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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Mayors Seek Help on Great Lakes

Regional | by Kevin Bernard  

Great Lakes St. Lawrence Initiative raises concerns at Queen's Park.

More than 20 members of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative from across Ontario are pressing for action on toxic algae in Lake Erie and Asian Carp in Lake Ontario.

As part of "Great Lakes Day" at Queens Park on Tuesday, group members met with Cabinet ministers and MPP's at Queen's Park to highlight the issues threatening the Great Lakes and communities that rely on them for water.

Huron-Kinloss Mayor Mitch Twolan who chairs the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative says the health and economic prosperity of Ontarians depends on the Great Lakes system.

Twolan says as stewards of the largest body of fresh water on Earth, we must remain vigilant, and  that takes both political commitment and resources from all levels of government.

The mayors highlighted the urgent need for action on the growth of toxic algae in Lake Erie and elsewhere in the basin.

In 2014, the City of Toledo was forced to shut down its drinking water system due to the presence of algae blooms.

The same bacteria has threatened drinking water systems serving Pelee Island.

Twolan says one cause is sewage treatment plants along the Great Lakes that are not adequate.

Meanwhile, this summer a number of Asian Carp were found off the shores of Toronto in Lake Ontario.

Asian Carp is an invasive species that poses a significant threat to the $450 million commercial and recreational fisheries of Ontario.

Mitch Twolan says joint action by the US and Canada, the Great Lakes states and Ontario must be stepped up and sped up significantly to meet this serious threat to the fisheries and the Great Lakes ecosystem.

Other issues discussed with ministers and opposition members include banning microplastics, supporting climate change mitigation and adaptation in cities.

The Cities Initiative is a bi-national coalition of over 115 mayors, collectively representing over 17 million people, who work together to protect, restore and promote the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence basin.


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