Freshwater is our most valuable resource, and the local environmental agency is drinking in good news from the 2023 federal budget.
The Severn Sound Environmental Association (SSEA), an eight-municipality environmental protection partnership around the Severn Sound watershed, took notice of the clean air and clean water section of last month’s federal budget release.
In protecting freshwater, the Canadian government proposed to provide $650 million over 10 years to support monitoring, assessment, and restoration work in many of the country’s prominent water sources such as the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence River and Lake Simcoe.
“We were very happy to see the federal government’s commitment to investing $420 million over 10 years to help protect and restore the Great Lakes,” said SSEA executive director Julie Cayley of the amount within the larger announcement.
After reviewing the federal budget, the SSEA called the announcement “a big win for national freshwater protection”.
Tay Township, one of the eight partner SSEA municipalities, issued a council correspondence last month in support of a Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative (GLSLCI) calling on the government to financially strengthen its Freshwater Action Plan.
At the recent Tay committee of the whole meeting, Deputy Mayor Barry Norris shared the budget announcement as it related to the municipality for the benefit of fellow council members.
“We do have the $650 million – this is federally – protecting our freshwater,” stated Norris, who also represents Tay as an SSEA board member.
“There’s another $165 million for cleaner and healthier ports; supporting natural disaster resilience, another 31.7 million. Protecting species at risk, $184 million; supporting farmers, $34 million.
“(The) SSEA will be looking at capitalizing on a number of these initiatives that have been handed down from the federal budgets,” added Norris, “so it will be very interesting as we get to our next (SSEA meeting).”
Cayley told MidlandToday that the SSEA board and staff would work closely with all levels of government to identify how the Great Lakes investment would make a positive difference within Severn Sound.
“This year we celebrate the 20th anniversary of delisting Severn Sound as an area of concern,” said Cayley, “but with growing stressors like extreme weather events, development and growth pressure and new and expanding invasive species, we need to remain vigilant and continue to work to maintain and protect the water quality in Severn Sound.”