Canada-Ontario Agreement on Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health:
The Great Lakes are essential for life in Ontario and the surrounding region– 98% of Ontarians live within the Great Lakes Basin. GIO submitted comments to a public consultation on an updated version of the Canada-Ontario Agreement, which is designed to protect Great Lakes water quality and ecosystem health. GIO’s comments focused on the contributions of green infrastructure towards reducing runoff, pollution, and combined sewer overflows, as well as creating habitat for native species, sequestering carbon, and building resilience to a changing climate. GIO also made several recommendations for the implementation of the agreement, including:
- Allocate at least $100 million in Federal funding annually for implementing the agreement in Ontario, and 15% of infrastructure funds to green infrastructure.
- Implement a “consider green infrastructure first” policy.
- Set watershed-based, enforceable, measurable targets for reducing pollution from stormwater and sewer overflows.
- Maintain the important watershed-based work of Conservation Authorities.
You can read GIO’s full submission here.
Provincial Policy Statement Review:
The proposed Provincial Policies state “The long-term prosperity and social well-being of Ontario depends upon planning for strong, sustainable and resilient communities for people of all ages, a clean and healthy environment, and a strong and competitive economy.” This statement is supported by GIO as it relates to the key role green infrastructure has in preparing for the impacts of climate change.
Of note, GIO recommended that the Provincial Policies are clarified to ensure that goals such as housing supply increases and economic growth do not come at the expense of the environment. Instead, these goals should be promoted in balance with protecting and enhancing natural features. GIO identified several areas where where the importance of this balance was left unclear in the policies.
GIO also recommended 3 tools to help with implementation of the proposed policies:
- Updated stormwater management guidance for municipalities to help ensure municipal stormwater systems meet the goals outlined in Policy 188.8.131.52.
- Watershed planning guidance to support the implementation of Policy 2.2.1 whereby authorities are directed to plan on a watershed-wide scale – a draft guide was released by the Ontario Government in 2018 for public comments, but no further versions have been released.
- Guidance for municipalities managing wetlands that fall out of the scope of Provincially Significant as clarity on how municipalities can approach wetland conservation will be necessary to help ensure wetland health is protected.
To read the full response, you can find it here.