Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Mayors Convene in Toronto|
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The following is being distributed on behalf of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative. A news release and backgrounder are copied below and available on the meeting and conference website via the following links: English Français
Call on Federal Governments to Invest in “Cities as the Solution” to Protect and Restore the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River
Toronto (July 17, 2008) - Mayors from nearly 50 local governments in Canada and the United States joined host Mayor David Miller in Toronto for the Annual Member Meeting and Conference of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative (GLSLCI). The mayors called on their federal governments to recognize municipalities as drivers of national economies and leaders of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River protection. As such, proper investment by the Federal governments in cities and local infrastructure must be at the center of a bi-national strategy to protect and promote the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence.
“Cities must be at the heart of a renewed bi-national commitment to protect and promote the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence,” said Mayor Miller, Founding Canadian Chair of GLSLCI. “Dedicated investment in Great Lakes and St. Lawrence infrastructure makes economic and environmental sense for the entire region.”
Armed with a recent survey showing an investment in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence by local governments of more than $15 billion annually, the mayors questioned why national governments were investing so much less than cities to protect and restore the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence. “It is no longer appropriate or accurate to view cities as the problem. Through innovation and investment, cities have shown themselves to be the solution,” said Racine Mayor Gary Becker, outgoing Chair of GLSLCI.
“With targeted investments to protect and preserve our natural resources, like those outlined in the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy, the Federal governments can unleash the full potential of cities to continue to address our national challenges,” said Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, who founded GLSLCI in 2003. “Make no mistake - an investment in the Great Lakes is also an investment in cities, which ultimately impacts all our national economies,” added Daley.
Thunder Bay Mayor Lynn Peterson, incoming Chair of GLSLCI, asked the Federal governments to partner with cities on an equal level. Citing the low level of Federal investment as compared with municipalities, Peterson said “we need the Federal governments to step up and match the $15 billion investment by cities so that we can achieve meaningful and long-lasting progress, while creating jobs and economic growth throughout the region.”
The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative is a bi-national coalition of 55 mayors and other local officials that works actively with governments and stakeholders to advance the protection, restoration and promotion of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River basin. The annual conference is being held July 16-18 at the Sheraton Centre Hotel (123 Queen Street West) in Toronto, Canada.
For more information, including a media backgrounder and resolutions, visit http://www.glslcities.org.
David A. Ullrich
July 17, 2008
THE GREAT LAKES AND ST. LAWRENCE CITIES INITIATIVE 2008 ANNUAL MEMBER MEETING & CONFERENCE
Over 150 government officials, business interests, NGOs and other stakeholders joined mayors for the Annual Member Meeting & Conference of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative (GLSLCI), from July 16-18 in Toronto, Canada.
With a conference theme, ‘Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities: Prosperity Vitality, Sustainability’, delegates and invited guests discussed issues including investment in municipal infrastructure, fluctuating water levels, protecting the St. Lawrence, best practices of cities, and promoting the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence basin as an important economic and ecological region.
Key speakers included Premier Dalton McGuinty, Ontario Environment Minister John Gerretsen, Ontario Natural Resources Minister Donna Cansfield, G.E. Canada C.E.O. Elyse Allan, United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard, Commissioner Sam Speck of the International Joint Commission, Toronto Mayor David Miller, and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, among others.
Highlights of the conference include:
• A call to federal governments to put cities and infrastructure investment at the center of their joint Great Lakes-St. Lawrence strategy; and
• The signing of a Great Lakes pact between GLSLCI and the Government of Ontario; and
• A number of important resolutions adopted by GLSLCI membership.
Call for Investment in Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Infrastructure
Mayors David Miller of Toronto, Lynn Peterson of Thunder Bay, and Richard M. Daley of Chicago joined GLSLCI mayors in calling on Canadian and US federal governments to put investment in cities at the center of a renewed binational commitment to protect and promote the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Basin. To be most effective, the mayors called for an ‘equal partnership’ in Great Lakes and St. Lawrence investment between the federal governments and the local level.
The mayors agreed that we must take advantage of a historic opportunity to make significant progress on Great Lakes and St. Lawrence protection, with the possible renegotiation of the Canada-US Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement for the first time in a generation.
GLSLCI, in collaboration with the Great Lakes Commission, released a report earlier this year that showed that local governments in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Basin invest more than $15 billion annually in Great Lakes and St. Lawrence protection and infrastructure, with approximately $4 billion spent in Canada and $11 billion spent in the US. It is this level of investment that the mayors are calling on the two federal governments to match.
Great Lakes Memorandum of Cooperation
Ontario Environment Minister John Gerretsen, representing the Ontario Government, and Thunder Bay Mayor Lynn Peterson, chair of GLSLCI, signed an agreement that establishes a strategic partnership between Ontario municipalities and the Ontario Government in collaborating on Great Lakes decisions.
Under the agreement, GLSLCI and the Ontario Government commit to establishing a process of early engagement and consultation with Ontario municipalities to provide strategic advice to the Ontario Government as it enters negotiations on the Canada-Ontario Agreement Respecting the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem.
Key Resolutions passed at the Annual Conference
A number of important resolutions were adopted by the GLSLCI membership at the conference, including:
• A call to Canadian and US federal governments to increase and introduce dedicated funding respectively for Great Lakes and St. Lawrence water and wastewater infrastructure;
• A call to Canadian and US federal governments to move forward with renegotiating a new Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement;
• A call on governments to ban the sale of water inefficient household appliances;
• A call for the US Congress to approve the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact to virtually ban water diversions.
The full text of all resolutions adopted at the 2008 conference may be found at http://www.glslcities.org.
David A. Ullrich