Great Lakes mayors warn funding cuts will hit restoration efforts

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Denis Coderre, Mayor of Montreal and outgoing Chair of the Great Lakes and St Lawrence Cities Initiative

Outgoing Chair of the Great Lakes and St Lawrence River Cities Initiative, Denis Coderre, Mayor of Montreal, has shared his disappointment about funding cuts by Donald Trump, the US President, at its annual meeting.

“This has been a very busy year,” he said. “The Trump administration, for the remainder of 2017, backed out of its intention to cut funding to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, but we must continue the battle for 2018 and beyond.”

He outlined the urgent need to maintain funding for the restoration initiative to control and prevent invading species, particularly now that the presence of Asian carp has been confirmed in the St Lawrence River.

“Forty-eight million people depend on the Great Lakes and St Lawrence for their drinking water,” he said. “We are concerned for the future because cuts to the [initiative] would affect us all, from the port of Montreal to the waterfront restaurant in Windsor to the sport fisherman on Lake Superior.”

Mayors of the Cities Initiative have also asked the Canadian government to develop a more comprehensive strategy and framework for Great Lakes and St Lawrence funding. Given the area is a shared responsibility; the group is calling on both federal governments to reflect the importance of the resource in their budgets.

“The mayors of the Cities Initiative will continue working with the Government of Canada to develop a funding strategy for the Great Lakes and St Lawrence River to ensure their successful restoration and protection for years to come,” said Sandra Cooper, Mayor of Collingwood, Ontario, and Vice-Chair of the Cities Initiative.

Following the United States departure from the Paris Climate Change Agreement, the new Chair, Paul Dyster, Mayor of Niagara Falls, New York, reemphasised the increased role of cities in the fight against climate change.

“While the President of the United States has bowed out of the Paris Agreement, we are stepping up as cities to lead the charge against climate change,” he said.

The Great Lakes and St Lawrence Cities Initiative is a coalition of 130 cities from the United States and Canada representing over 17 million people.