Nancy Goucher, Water Program Manager, Environmental Defence
One of the first things the Ontario government did when it returned from winter break was re-introduce the Great Lakes Protection Act on February 18, 2015. If passed, this legislation would create new tools to restore and protect Ontario’s portion of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River basin.
We’re really excited about some of the new tools that are included in Bill 66, including:
1.Targets—If passed, the new law would allow government to set science-based targets to address the most severe threats to the Great Lakes. The bill specifically requires a target for reducing algal blooms, to be set within two years.
2. Great Lakes’ Guardian Council—The new law would create a forum for provincial ministers and stakeholders to discuss Great Lakes’ priorities, financial measures, and share information with the aim of improving collaboration on activities.
3.Geographically-Focussed Initiatives—This new tool would empower multi-stakeholder groups to develop action plans with the option of including new legally enforceable policies or other initiatives. The plans would address threats like wetland loss or nutrient runoff in specific geographical areas.
4.Community Empowerment—The bill’s grassroots approach creates opportunities for the community to take action, build partnerships, and have a say in Great Lakes decisions.
Over the next few months, Environmental Defence will be encouraging the public to learn about the government’s proposed legislation and participate in the discussion about the public consultation process.
For more information or to follow the progress of the bill, please visit www.environmentaldefence.ca/greatlakes.