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Great Lakes Article:

Mayors discuss Lakes cleanup
City leaders at Chicago meeting agree to work on pollution issues, invasive species
By Jennifer Lewington
The Globe and Mail
12/15/03



Toronto can push its urban agenda forward by working with Great Lakes cities on both sides of the border, Mayor David Miller said yesterday at the end of a two-day trip to Chicago.

"One of the positive outcomes was a little bit of the strengthening of the relationships," he said in a telephone interview about his first foreign trip since taking office last week.

Mr. Miller, who had lunch yesterday with Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, also attended a meeting there of mayors of Great Lakes cities from the United States and Ontario.

"We agreed collectively to work on cleanup issues affecting the Great Lakes, including invasive species," Mr. Miller said, adding that cities on both sides of the border are lobbying their respective senior levels of government for financial help.

"Cities are the places that get things done," Mr. Miller said. "We have to lead the agenda with respect to the Great Lakes."

At the meeting of Great Lakes mayors, Mr. Miller made a presentation on Toronto's major efforts to reduce the pollution that flows into city waterways when there is heavy precipitation.

The Toronto program, known as the wet weather flow management plan, differs from efforts elsewhere in that it tackles the issue on a watershed-wide basis that includes the city and surrounding municipalities.

"The city representatives here found that a model for what they might do in the future," Mr. Miller said.

He said he hopes to work more closely with Ontario cities on the Great Lakes because they share common interests in the environment, public transit and housing.

"That is one of my goals when we try to advocate for a new urban agenda within Ontario," he said.

Mr. Miller, an obvious admirer of Mr. Daley's can-do political style, said the two discussed their respective waterfronts and how each has responded to the presence of small airports on the water's edge.

In Mr. Daley's case, in a surprise political move that has sparked lawsuits since, he sent in a bulldozer to rip up the runway at Meigs Field on the Chicago waterfront.

In Mr. Miller's case, he won city council backing last week to revoke support for the construction of a bridge to Toronto island airport by a federal agency, the Toronto Port Authority.

While the federal government has signalled its support for council's decision, the port authority is in talks with the city on the implications of not proceeding with the island airport bridge.

Yesterday, officials from the city and the port authority exchanged information, but no resolution of the matter is expected for another week to 10 days.

After meeting with Mr. Daley and his officials, Mr. Miller said he hopes to boost economic and cultural ties between the two cities that already have a "sister city" agreement.

Mr. Miller, who has invited Mr. Daley to Toronto, also met with Wrigley Gum officials, who are planning a $17-million plant expansion in Don Mills.

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