Climate change minister announces $1M in funding for 10 Great Lakes projects

Ten projects dedicated to protecting the Great Lakes will see just over $1 million in funding over the next three years, says federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna.

Speaking at a Burlington, Ont. news conference, McKenna said that this “new money” would be in addition to the $44.84 million already invested in the Great Lakes Protection Initiative announced back in 2017.

The projects, which McKenna called “local, on-the-ground, [and] practical”, will address algal blooms, wetlands to mitigate the effects of climate change, and will promote citizen science.

The issue of algal blooms has plagued Hamilton-area waters and large areas of Lake Erie. Blooms that produce toxins, like blue-green algae, are a health risk to fish and swimmers. And McKenna says that climate change is making matters worse: the blooms are spreading faster and further than before.

The funding will focus on projects aiming to tackle the problem, particularly in Lake Erie. Both the St. Clair Region Conservation Authority and the Essex Region Conservation Authority will attempt to reduce phosphorus loads to the lake.

John MacKenzie, CEO of Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, was also present for the announcement. He said that though the authority isn’t “local” to Hamilton and its surrounding areas, they still had a stake in preserving the Great Lakes.

“We’re connected by our waterfront and connected by our shared goals of protecting and preserving the health of Lake Ontario,” he said. The authority’s two projects that will receive funding include enhancing coastal wetlands in Toronto’s Tommy Thompson Park and a waterfront revival project.

Against a backdrop of Hamilton Harbour/Burlington Bay, McKenna gathered at the Canada Centre for Inland Waters with local Liberal members of parliament, including Bob Bratina (Hamilton East, Stoney Creek), Karina Gould (Burlington), and Pam Damoff (Oakville North-Burlington), for this pre-election announcement.

The group was joined by Chief R. Stacey Laforme of Missisaugas of th Credit First Nation for some opening remarks.

“We’re all in this together,” he said. “It’s not just going to be one set of people or one person or one government who does everything.”

Thousands of dollars in funding for climate action fund projects in Manitoba was also announced by the minister earlier this morning on Twitter.

McKenna will cap off her trip with a tour to Cootes Paradise in Hamilton later this afternoon.

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