KENORA — The ELA is in danger of closing. “People in Northern Ontario are extremely concerned,” said Independent MP Bruce Hyer (Thunder Bay-Superior North). “There are only weeks left for the Conservative government to find a suitable operator to take over our Experimental Lakes Area, before we lose it forever. This world-renowned research facility is a source of pride for our region, responsible for breakthroughs that have helped prevent acid rain and phosphate pollution, amongst many others.”
Residents of Northwestern Ontario gathered with scientists in Kenora, Sioux Lookout and Dryden today on “Save ELA Day” to hold public meetings on stopping the federal government’s announced closure of the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA).
ELA in danger of closing
Greg Rickford, the Kenora MP was contacted for comment but has not yet responded.
Hyer comments, “As many as 16 municipalities in Northern Ontario have passed resolutions calling on the federal government to reverse its decision to close the ELA : Ignace, Dryden, Kenora, Lake of the Woods, Atikokan, Chapple, Dorion, Gillies, Hornepayne, Neebing, Rainy River, Red Rock, Sioux Lookout, Sioux Narrows–Nestor Falls, Terrace Bay, and Thunder Bay.”
Hyer was in Kenora for a 5:30 pm ELA dinner and meeting at Knox United Church, where he added: “I know Kenora MP Greg Rickford was invited to the last meeting his constituents held on the ELA, but declined to attend. He has also refused to introduce their petitions on the ELA in Parliament. I hope he changes his attitude and accepts their invite to tonight’s public meeting.”
Rickford was in Toronto on Monday presenting a speech to the PDAC. There are some in Northwestern Ontario, from Mayors down wondering about Rickford’s focus on Northwestern Ontario. Some Mayors have reported that they asked Rickford ‘Where have you been?’ at the PDAC Convention.
“Canada’s ELA is the most innovative water research facility in the world, and if we lose it, we lose our ability to predict human impacts on lake ecosystems and prevent damage.” said Dr. Jules Blais, President of the Society of Canadian Limnologists. “The Canadian government is terminating a 44 year monitoring record for air and water at a time when the environment is experiencing unprecedented impacts from climate warming, invasive species, and toxic chemicals like mercury. It’s our hope that these efforts in Kenora will help persuade the government to finally listen to Canadians and scientists alike, and not abandon its investment in ELA.”
“The whole ELA situation is a poster child of what is wrong with governance based on ideology rather than reason,” said Hyer. “It illustrates today’s excessive party control and how MPs can represent Conservative interests to their constituents rather than constituents’ interests in Ottawa. It’s also penny-wise and pound foolish: paying up to $50 million to close a $2 million per year facility – and in the process costing taxpayers and industry billions for future legal claims, environmental cleanups, and health costs. Finally, closing the ELA is Exhibit A in the government’s assault on reason, killing any science that is inconvenient. You simply can’t run a country by sticking your head in the sand.”