At its 2016 Annual Meeting, held this week in Toronto, Ontario, the Great Lakes Commission (GLC) endorsed a strategy to further grow the $30 billion Great Lakes-St. Lawrence maritime transportation system, and committed itself to using its leadership role in the region to support the strategy. The GLC passed a resolution agreeing to establish a regionwide maritime careers portal, maintain an inventory of maritime assets, and help manage data and information to track implementation of the strategy, which was announced by the Conference of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers earlier this year.
The GLC also adopted a resolution calling on both the U.S. and Canadian federal governments to increase funding to complement funding from states, provinces and local governments to maintain and improve aging water infrastructure – including by supporting green infrastructure and similar technologies – and to better target funding based on regional risks and needs. The GLC further committed itself to preparing a comprehensive report on the state of wastewater, stormwater and drinking water infrastructure across the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River basin.
Delegations from all 10 of the Great Lakes states and provinces, as well as observers, federal, state and nongovernmental partners attended the Annual Meeting, which was held October 6-7 in Toronto, Ontario. The Honorable Glen Murray, Ontario Minister of Environment and Climate Change, kicked off the meeting with a welcome address focused on work to protect Ontario and other Great Lakes communities from the effects of climate change.
“The Great Lakes define everything that we are,” said Murray. “In Ontario, 99% of people live the Great Lakes basin and many get their water from the lakes. I am optimistic we can work together, building on our hundreds of years of friendship, to tackle this challenge.”
The keynote address was delivered by the Honorable Kathryn McGarry, Ontario Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry. McGarry discussed efforts to prevent the spread of invasive species, protect wetlands, preserve green space, and work together across borders to address these and other challenges.
“The waters that form our natural boundary unite us,” said McGarry. “We look forward to working with each and every one of you and maintaining open doors to make progress.”
The meeting also included panels on the changing global climate and implications for the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region, as well as on a regional economic analysis released earlier this year by the Conference of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers.
Additionally, the GLC re-elected Jon Allan, director of Michigan’s Office of the Great Lakes, as its chair. “I am honored to be re-elected as chair of the Great Lakes Commission,” Allan said. “The Great Lakes are a natural treasure and an economic powerhouse, and absolutely essential to the success and future of our region. It’s critical that the Great Lakes Commission remain a unified and powerful voice on behalf of the states and provinces and their more than 48 million residents.”
The GLC will next convene March 15-16, 2017 in Washington, D.C. Additional information will be available at www.glc.org.
# # #
The Great Lakes Commission, led by chairman Jon Allan, director of the Michigan Office of the Great Lakes, is an interstate compact agency established under state and U.S. federal law and dedicated to promoting a strong economy, healthy environment and high quality of life for the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region and its residents. The Commission consists of governors’ appointees, state legislators, and agency officials from its eight member states. Associate membership for Ontario and Québec was established through the signing of a “Declaration of Partnership.” The Commission maintains a formal Observer program involving U.S. and Canadian federal agencies, tribal authorities, binational agencies and other regional interests. The Commission offices are located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Learn more at www.glc.org.