At the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative annual conference in Ajax, June 13-15, 2018, Canadian and U.S. Mayors, Chairs and Councillors celebrated the strong, integrated relationship on the environment and economy that binds our two countries and the Great Lakes St. Lawrence region as a whole. The attendees cautioned against isolationist policies towards trade and environmental protection.
“As mayors in the Great Lakes St. Lawrence region, we represent a community of common interest, dedicated to the protection of our shared waters and our integrated economic prosperity,” said incoming Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative Chair Sandra Cooper, Mayor of Collingwood.
If the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence region were a country, encompassing Québec, Ontario and the eight Great Lake states, it would be the world’s third largest economy. It also holds 20 per cent of the world’s fresh water. Due to the integrated nature of its economy, both sides of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence region would be seriously impacted by the imposition of trade tariffs.
“The mayors of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence region are the keepers of the flame of our special cross border relationship,” said Paul Dyster, Mayor of Niagara Falls, NY and immediate past president of the Cities Initiative. “American Mayors of the Cities Initiative stand shoulder to shoulder with our Canadian cousins in the face of escalating rhetoric that threatens to damage 200 years of peace and economic prosperity in the region.”
At the conference, civic leaders announced the creation of the Mayors’ Council on Nature and Communities, an exciting new venture to create natural spaces in urbanized areas and contribute to national efforts to reach the UN Convention on Biodiversity’s 17 per cent natural spaces target by 2020. The initiative will begin in Ontario as a regional pilot, chaired by Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie, with vice-chair Mitch Twolan, Mayor of Huron-Kinloss.
The first meeting of the Mayors’ Council on Nature and Cities was held at the annual gathering of mayors and other advocates for the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence. At the meeting, member mayors agreed to identify existing protected spaces, create new ones, and determine how to connect them to better protect habitat and migratory pathways in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence region.
Also at the conference, a number of important resolutions were passed by the membership. For further details, please go to www.glslcities.org/ajax (external link).
“I am so proud to be part of the coalition and of the work that this group has achieved over the years,” commented Halton Regional Chair Gary Carr. “Representing over 17 million people in Canada and the US, this coalition of Mayors, Regional Chairs and Councillors continue to demonstrate their commitment to the long-term protection and restoration of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence.”
“I am pleased to have participated in some important discussions and decisions on moving forward on issues that are important to the Halton community, such as addressing nutrient pollution reduction, long-term water infrastructure funding and implementation support, and flood mitigation initiatives,” said Regional Councillor Sean O’Meara, who acted as Halton Region’s representative at the conference.
The Regional Municipality of Halton serves more than 550,000 residents in the City of Burlington, the Town of Halton Hills, the Town of Milton, and the Town of Oakville. Halton Region is committed to meeting the needs of its residents through the delivery of cost-effective, quality programs and services, including water and wastewater; Regional roads and planning; paramedic services; waste management; public health; social assistance; children’s and seniors’ services; housing services; heritage programs; emergency management and economic development. For more information, call 311 or visit Halton Region’s website at halton.ca.