Governments of Canada and Ontario report
progress in restoring the environmental health of the
Great Lakes Basin
CNW Telbec, Press Release
Published June 11, 2005
KINGSTON, ON 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
Honourable Stéphane Dion, and Ontario's Environment
Minister, the Honourable Leona Dombrowksy, at a forum
of Great Lakes managers and stakeholders at them International
Joint Commission's 2005 Great Lakes Conference and Biennial
At the same time, both ministers congratulated community
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
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
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
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
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
Implementation of the Canada-Ontario Agreement is co-ordinated
Environment Canada and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment.
GOVERNMENTS OF CANADA AND ONTARIO MAKE PROGRESS ON COA
IMPROVE THE GREAT LAKES BASIN ECOSYSTEM
The 2002 Canada-Ontario Agreement Respecting the Great
Ecosystem (COA) commits the governments of Canada and
Ontario to work together and with groups and individuals
to ensure a healthy, prosperous and sustainable ecosystem
in the Great Lakes Basin.
The 2002 COA is a five-year agreement that builds on the
through previous agreements for federal-provincial cooperation
on the Great Lakes. It defines priorities, including the
clean-up of Areas of Concern (AOCs), responding to lakewide
issues, the reduction of harmful pollutants and increased
federal/provincial co-operation on a lake-by-lake basis.
The first biennial progress report on the 2002 COA describes
achievements during 2002 and 2003, and highlights the
roles played by local and regional governments, industry,
and community and environmental groups in carrying out
area projects that contribute to the protection of the
entire Great Lakes basin ecosystem.
Some of the highlights from the report include:
Areas of Concern
- In 2003, the Severn Sound area of Georgian Bay became
site to be removed from the list of Great Lakes sites
Areas of Concern - that suffer from environmental problems.
first to be removed was Collingwood Harbour in 1994. With
delisting of Severn Sound, there are 15 Canadian AOCs,
which Canada shares with the U.S.
- Cleaning up the waters of Severn Sound required the
both the federal and provincial governments, with strong
from local municipalities and the public (including the
Sound Environmental Association) over a 13-year period.
efforts involved reducing phosphorus levels by controlling
water and rural runoff, protecting sensitive lands and
habitat, and monitoring water and sediment quality and
- Thunder Bay Harbour suffers from many years of industrial
pollution and municipal wastewater discharge. While still
list of AOCs, major steps have been taken that include
approximately 60,000 cubic metres of contaminated sediment.
- Also implemented were storm water control improvements,
to replace lost fish habitat, and tree planting. The city
of three municipalities to receive federal-provincial
infrastructure funding in 2002-2003 to upgrade its sewage
Sewage Treatment Plants
- In addition to Thunder Bay receiving funding for upgrading
sewage treatment plant, funding was also provided to upgrade
St. Mary's River-Sault Ste. Marie East plant and the Detroit
- Progress continued in reducing the number of federal
PCB storage sites in the Great Lakes basin. In 1993, there
1,555 storage sites, but only 550 remained at the end
In 1993, there were some 25,000 tonnes of high-level PCB
storage; in 2003, that amount had been reduced by about
86 per cent, to approximately 3,854 tonnes.
Dioxins and Furans
- Dioxins and furans were reduced by 84 per cent from
baseline. Much of the reduction resulted from efforts
emissions from waste incinerators, iron ore sintering
steel manufacturers and pulp and paper mills.
- Also involved in reducing these toxic chemicals were
developed pilot projects involving public education and
in the Thunder Bay area, and Lanark and Leeds in Eastern
to end the practice of burning trash and garbage in open
These "burn barrels" are in use on thousands
of rural properties
and are the fourth-largest source of dioxins and furans
- The release of mercury into the Great Lakes basin
has been reduced
from more than 14,000 kilograms a year in 1988, to just
2,100 kilograms annually by the end of 2003. This is an
85 per cent decrease resulting from actions such as Ontario
regulations to ensure the successful closure of all the
70 existing hospital incinerators. New provincial standards
incinerator operation have also reduced mercury emissions
estimated 400 kilograms a year alone, from year 2000 levels.
- Also contributing to the success of mercury reduction
the Switch Out Program, which focuses on collecting mercury
switches from scrapped automobiles in an effort to keep
element out of the environment. Other efforts include
amount of mercury in fluorescent lamps and reducing the
mercury discharged from dentists' offices.
- Biennial Lake-wide Management Plan reports were completed
for Lakes Superior, Erie and Ontario. They describe the
the lake, causes of ecological impairment and actions
restore environmental quality.
- The Environmental Farm Plan Incentive Program supported
environmentally sound farm practices, including water
initiatives and farm buffer strips.
- The multi-agency binational Great Lakes Human Health
initiated to share health information among governments
agencies. Work was also carried out on the establishment
complementary Canada-Ontario Public Health Network, to
communication on human and environmental health issues
- Fish samples continue to be collected and analyzed
remediation efforts and to keep the public informed on
levels through the Ontario Sport Fish Consumption Advisory
Monitoring and Information Sharing
- An inventory of ongoing environmental monitoring programs
implemented to track trends and long-term changes in environmental
quality, ecosystem composition and function.
- Monitoring needs were reviewed for technical committees
the development and implementation of lake-wide management
tracking of harmful pollutant loadings and reductions,
assessment of progress in restoring impaired uses in Areas
- A system to share information and scientific data
government, organizations and basin residents was initiated.
new system, called Lakeviews, will provide easy tracking
access to diverse environmental information gathered from
out the Great Lakes basin.
- Signatories to the Agreement are the federal Ministers
Agriculture and Agri-Food, Environment, Fisheries and
Health, Heritage, Natural Resources, Public Works and
Services, and Transport; and the provincial Ministers
Agriculture and Food, Environment and Natural Resources.
Ontario's involvement in COA is co-ordinated by Environment
the Ontario Ministry of the Environment.
Copies of the progress report are available from:
Communications Branch, Ontario Region
4905 Dufferin Street
Downsview, Ontario M3H 5T4
(416) 739 4826
Web site: www.on.ec.gc.ca
The Ontario Ministry of the Environment
Public Information Centre
135 St. Clair Avenue West
Toronto, Ontario M4V 1P5
(416) 325-4000 or toll free 1-800-565-4923
Web site: www.ene.gov.on.ca
For further information: please contact: André
Lamarre, Director of
Communications, Office of the Minister of Environment,
(819) 997 1441; Mike Goffin, Director, Great Lakes and
Corporate Affairs, Environment Canada, Ontario Region,
(416) 739 4936; Art Chamberlain, Minister's Office, Ontario
Ministry of the Environment, (416) 314-5139; John Steele,
Communications Branch, Ontario Ministry of the Environment,
(416) 314-6666; To receive automatic e-mail notification
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