Mayors call on Canada, U.S. to build on local investments to protect
'greatest source of freshwater on Earth'
NIAGARA FALLS, ON, June 16, 2011 /CNW/ -Today, mayors of the Great Lakes
and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative called on the American and Canadian
federal governments to build on the U.S. Great Lakes Restoration
Initiative and local investments by making a bi-national sustainable
commitment to the region, supported by long-term funding.
"Protecting and restoring the world's largest freshwater resource and
source of drinking water for 40 million people must be a priority for
our two countries," said Mayor Brian McMullan of St. Catharines and
chair of the Cities Initiative. "The U.S. Great Lakes Restoration
Initiative should serve as a model at the bi-national level and create
a shared commitment which will require support through significant
investments from both Canada and the U.S. to become a reality."
Mayors welcomed the U.S. Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, under which
the U.S. Federal Government committed $475 million in 2010 for
non-infrastructure protection and restoration projects in the Great
Lakes region. On a per capita basis, that represents about $15 per year
for each of the 32 million Americans living in the Great Lakes basin.
"The Mayors of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence ask the U.S. Government
to continue its annual Great Lakes investment of $475 million into the
future," said Mayor Tom Barrett of Milwaukee and vice chair of the
Cities Initiative. ``Fifteen dollars per year is a small price to pay
for the enormous benefits that we enjoy by living, playing, and working
in and around the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence."
Investments are needed to respond to the enormous challenges facing the
Great Lakes and St. Lawrence and local communities. These include the
eutrophication of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, adapting cities to
climate change, protecting shorelines, and preserving wetlands and
other coastal habitat areas. This infusion into non-infrastructure
projects and programs would be complementary to major investments that
are needed to address the multi-billion dollar deficit for water
infrastructure in both countries.
"We call on the Canadian Government to match U.S. Great Lakes
investments on a per capita basis, committing $15 per year for every
one of the 19 million Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Canadian citizens,
or $285 million per year for non-infrastructure, local protection and
restoration projects," said Mayor Régis Labeaume of Quebec City,
president of the Quebec Metropolitan Community and Cities Initiative
Great Lakes and St. Lawrence cities on both sides of the border are
realizing significant returns from their investments in efforts to
protect and restore the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River. Cities
invest more than $15 billion annually to protect and restore the Great
Lakes and St. Lawrence.
"Our protection and restoration investments yield high positive returns
for our communities," said Gary Burroughs, Chair of the Niagara Region
and host of the 2011 Cities Initiative Annual Meeting. "Today we are
highlighting these returns to demonstrate why all orders of government
must continue to invest in this global resource. "
The returns from Great Lakes-St. Lawrence investments are real and
broad-reaching. The Brookings Institution found that for a $26 billion
investment in the Great Lakes, there would be over a $50 billion return
in economic benefits. In addition, the National Association of Clean
Water Agencies estimates that 47,000 jobs are created for every billion
dollars invested in clean water infrastructure. Municipal investments
have also shown great returns, in terms of economic and environmental
development and quality of life.
Milwaukee is redeveloping and revitalizing an old industrial corridor
located along the Menomonee River, now known as the Menomonee Valley
Industrial Center and Community. The $54 million project, of which
Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District are
investing more than $24 million, will ultimately create an estimated
1,075 jobs by 2012.
The City of Trois-Rivières, situated on the banks of the St. Lawrence
River, has adopted a goal of preserving one acre of land for every acre
developed, in order to protect the biodiversity of the region. In just
over a year and a half, the city has already preserved 316 acres with
rich ecosystem and biodiversity potential.
As a result of the City of Racine's North Beach restoration and
revitalization work, North Beach has not posted a beach closure since
2007 and the city can net almost $2 million per summer just from
overnight stays associated with two major sporting events that make use
of the beach.
The Municipality of Chatham-Kent and the Lower Thames Valley
Conservation Authority work together on the "Greening/Reforestation
Partnership" which includes an Annual Tree Program. As part of the
municipality's investment and other funding sources, three full time
and two to three seasonal positions have been created. Over 146 acres
of land has been naturally restored.
More information on Great Lakes and St. Lawrence cities` blue
investments can be found at www.glslcities.org/annual-meetings/2011/media.cfm.
The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative is a binational
coalition of over 80 mayors and other local officials that works
actively with federal, state, tribal, first nation and provincial
governments and other stakeholders to advance the protection,
restoration and promotion of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River
SOURCE Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative
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