Today, Bill 6, the proposed Great Lakes Protection Act 2013 passed second reading in the Ontario Legislature.
Against a backdrop of scientific advice that Lakes Huron, Erie and Ontario are in decline, the purposes of the proposed act are to protect and restore the ecological health of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin; and to create opportunities for individuals and communities to become involved in the protection and restoration of the ecological health of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin.
The proposed Great Lakes Protection Act provides new tools to restore and protect the lakes, including:
- Establishing a Great Lakes Guardians’ Council as a forum for Great Lakes Ministers, municipalities, First Nations and Métis and other stakeholders to identify Great Lakes priorities for action
- Requiring that Ontario’s Great Lakes Strategy be maintained, reviewed at least every 6 years, and reported on periodically
- Enabling the Minister of the Environment, in consultation with other Great Lakes Ministers, to set Great Lakes targets
- Enabling targeted action on priority areas, following local discussion, through geographically focused initiatives, policies and regulation
Bill 6 has now been referred to the Standing Committee on Regulations and Private Bills and public hearings on the bill are anticipated to occur later this fall.