoe drainage basin, situated in southern Ontario

A drainage basin, sometimes called a watershed, is an area where all surface water shares the same drainage outlet.

Eligible recipients

Applicants may include (Canadian organizations only):

  • Indigenous communities or their governments
  • Indigenous organizations or associations
  • Indigenous for-profit organizations
  • industry associations
  • non-government organizations
  • not for profit organizations
  • research, academic, and educational institutions
  • conservation authorities
  • municipalities

Provincial government agencies are not eligible for funding.

Types of projects eligible for funding

Project proposals focused on one or a combination of the following project types will be eligible for funding. All project proposals must include an outreach or knowledge mobilization plan to be implemented if the proposal is selected for funding. An outreach or knowledge mobilization plan outlines how the project will promote broader uptake and application of phosphorus reduction measures to a wider community and how information gained and research findings are communicated.

While several project types are eligible and will be considered for funding, priority will be given to projects focused on innovation through the development, demonstration, and/or implementation of new technologies and approaches for which lessons learned also have applicability to other freshwater basins. 

Types of projects Examples
Implementing and evaluating innovative and new approaches or technologies to reduce phosphorus loads to Lake Simcoe
  • Projects or studies that demonstrate improvements in the effectiveness of best management practices (BMPs) (e.g., studies that quantify the effectiveness of stacking BMPs in reducing phosphorus losses).
  • Projects that implement and evaluate approaches for phosphorus capture, recovery, and reuse from high intensity agricultural production, municipal drains, or other critical source areas.
  • Projects that investigate new practices or technologies aimed at reducing phosphorus losses from agricultural non-point sources and urban stormwater.
Implementing and evaluating the effectiveness of Best Management Practices (BMPs) and other approaches to reduce phosphorus loads to Lake Simcoe
  • Projects that implement BMPs to mitigate phosphorus losses in targeted locations (e.g., high intensity agriculture, areas experiencing high growth, urban areas).
Project exclusions

The following project types are not eligible for funding:

  • projects that are focused on water quantity issues
  • projects which are located outside of the defined geographical area
  • projects which are focused on increasing production (e.g., agricultural) or replacing worn out equipment
  • projects which are not in compliance with applicable legislation, including environmental legislation (for example: requirements under the Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act, Fisheries Act)
  • activities that are intended to directly influence and/or lobby any level of government
  • activities that are deemed to be part of normal operations of an organization/business or for commercial expansion purposes
  • wastewater infrastructure projects
Funding details
  • funding is available between April 1, 2024 and March 31, 2027
  • the maximum amount available for any one project is $150,000/year
  • projects may be multiyear in nature (up to three years)
  • while not required, project proponents are strongly encouraged to seek other sources of funding and/or in-kind project support
Eligible costs

Only costs which can be directly attributed to carrying out the project will be eligible for funding, including:

  • human resource costs, including salaries and benefits
  • management and professional service costs, such as accounting, monitoring, communications, official languages translation, audit and legal charges
  • travel
  • material and supplies costs
  • printing, production, and distribution costs
  • equipment and capital assets purchase or rental for the purpose of implementing actions
  • vehicle rental and operation costs
  • contractors required to perform activities related to the project
  • a reasonable share of overhead and/or administrative costs
  • any GST/HST that is not reimbursable by Canada Revenue Agency and any PST not reimbursable by the provinces
  • other incremental expenditures directly related to the project (as pre-approved by ECCC)

Costs, other than those herein allowed, are ineligible unless specifically approved in writing by the Minister of the Environment or his/her representatives at the time of project approval. For all costs, only those deemed to be a reasonable share for completing the project shall be considered eligible.

Selection method

Project proposals will undergo a two-stage review process:

  • administrative review by ECCC to ensure applications are complete and meet program eligibility requirements
  • project evaluation by ECCC against evaluation criteria. ECCC may seek advice on proposal submissions from external advisors with knowledge and expertise relevant to the proposal; however, funding decisions will be made by ECCC.
Administrative review

To be considered eligible for funding, project proposals must meet the following requirements:

  • all application sections are complete
  • the proponent is eligible to receive funding
  • the amount requested is within the funding specifications
  • proposal falls under eligible funding categories (refer to Types of projects eligible for funding)
  • actions described in the proposal will result in the reduction of phosphorus loads to Lake Simcoe and information gained will be applicable to other freshwater basins.
  • proposal falls within the Lake Simcoe drainage basin
Project evaluation

Eligible project proposals will be assessed on the extent to which proposals meet the following evaluation criteria:


Eligible projects will be assessed on the extent to which proposals meet one or more of the following:

  • the actions described in the project proposal will lead to increased adoption of best management practices (BMPs) or approaches resulting in reductions of phosphorus to Lake Simcoe
  • the actions described in the project proposal demonstrate an innovative technology, approach, or BMP
  • the actions described in the project proposal inform the development and implementation of nutrient management practices in other freshwater basins
  • the applicant commits to sharing results and data openly

Uptake and Engagement:

  • the project proposal includes an outreach or knowledge mobilization plan that promotes uptake to a wider community using new or existing memberships and networks. The outreach or knowledge mobilization plan
    • demonstrates how the project will promote action and uptake to a wider community to foster adoption of BMPs or innovative technologies or other approaches
    • identifies partner organizations that will be involved
    • outlines any partnership or engagement with Indigenous organizations or communities through project development and delivery
    • outlines the communities and / or networks that will be targeted or created, and how (e.g. through educational materials, events, technology demonstrations, social media, other)
    • details outreach activities and products, and timelines for these
    • describes the method that will be used to measure broader uptake

Project feasibility/likelihood of success:

  • the project proposal activities support the goals and objectives of the project
  • the project proposal’s work plan is realistic and achievable with measurable goals and indicators. The work plan:
    • describes how the project is relevant to achieving the goal of reducing phosphorus loads to Lake Simcoe
    • Explains how the project will be completed effectively and on time, including the techniques involved, performance measures, and the goals and timelines for each activity
    • Clearly demonstrates relevant, clear, and appropriate methods of achieving project results
  • the proposed recipient has project expertise and experience in this field
  • required permits have been identified and/or obtained

Phosphorus Load Reduction Calculation

  • a method to estimate phosphorus load reduction is included in the project proposal

Geographic scope/priority area:

  • the project occurs in the Lake Simcoe drainage basin

Value for money:

  • the project represents good value for dollars invested
  • the project includes cash and/or in-kind contributions from other sources
Description of the online application process and application sections

Environment and Climate Change Canada requires that applications to the Lake Simcoe FEI be submitted online via the Grants and Contributions Enterprise Management System (GCEMS). The GCEMS is accessed through the department’s Single Window system. For additional information on accessing the GCEMS through ECCC’s Single Window system, please see Appendix A.

The online Application Form for the Lake Simcoe FEI: Preventing Toxic and Nuisance Algae funding stream includes 9 sections:

  • Section 1: Tombstone Data
  • Section 2: Project Summary
  • Section 3: Lake Simcoe FEI – Toxic and nuisance algae (program-specific section)  
  • Section 4: Project Budget
  • Section 5: Project Work Plan
  • Section 6: Evaluation Plan and Performance Measures
  • Section 7: Other Supporting Information
  • Section 8: Official Languages
  • Section 9: Certification

In Section 1: Tombstone Data, provide basic information about your group as well as contact information for the individual leading the application.

In Section 2: Project Summary, provide basic information about the proposed project, including the name and location of the project, the project start and end date, the project goals/objectives, a brief general description of the proposed project, the experience of project team members and the financial and management capacity of the organization submitting the project proposal. If your project is approved for funding, the summary description you provide in your application may be made available to the public.

In Section 3: Lake Simcoe FEI – Toxic and nuisance algae (program-specific section), provide information about various aspects of the proposed project, including confirmation that it meets the three eligibility requirements as well as details related to results, uptake and engagement, the project work plan, the method of calculating phosphorus load reductions, the geographic scope and the project budget.

When providing your Outreach Plan, please ensure it includes details on how the project will promote uptake to a wider community to foster the adoption of BMPs and partner organizations that will be involved. Plans must also outline communities and/or networks that will be targeted and how they will be reached. Descriptions of outreach activities, products and timelines must be included.

In Section 4: Project Budget, provide the total amount of ECCC funding that is being requested for the proposed project, outline the project’s budget and give an estimation of its forecasted expenses organized according to a set of pre-defined cost categories (e.g. salaries and wages; management and professional services; travel; and, material and supplies costs). The estimated cost of all project expenditures should reflect fair market values at the standard rate for that product or service in your area.

In this Section, you are also required to provide details regarding the project's fiscal year breakdown. Determine the number of years of support from ECCC that your project requires (up to a maximum of 3 years) and indicate how the total amount of support requested (up to $450,000) will be allocated on an annual basis.

Finally, in this section you are required to indicate other funding sources for the project if applicable. Provide letters of financial/in-kind support for the project in the Other Supporting Information section.

In Section 5: Project Work Plan, provide details on the activities that will be undertaken for the duration of the project.

The Project Work Plan must:

  • describe how the project is relevant to achieving the goal of reducing phosphorus loads to Lake Simcoe
  • clearly demonstrate relevant, clear and appropriate methods of achieving project results
  • explain how the project will be completed effectively and on time, including:
    • project goals and activities
    • project partners
    • techniques involved
    • performance measures
    • milestones and timelines for each activity

In Section 6: Evaluation Plan and Performance Measures, provide details on how the expected results and successes of the project will be measured.

In Section 7: Other Supporting Information, provide further information relevant to the project that was not captured elsewhere in the application if needed. Please ensure any letters of financial/in-kind support are provided here.

In Section 8: Official Languages, provide information related to the need to accommodate official language minority communities with respect to the proposed project’s activities.

In Section 9: Certification, certify that information provided in the Application Form is accurate and that you, as the applicant, have authorization to sign on behalf of the group.

Other instructions

Applicants are encouraged to provide the details necessary to give a full response to each section of the Application Form but should be as concise as possible.

Please ensure that all sections of the Application Form are complete prior to submission. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed.

Applicants may include additional information or documents with their application (such as examples of possible products, photographs, maps, etc.). If submitting additional material, it must be clearly marked and referenced accordingly in the relevant section of the application. All such material must be submitted in accordance with the instructions found online in the Other Supporting Information section.

Applicants are encouraged to identify any additional partner funding and/or in-kind project support that has been obtained and/or that is being sought. Please note that while this is not a requirement, applications demonstrating other sources of financial and/or in-kind support will be scored favourably when evaluated on value for money.

Note: if you are unable to complete and submit your application via the online application portal and wish to discuss options, please contact

Deadline and submission instructions

Applications are due by 11:59 p.m. EST on March 22, 2024. Late submissions will not be considered.

Once departmental approvals in principle have been confirmed, all applicants (both successful and unsuccessful) will be notified in writing. If your project is approved in principle, you will be contacted to negotiate a Contribution Agreement, which outlines the terms and conditions of funding. Please note that the letter of notification informing that your project has been approved in principle will also be shared with relevant federal MPs. We will work towards completing this process within 40 working days. Please note that meeting this standard for the development of a Contribution Agreement is a shared responsibility and largely depends on you submitting all required documentation to ECCC officials in a diligent and timely fashion.   

If a Contribution Agreement is signed, expenditures made by your organization towards the project after the date of official notification and before the Contribution Agreement is signed may be considered for reimbursement.

Project implementation can begin after notification of project approval, pending the execution of project agreements or contracts where applicable.

For clarification on any of the above, please do not hesitate to contact

Appendix A – the online application process

Environment and Climate Change Canada requires that applications to the Lake Simcoe FEI: Preventing toxic and nuisance algae funding stream be submitted online via the Grants and Contributions Enterprise Management System (GCEMS). The GCEMS is accessed through the department’s Single Window system.

To sign in to the department’s Single Window system select your language preference on the welcome page and when prompted to choose a sign-in method, select the GCKey sign-in option. If you already have a GCKey username and password enter them in the appropriate spaces.

If you do not have a GCKey username and password proceed through the sign-up process to obtain your username and password.

New users to the Single Window system will then be prompted to enter their email address and guided through a process to create a user profile.

In order to gain access to the link that will allow you to navigate to the GCEMS, you must add an organization to your profile. On the menu select “Organizations” and follow the instructions on the web page that opens. Note that when entering the organization’s business number you may use one of the following; business number; GST number; charitable number/non-profit organization registration number; or First Nations Band number. Once you have added your organization, select “Home” on the menu to navigate to the webpage that contains the link to the GCEMS.

Once you have accessed the GCEMS site, click on the link “View funding opportunities” on the left hand side of the GCEMS “My applications” webpage. On the “View funding opportunities” webpage, locate the Lake Simcoe Freshwater Ecosystem Initiative in the “List of opportunities” table and view the funding opportunity information by clicking on the associated link in the “Action(s)” column. On the “View funding opportunity information” webpage, click on “Apply” to open the online application process for the Lake Simcoe Freshwater Ecosystem Initiative.

Information on how to access and use ECCC’s Single Window system.

For technical assistance with ECCC’s Single Window system, please contact

Information on how to access the GCEMS.

For technical assistance with the GCEMS, please contact

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