New Great Lakes Protection Act, 2015 APPROVED

Update December 8, 2016 – A newly approved water regulation scheme for Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River returns Lake Ontario levels to more natural variability, while continuing to moderate extreme low and high water levels. This new plan takes effect in January 2017 and replaces an earlier water regulation system established in the 1950s. (CBC)

October 7, 2015Ontario Passes New Legislation to Strengthen Environmental Protections for the Great Lakes.

Click here for the news release and quotes from FOCA and the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change.

Click here for the Act.

From  an email received by FOCA on October 16, 2015 from the Minister:

“Thank you to everyone whose contributions have helped make progress on Great Lakes protection and restoration over the last few years. We have heard from many of you about the vital importance of the Great Lakes and about how proposed Great Lakes legislation can best make a difference.

It is my great pleasure to let you know that the Ontario Legislature has taken action to keep the Great Lakes drinkable, fishable and swimmable by passing a strengthened Great Lakes Protection Act.

This new legislation will:

• Help fight climate change, reduce harmful algal blooms, protect wetlands and watersheds, and reduce harmful pollutants.
• Establish a Great Lakes Guardians’ Council to provide a forum for discussion and collaboration on Great Lakes issues and priorities.
• Enshrine Ontario’s Great Lakes Strategy, the Province’s action plan on the Great Lakes, as a living document to be reviewed every six years.
• Help ensure monitoring programs and reporting processes are in place to improve understanding and management of the ecological health of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Basin.
• Support setting targets and create new tools to take action with local partners in priority areas on pressing issues.
• Require consideration of Traditional Ecological Knowledge if offered by First Nations or Métis communities.

This latest action – combined with our ongoing investments in Great Lakes protection – will help ensure that future generations can continue to enjoy the benefits of a healthy Great Lakes system.

We look forward to continuing to work with communities across Ontario on our shared interest in Great Lakes protection and restoration.

Glen Murray, Minister

Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) article on the new GLPA (Water Canada)

September 23, 2015FOCA appeared before the Legislative Committee today, to provide recommendations and to speak in support of Bill 66, the new Great Lakes Protection Act, 2015.

Icon_at_the_tableYou can read FOCA’s submission to the Committee here.

You can read the transcript of the presentation by FOCA to the Committee on Hansard, here (along with the other presenters).

The Act now goes for clause by clause review by the Committee, and eventually to a third reading vote, likely in late October. 

February 18, 2015 – Today the Ontario Minister of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) introduced the Great Lakes Protection Act into the 41st sitting of the Ontario Legislative Assembly.

FOCA was honoured to attend the announcement of the new Act in Toronto, along with other dignitaries and water advocates. (see quotes, below)

If passed, the Great Lakes Protection Act will protect the waters of the Great Lakes basin, and help keep to the Great Lakes Drinkable, Swimmable and Fishable, according to MOECC.

The Act intends to:

  • Help fight climate change, reduce harmful algal blooms, and protect wetlands and other coastal areas
  • Monitor and report on the health of the lakes
  • Bring people together to take action on priority issues
  • Build on Ontario’s Great Lakes Strategy  and Ontario’s partnerships with the governments of Canada, Quebec, U.S.A., and the Great Lakes states.

Have your Say!The Act will be posted on E-Laws Ontario, and on the Environmental Bill of Rights, for public comment until April 19, 2015.

Quotes from the February 18 announcement:

Minister Murray at the GLPA announcement, February 18, 2015

Minister Murray, GLPA announcement, February 18, 2015

“Today we celebrate the Great Lakes that are vitally important to the people of Ontario for our drinking water, quality of life, and prosperity. We need to restore them now to continue to enjoy their benefits for this and future generations.”
Glen Murray, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change

“A strong and effective Great Lakes Protection Act has the potential to reaffirm a provincial commitment to setting and meeting targets for the long term protection and restoration of the Great Lakes-St Lawrence waters. As a uniquely watery jurisdiction, Ontario has both the incredible legacy, and the obligation, to steward the waters of the Great Lakes basin for the continued prosperity of our communities, and for the restorative powers of our lakes and rivers.”‎
Terry Rees, Executive Director, Federation of Ontario Cottagers’ Associations

Great Lakes satellite image above:

Terry ReesNew Great Lakes Protection Act, 2015 APPROVED