Photo by: Brenden Cowan
The St. Catharines city council is urging the federal government to provide more money faster to protect and restore the Great Lakes.
This follows the liberal party’s earlier decision to commit to investing $1 billion over the span of 10 years towards a strengthened freshwater action plan for lakes and rivers. This plan was released in 2021 during the federal election.
Despite this, St. Catharines believes that more financial aid is required to protect the waters. On Monday, Jan. 30, the city council requested the commitment of $1 billion in funding over the span of five years from the federal government. This would be drawn from the 2023 federal budget.
The binational Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative is also advocating for this accelerated funding.
The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative is a coalition of over 200 municipal and regional U.S. and Canadian mayors and local officials, St. Catharines included. Their goal is to ultimately advance the protection and restoration of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River. The initiative also works to improve infrastructure, programs and services while increasing investments that contribute towards this globally significant freshwater resource.
The initiative has declared that there is a “critical need” to invest in freshwater restoration and stewardship projects. Additionally, many are concerned about the cancellation of longer-term commitments due to potential changes in future governments. Inflation and potential recession could also impact the 10-year plan, as the government may look for ways to reduce spending.
The request to accelerate the funding to five years has been orchestrated by the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River Initiative. Along with St. Catharines, numerous other municipal cities and regions have agreed to fasten financial aid to save Canada’s water.
For example, Ajax, a city in the Greater Toronto Area and located on the coast of Lake Ontario, has also supported the initiative’s request. Multiple other cities and regions who support the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River Initiative have followed suit.
Despite numerous regions’ support towards the initiative, the federal government has yet to move forward with accelerating funding towards the strengthened freshwater action plan.
“This is an important initiative, I fully support it, but protection of the Great Lakes goes beyond just the federal government,” said Port Dalhousie Coun. Bruce Williamson in an article by the St. Catharines Standard.
Decisions made towards other waterways – such as Oak Ridges Morraine – that connect to Lake Ontario and other Great Lakes must be considered for protection as well.
For more information surrounding the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River Initiative, be sure to visit their official website.