THUNDER BAY – Ontario’s beaches and coastlines and those who love them will benefit from closer collaboration between the province and municipalities on the Great Lakes. “Ontario values its partnership with municipalities in working to protect the Great Lakes. This is a critical year to gather input from our municipal partners as we start to work with our federal partners to develop the next Canada-Ontario Agreement. We want to make sure that the municipal voice is reflected in the next agreement,” states John Gerretsen, Ontario Minister of the Environment.
That is one of the outcomes of a ministers and mayors summit on the Great Lakes held at Ontario Place today and co-hosted by the province and Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative. Ontario Minister of Environment, John Gerretsen, Ontario Minister of Natural Resources, Linda Jeffrey, and Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Carol Mitchell met with eight Ontario Great Lakes mayors.
The ministers and mayors agreed to work together to protect the health of beaches and coastal areas. They will create a new provincial-municipal beaches and coastal areas network to bring experts together to share information and best management practices.
Provincial and municipal investments in wastewater infrastructure improvements will also improve water quality and the health of beaches and coasts. Ontario Great Lakes municipalities invest more than $900 million annually in wastewater infrastructure. Ontario has committed an additional $653 million since 2007.
The province and the Cities Initiative are also working on two joint wastewater and stormwater projects designed to update sewage bypass and overflow requirements, and to assist municipalities to reduce the amount of stormwater entering the lakes.
The ministers and mayors renewed a two year collaborative Memorandum of Cooperation to discuss Great Lakes priorities including the Canada-Ontario Agreement Respecting the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem. The province will consider municipal concerns when negotiating a new agreement with the federal government.
“In the City of Thunder Bay, we have invested over 100 million dollars in significant new upgrades to our waste water treatment plant, and collection systems which will help protect Lake Superior,” stated Lynn Peterson, the Mayor of Thunder Bay.
“Ontario values its partnership with municipalities in working to protect the Great Lakes. This is a critical year to gather input from our municipal partners as we start to work with our federal partners to develop the next Canada-Ontario Agreement. We want to make sure that the municipal voice is reflected in the next agreement,” states John Gerretsen, Ontario Minister of the Environment.
“Maintaining the quality of the Great Lakes, including the ecosystems and economies they support, is a responsibility Ontario shares with partners including cities in the United States and Canada. Through the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, Ontario is helping build a healthy and sustainable future. The Great Lakes are a precious natural resource and the partnerships we form will help maintain and enhance this resource for future generations.”
- 98 per cent of Ontarians call the watersheds of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River home, most situated along the shorelines in eight of Canada’s largest cities.
- Over 70 per cent of Ontarians get their drinking water directly from the lakes.
- 95 per cent of Ontario’s farm cash receipts come from the Great Lakes region.
- Over $7-billion annually is injected into Ontario’s economy from Great Lakes fishing and shipping.
- The Great Lakes Basin ecosystem is home to more than 3,500 species of plants and animals, some of which are found no where else on earth.
- Ontario has more than 200 Great Lakes beaches and thousands of kilometres of mainland and island coastlines.