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Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Mayors Convene in Toronto


July 18, 2008 – Call on Federal Governments to Invest in "Cities as the Solution" to Protect and Restore the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.

Toronto (July 18, 2008) – Mayor Lynn Peterson and mayors from nearly fifty other local governments in Canada and the United States joined host Mayor David Miller in Toronto for the fifth Annual Member Meeting & Conference of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative (GLSLCI). The mayors selected a new Chair of the organization, urged federal governments to invest in cities to advance Great Lakes and St. Lawrence protection, signed a Great Lakes pact with the Province of Ontario, and passed a number of important policy resolutions.

"I am very pleased with all that we¿ve accomplished in Toronto," said Mayor Lynn Peterson, Incoming Chair of GLSLCI. "We've developed some clear direction for our efforts and further established the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative as a prominent voice for the Lakes and River."

Mayor Lynn Peterson of Thunder Bay, Ontario, was chosen as the 2008/2009 Chair of GLSLCI.  Mayor George K. Heartwell of the City of Grand Rapids, Michigan was selected as Vice Chair and Mayor Denis Lapointe of Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Québec is the new Secretary/Treasurer.

"I am honored to have been elected Chair of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative," said Mayor Peterson. "We have a big year ahead of us and I am eager to work with my colleagues from around the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence basin to protect our shared waters, and to make the municipal voice heard."

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. Proper investment by the Federal governments in cities and local infrastructure must be at the center of a bi-national strategy to advance the restoration of 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 David Miller of Toronto, 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 that local governments invest more than $15 Billion annually in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence, the mayors questioned why national governments were investing so much less than cities to protect and restore the world's premier fresh water resource. 

"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."

Cities were further established as equal partners in Great Lakes and St. Lawrence decision making when incoming Chair Mayor Peterson, and Ontario Environment Minister John Gerretsen, representing the Ontario Government, signed an agreement in which GLSLCI and the Ontario Government commit to 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.

GLSLCI members passed an number of resolutions at the conference, including calls for the creation of dedicated water and wastewater infrastructure funding sources by state, provincial and federal U.S. and Canadian governments; U.S. Congressional consent of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Sustainable Water Resources Compact; and renegotiation of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement with inclusion of local government as a key partner. 

The Town of Ajax, Ontario received the second annual Wege Small Cities Sustainability Best Practices Award, which is given to a community with a population of less than 100,000 as seed money for a Great Lakes-St. Lawrence project that balances economic, social, and environmental aspects and that can be used as a best practice in other communities.  Ajax received this year's Wege Award for the Town's outstanding efforts to improve their nearshore water quality.

Participating municipalities in the GLSLCI Water Conservation Framework were also recognized at the conference.  Through the Framework, which was launched in 2007, cities have committed to working towards a 15 percent reduction below year 2000 water use levels by the year 2015. Collectively, nearly half of the participants have already achieved a 7 percent reduction.

The 2008 GLSLCI Annual Member Meeting and Conference concluded with an invitation from Mayor Yves Lévesque to the 2009 Annual Meeting and Conference in Trois-Rivières, Québec. 

The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative is a binational coalition of 55 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 basin.

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Contacts:
Mayor Lynn Peterson, Chair             Nicola Crawhall, Deputy Director
City of Thunder Bay                       
  nicola.crawhall@sympatico.ca
Office: 807.625.3601                       Cell 416.432.2739, Office 416.463.4938

For more information, including media backgrounder, photos and resolutions, visit www.glslcities.org