Mississauga takes on Trump Administration to protect Great Lakes

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Mississauga News by Rachael Williams – While the Trump Administration pursues a scorched earth policy against environmental protectionism, Mississauga council is fighting back.

City council unanimously passed a resolution requesting reinstatement of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) and the $300 million annual funding commitment from the United States.

Established in 2010 by the Obama Administration, the GLRI represents the largest investment in the Great Lakes in two decades. The fund is accessed by federal conservation agencies to target threats to the Great Lakes ecosystem, clean up toxic hot spots, contain invasive species including Asian Carp, and implement protection and restoration projects.

Municipalities bordering the Great Lakes contribute $15 billion annually to GLRI and have completed over 3,000 restoration projects to date.

In mid-March, the Trump Administration released its 2018 budget blueprint, which proposes to cut funding to the GLRI and shut down all associated work.

“As someone who loves the environment and cares about the future, as we all do, you look at what this Administration has done to environmental legislation … Trump has made the environment the enemy of the people,” said Coun. Jim Tovey, who put forward the motion at Wednesday’s council meeting.

Tovey represents the mayor and City of Mississauga on the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Cities Initiative (Cities Initiative), a coalition of 128 cities from Canada and the United States committed to the protection, restoration and enhancement of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.

With Mississauga’s waterfront revitalization in the works, protection of Lake Ontario is crucial to the project’s success and the long-term sustainability of the region’s precious resources.

 “We’ve got the opportunity to create one of the most beautiful human scale, publicly accessible waterfronts in Canada, but it’s not going to do us any good if the water is toxic,” remarked Tovey.

“Our message is loud and clear to the Trump administration and anyone who threatens our local environment: we will stand up, safeguard and fight back to protect the Great Lakes,” said Mayor Bonnie Crombie.

The Trump Administration is slashing a wide array of Obama-era policies on climate change, including lifting a moratorium on federal coal leases, paving the way for the excavation of fossil fuel. Trump claims the policies are an effort to bring back American jobs.

“It’s a really scary time we’re living in,” said Coun. Carolyn Parrish. “I don’t think people understand how frightening that man is and the damage he’s doing.”

The resolution also requests the United States government to resume the Asian Carp study and release the Brandon Road Study, both dedicated to keeping invasive species out of the Great Lakes. It will be forwarded to the White House and the Prime Minister’s Office.

“I think we’ll get it reversed,” said Jim Tovey. “It’s way too important not to try.”

(Photo: Vince Talotta/Toronto star)