Environment Minister Catherine McKenna visited Port Colborne, Ontario, on the shores of Lake Erie, today to announce an $8.95 million investment over four years for 36 projects aimed at improving the health of the Great Lakes.
Minister McKenna joined a group of Great Lakes mayors, students, First Nations, local media, and conservation groups at the Sugarloaf Marina to make the announcement.
MP Vance Badawey, from the riding of Niagara Centre who hosted the event said, “I am honoured that Canada’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change has travelled to Port Colborne to make this announcement. Those of us in the City of Port Colborne know that the Great Lakes are an environmental and economic powerhouse with tremendous potential.”
Stacey LaForme, Chief of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation welcomed the Minister, joking, “I got an invite to kayak with the Minister and I said, ‘no.’ I don’t know if you know, but the Minister is very at home in the water, and to have the Chief trailing so far behind the Minister would be no good for the Chief!” LaForme continued on with a water poem that he wrote for the occasion and spoke about the integral role of water in Anishinaabe culture.
Minister McKenna said, “I am really thrilled to be here to tell you about what we are going to do. […] These are local, on-the-ground projects that will protect and restore the Great Lakes, the water quality, and ecosystem health.”
As part of the announcement, Swim Drink Fish Canada will receive $1.8 million over four years to help a citizen-led water quality monitoring program and $600,000 will go to ALUS Canada to help reduce phosphorus inputs by restoring natural features on agricultural lands. Both groups were present for the announcement.
“I have a lifelong relationship with the Lake; I have farmed in its watershed for 40 years,” said Bryan Gilvesy, CEO of ALUS Canada. “For those of you who do not know us yet, ALUS Canada is a charitable organization that delivers a next-generation program in 21 communities across the nation. Today we are closing in on almost 1,000 participating farmers in six provinces that have restored or enhanced almost 20,000 acres lands that they manage and maintain and steward for the benefit of Canadians.”
“Water quality in the Great Lakes is an example of problems that we can tackle together with our community,” Gilvesy said.
“It is incredibly important to the future of the Great Lakes to have decentralized, community-driven programs that can react and respond to the issues on our doorstep,” said Krystyn Tully, founder of Swim Drink Fish Canada. “At the end of four years, Swim Drink Fish will do what we do what we do best, which is developing a new platform which will enable any community anywhere on the Great Lakes to have a routine water quality monitoring program and to deliver those results to their community virtually and in real-time, or as close as we can get with bacteria sampling so that we can have a swimmable, drinkable, fishable future on the Great Lakes and create a new generation of water leaders to take care of the Great Lakes,” said Tully.
A full list of the funded projects can be accessed here.