Great Lakes Protection Act
In 2012, the Ontario government introduced the Great Lakes Protection Act into the provincial legislature. The intent of the proposed Act is to ensure the Great Lakes remain drinkable, swimmable and fishable. The Act, if passed, would provide new tools for action at different scales – from setting broad direction to support the long-term ecological health of the lakes to facilitating more immediate, targeted action in priority areas under stress.
The broad purpose of the proposed Act is to protect and restore the ecological health of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin and to engage individuals and communities in achieving this goal. The objectives of the Act are:
To protect human health and well being through the protection and restoration of the ecological health of the Great Lakes- St. Lawrence River Basin.
To protect and restore wetlands, beaches, shorelines, and other coastal areas of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin.
To protect and restore the natural habitats and biodiversity of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin.
To advance science relating to existing and emerging stressors, such as climate change, that improves understanding and management of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin.
To enrich the quality of life in communities in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin through support of environmentally sustainable economic opportunities and innovation through environmentally sustainable use of natural resources
The key components of the proposed Act include:
Enabling the Minister to set science-based Great-Lakes targets
Establishing a Great Lakes Guardians’ Council which would provide a collaborative forum to discuss priorities and partnerships and share information
Outlining priorities and requiring the government to maintain Ontario’s Great Lakes Strategy
Facilitating consultation with local groups to establish Geographically Focused Initiatives to focus action in priority areas
Official commenting on the proposed Act through the Environmental Bill of Rights Registry closed on April 26, 2013. The Act passed second reading on October 9, 2013 and was referred to the Standing Committee on Regulations and Private Bills. Public hearings on the Act will occur later this year.
The Proposed Great Lakes Protection Act: www.ontla.on.ca/web/bills/bills_detail.do?locale=en&Intranet=&BillID=2718
Official comments on Act from the Great Lakes Protection Alliance: www.cela.ca/sites/cela.ca/files/898EBR-SubmissionBill-6.pdf