At their annual meeting and conference, hosted by outgoing chair Mayor Denis Coderre, in Montreal, member mayors of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative called for Canadian leadership in protecting the lakes.

“This has been a very busy year. The Trump administration backed out of cutting the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative for the remainder of 2017, but we must continue the battle for 2018 and beyond. 48 million people depend on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence for their drinking water. We are concerned for the future, because such a decision would affect us all, from the port of Montreal to the waterfront restaurant in Windsor to the sport fisherman on Lake Superior,” said Mayor Coderre.

Mayors of the Cities Initiative also ask the Canadian government to develop a more comprehensive strategy and framework for Great Lakes and St. Lawrence funding. “Given the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence are a shared responsibility, both federal governments must reflect the importance of the resource in their budgets. The mayors of the Cities Initiative will continue working with the Government of Canada to develop a funding strategy for the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River to ensure their successful restoration and protection for years to come”, said Sandra Cooper, Mayor of Collingwood, Ontario, and vice-chair of the Cities Initiative.

Following the United States departure from the Paris Climate Change Agreement, Mayors reemphasized the increased role of cities in the fight against climate change. New Chair of the Cities Initiative and Mayor of Niagara Falls, New York, Paul Dyster said, “While the President of the United States has bowed out of the Paris Agreement, we are stepping up as cities to lead the charge against climate change.”

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The mayors also resolved to seek UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve status for the entire Great Lakes and St. Lawrence basin, a measure intended to draw international attention to the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River as a unique ecosystem of worldwide significance. The resolution encourages the US and Canadian federal governments to pursue creating one of the largest UNESCO Biosphere Reserves on the planet.

Mayor of Mississauga, Ontario, Bonnie Crombie said that “There is strength in numbers. Let us send a strong message to leaders in Ottawa and Washington DC that local governments are united in the protection and stewardship of a truly remarkable area, the Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River basin.”

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Paul Dyster, Bonnie Crombie, and Mississauga City Councillor Jim Tovey.

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