Organizations which work to protect Lake Superior are benefitting from an injection of multi-year funding from the province as part of a larger $6 million initiative to protect, conserve, and restore the Great Lakes.
The Ontario government has announced 30 “science on the ground” projects so far, which aim to address a variety of challenges. Some will help reduce plastic litter, excess nutrients, and road salt from entering lakes, rivers and streams; advance climate resiliency; and make significant progress on restoring environmentally degraded areas of the Great Lakes. The Lake Superior projects centre on fish habitats and invasive species.
“Our government is continuing to work with partners to ensure Ontario’s Great Lakes are protected,” said David Piccini, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. “We’re very proud to be supporting projects that will improve water quality, reduce plastic and salt pollution, and increase collaboration with farmers, Indigenous organizations, and communities to help improve the Great Lakes.”
The projects are led by community groups, not-for-profits, conservation authorities, universities and Indigenous organizations and communities across the province and support commitments in the Canada-Ontario Agreement on Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health and Ontario’s Great Lakes Strategy.
Areas of Concern are geographic areas within the Great Lakes where severe degradation of the environment has occurred due to human activities.
According to the Government of Canada, Thunder Bay was designated as an Area of Concern (AOC) in 1987 under the Canada-U.S. Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Years of contamination — primarily from the forest products industry, as well as from waste disposal, urbanization, and changes to the watercourse — led to the degraded water quality and environmental health.
Some of the projects announced so far for Lake Superior are:
- The Lakehead Region Conservation Authority received $40,000 from the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry (MNDMNRF) to restore the shoreline in the Thunder Bay Area of Concern, carrying out stream restoration and wetland rehabilitation in order to restore habitats, reduce beneficial use impairments, and delist the Area of Concern.
- Lakehead University received $25,000 from the MNDMNRF to rehabilitate habitat in the Thunder Bay Area of Concern to address fish and wildlife-related beneficial use impairments, specifically to increase aquatic and terrestrial habitat by rehabilitating and protecting environments and shoreline restoration to delist the Area of Concern.
- The North Shore Steelhead Association received $15,000 from the MNDMNRF to rehabilitate fish habitat in Birch Beach Creek, Thunder Bay, to provide upstream fish passage through creating permanent connectivity to this tributary.
- The EcoSuperior Environment Programs received $162,000 from the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) to deliver local actions and engagement to advance the Lake Superior Lakewide Action and Management Plan. Key actions will address climate change, harmful pollutants, stormwater management and emerging threats (i.e., plastics) to advance the Lake Superior Lakewide Action and Management Plan (LAMP).
- Lakehead University received $175,000 from the MECP to continue ongoing collaborative work to restore impairments to the Great Lakes and make progress towards delisting the Areas of Concern in Lake Superior. Work includes making progress on key clean up actions by creating a management plan for mercury-contaminated sediments and creating a local fish and wildlife habitat strategy.
For a full list of projects, visit www.ontario.ca/page/protecting-great-lakes#section-6.