GOVERNMENTS OF CANADA AND ONTARIO REPORT PROGRESS IN RESTORING THE ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH OF THE GREAT LAKES BASIN
KINGSTON, Ontario, June 11, 2005 - Canada and Ontario have made major strides in improving water quality, rehabilitating fish and wildlife habitat and reducing toxic chemicals in the Great Lakes Basin, according to a new progress report on the first two years of the 2002 Canada-Ontario (COA) Agreement Respecting the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem.
The report was released today by Canada's Environment Minister, the Honourable Stéphane Dion, and Ontario's Environment Minister, the Honourable Leona Dombrowksy, at a forum of Great Lakes managers and stakeholders at the International Joint Commission's 2005 Great Lakes Conference and Biennial meeting.
At the same time, both ministers congratulated community and agency partners who collaborated in developing a sediment management strategy for the Cornwall waterfront, which was also introduced at the forum.
"Through agreements such as COA, we are continuing to build on past successes in restoring the environment of the Great Lakes basin," said Minister Dion. "The Cornwall Sediment Strategy is a leading-edge partnership and illustrates our common pursuit and continued commitment to a sustainable development."
"COA's success is due in large part to a tremendous commitment to co-operation," said Minister Dombrowsky. "The Cornwall Sediment Strategy is a unique collaboration between governments, environmental groups and academics, which perfectly illustrates how well the partnership approach is working."
The Cornwall Sediment Strategy calls for contaminated sediments along the waterfront to be left undisturbed to allow natural recovery to continue. The strategy was developed after 30 years of environmental data showed that the mercury-contaminated sediments are stable and pose no risk to people or the environment.
A group of seven agencies from four levels of government (municipal, provincial, federal and First Nations) are committed to an ongoing and active role in implementing the strategy. In addition, Environment Canada and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment have established a long-term monitoring program to ensure the strategy remains effective.
COA is a five-year agreement that builds on more than 30 years of collaboration between the governments of Canada and Ontario in addressing Great Lakes issues. The COA outlines how the two governments will continue to work together to focus efforts and help clean up the Great Lakes basin ecosystem.
Implementation of the Canada-Ontario Agreement is co-ordinated by Environment Canada and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment.