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.