Thunder Bay·Audio

Thunder Bay Great Lakes conference looks to protect water

The future of the Great Lakes is on the agenda at a conference opening today in Thunder Bay.
The top three issues at the Navigating Change conference in Thunder Bay are the transport of energy products, oil climate change adaptation, nutrient pollution and the resulting algae blooms in the Great Lakes.

The future of the Great Lakes is on the agenda at a conference opening today in Thunder Bay.

Mayors from Canadian and US cities that border the lakes are meeting to talk about how to preserve and protect the waterway.

The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative executive director David Ullrich said the public should care about the state of the lakes.

“Fresh water is going to be one of the most important resources and issues throughout the 21st century,” he said.

“We're very fortunate in this part of the planet to have an ample supply, but most of the rest of the world is not so fortunate.”

Ullrich said climate change and the shipment of oil across the Great Lakes are the key issues that will be discussed at the conference.

He noted that mayors are relatively new to decision making with respect to the Great Lakes.

"Prior to 2003, mayors really didn't have a voice or a seat at Great Lakes decision-making tables so, in addition to the federal governments, the province and the states, the mayors are the most recent addition to these tables — and I think we've made our presence felt."

The mayors have been working collaboratively, Ullrich added.

"We've had an absolutely outstanding working relationship. We've never had a US-Canadian battle, a big city-small city battle or a Conservative-Liberal battle. Everybody is unified behind the importance and significance of this incredible fresh water resource."

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