Yesterday the Ontario government announced its plan to protect the Great Lakes, using many of the recommendations put forth by Ecojustice and an alliance of Great Lakes environmental groups.
The announcement coincided with the introduction of Bill 100, the proposed Great Lakes Protection Act, 2012, and with the release of a draft Great Lakes Strategy on the Environmental Registry [Read about the announcement]. We found one part of the draft strategy particularly relevant:
“The Great Lakes are vitally important to Ontario families. They provide us with drinking water, quality of life, and prosperity. We need to keep the Great Lakes healthy now, and for our children, grandchildren, and future generations.”
Both Bill 100 and the draft Strategy are open for public consultation under the Environmental Bill of Rights until Aug. 5. In the fall session, Bill 100 will be going through the legislative process, with additional opportunities for public comment if the proposed Act is sent to a legislative Standing Committee for public hearings.
Bill 100 is devoted to the protection and restoration of ecological health of the Great Lakes and providing the opportunity for people to become engaged in that protection and restoration. The bill proposes to establish a Great Lakes Guardians’ Council to inform and advise on Great Lakes issues. It also requires the Minister of the Environment to establish a Great Lakes Strategy, which will provide specific goals, targets, timelines and will be reviewed on a regular basis (every nine years). Progress toward the goals will be reported on from time to time as well. Bill 100 enables target-setting and targeted initiatives, both of which are given legislative force.
On our initial review, Bill 100 and the proposed Great Lakes Strategy have adopted a significant number of the recommendations made by Ecojustice and an alliance of Great Lakes environmental groups last month. At Ecojustice, we have our sleeves rolled-up and our pencils are sharpened (or whatever the electronic equivalent is). We are ready to work with all parties to ensure the best possible protection for the Great Lakes ecosystem. I am optimistic that together we can tackle the complex and solvable problems facing our Great Lakes.