Bill to protect Great Lakes moves on to next phase

Last week, Bill 6, the proposed Great Lakes Protection Act 2013 passed a second reading in the Ontario Legislature. If passed, the act will ensure that the Great Lakes are cleaner and healthier.

Exactly how would it do this? Creating opportunities for communities to become involved in protection and restoration, setting specific targets at various geographical scales, and establishing a place where Great Lakes partners can discuss priorities for action are just a few of the ways.

The significance of an act that aims to protect the Great Lakes should not be lost; Ontario’s Great Lakes basin is home to 40 percent of Canada’s economic activity, and more than 80 percent of Ontarians get their drinking water from the Great Lakes, so there’s no question whether or not this issue affects a lot of people.

Currently the number of environmental stressors on the Great Lakes, which includes things such as coastal development, climate change, and invasive species, are countless. Last year a team made up of Canadian and American scientists released a comprehensive map identifying the greatest stressors on the lakes, which not only created a laundry list of items that needed to be addressed, but also led the researchers to conclude that the Great Lakes were dying a “death by a thousand tiny cuts.”

“Ontarians want Great Lakes that are drinkable, swimmable, and fishable. And our bill, if passed, would better protect these irreplaceable resources,” said Minister of the Environment Jim Bradley. 

Public hearings on the bill are expected to take place later this fall. For more information about the Great Lakes Protection Act, head to the Ministry of the Environment’s website