The Great Lakes are vitally important to Ontario families for drinking water, quality of life, and prosperity. We need to keep the Great Lakes healthy now, and for our children and grandchildren.
That is why the Minister of the Environment, after consulting with other Great Lakes Ministers, and as may be required by Section 5 of the proposed Great Lakes Protection Act, 2012, has developed Ontario’s Draft Great Lakes Strategy and is seeking feedback from Ontarians in setting priorities for the Great Lakes.
Ontario’s Draft Great Lakes Strategy explains previous efforts to protect, conserve and restore the Great Lakes, what Ontario is doing now, and what our proposed strategy is for the future. It maps out goals that guide Ontario’s future Great Lakes work, and proposes actions under each goal.
A key element of the government’s commitment is a proposed Great Lakes Protection Act, 2012 (See EBR posting 011-6461). If passed, the proposed Act will create new tools to improve water quality and protect beaches, coastlines and wetlands. The proposed Act would help Ontario and our partners take action at the lake, coastal and watershed level, as well as basin-wide. Establishing and regularly reviewing and amending Ontario’s Draft Great Lakes Strategy would be a requirement under the proposed Act.
Ontario’s Draft Great Lakes Strategy supports the purpose of the proposed Act – to protect and restore the ecological health of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin, and to create opportunities for individuals and communities to become involved in its protection and restoration. Ontario’s Draft Great Lakes Strategy:
- explains why we need action on the Great Lakes, by identifying important ecosystem issues and socio-economic opportunities
- provides an overview of Ontario’s Great Lakes accomplishments and explains our current Great Lakes protection framework
- outlines key elements of the proposed Great Lakes Protection Act, 2012
- organizes future actions around six Great Lakes Goals to protect and restore the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River
Ontario’s Draft Great Lakes Strategy focuses on work to address immediate and anticipated stresses and threats to the Great Lakes, and to build on existing Great Lakes benefits and opportunities. The scope of Ontario’s Draft Great Lakes Strategy includes water quality, quantity, aquatic ecosystem health, climate change adaptation, and environmentally sustainable economic development opportunities. It also focuses on public engagement and empowerment, and on the science necessary to guide Great Lakes actions.
Ontario’s Draft Great Lakes Strategy is proposed as an adaptive, evolving document and the proposed Great Lakes Protection Act, 2012, would require that Ontario’s Draft Great Lakes Strategy be reviewed and amended at least every nine years, and reported on periodically. A nine-year review cycle would be aligned with binational Great Lakes reviews and reporting frameworks, helping to ensure that Ontario’s actions can influence and integrate with those of our binational partners.
Ontario’s vision is one of healthy Great Lakes for a stronger Ontario – Great Lakes that are drinkable, swimmable and fishable. To achieve this vision, the proposed Great Lakes Protection Act, 2012, would require the Minister of the Environment, in consultation with other Ministers, to establish Ontario’s Draft Great Lakes Strategy. Ontario’s Draft Great Lakes Strategy is intended to describe how Ontario will focus a variety of tools to take action to achieve Great Lakes Goals – through existing laws and programs, the Great Lakes Protection Act, 2012 (if passed), the Canada-Ontario Agreement Respecting the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem (COA), and other partnerships and collaboration with our many partners across Ontario and across the Great Lakes.
Ontario is seeking feedback from Ontarians on the Ontario’s Draft Great Lakes Strategy, and the priorities for action to restore and protect the Great Lakes. In particular, the government is seeking input on our overall direction and priorities. Does Ontario’s Draft Great Lakes Strategy address the most important Great Lakes issues? Does it focus on the right priority geographic areas? Are there other opportunities for Great Lakes protection, community involvement and job creation?
Comments on the draft Strategy are not intended to replace public consultation that will be undertaken on any potential legislative, regulatory or other policy changes.
This proposal was posted for a 62 day public review and comment period starting June 06, 2012. Comments were to be received by August 07, 2012.
All comments received during the comment period are being considered as part of the decision-making process by the Ministry.
Please Note: All comments and submissions received have become part of the public record.
The Ministry is concurrently consulting on a proposed Great Lakes Protection Act, 2012. The proposed Great Lakes Protection Act, 2012 will be informed by various opportunities for input throughout the legislative process. Please visit the Legislative Assembly of Ontario website for details (see link under Additional Information).
The Minister of the Environment has received input on the proposed legislation through a number of recent listening sessions as well as through previous engagement on the 2009 Great Lakes discussion paper titled “Healthy Great Lakes, Strong Ontario: Talking with Ontarians About Protecting, Restoring, Using and Enjoying the Great Lakes” (see EBR posting 010-6105). This discussion paper can be viewed through the link provided in this posting.