Government of Canada makes transformative investments to clean up and protect the Bay of Quinte and other areas of the Great Lakes
From: Environment and Climate Change Canada
September 28, 2023
The Great Lakes contain almost 20 percent of the world’s surface fresh water and are the source of drinking water for 8.5 million Canadians. Cleaning up legacy pollution caused by human activity in key hotspots in the Great Lakes, such as the Bay of Quinte, and restoring and protecting the lakes supports the health and well-being of millions of Canadians, ecosystems and the economy.
Today, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, announced an investment of more than $2.7 million over three years in 24 projects that will advance Great Lakes priorities under the Freshwater Action Plan. The new projects support region-specific actions to restore water quality and ecosystem health, with a focus on Great Lakes Areas of Concern, including the Bay of Quinte, which have been identified as having experienced high levels of environmental harm from pollution.
Minister Guilbeault made the announcement in the city of Belleville alongside Mayor Neil Ellis, Parliamentary Secretary Vance Badawey, and local freshwater and conservation organizations. The announcement included two new projects in the Bay of Quinte Area of Concern:
- The Lower Trent Conservation Authority will receive $276,000 to work with rural landowners and implement best management practices to reduce soil erosion and phosphorus loading in the Area of Concern.
- The Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte will receive $75,656 to support their participation in decision making related to the status of impairments in the Area of Concern as well as to support the planning and implementation of a community fish consumption survey.
Additionally, Minister Guilbeault announced that the Bay of Quinte is one of the remaining 12 Canadian Areas of Concern in the Great Lakes where Canada commits to completing all actions to restore water quality and ecosystem health by 2030.
Funding from the Freshwater Action Plan is already at work in the Bay of Quinte Area of Concern. Last year, Quinte Conservation received $115,145 to support the implementation of the Bay of Quinte long-term phosphorus management plan by providing critical water quality monitoring data. The Lower Trent Region Conservation Authority received $270,000 to engage the community and local partners in the assessment of impairments in the Area of Concern.
In March 2023, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced an investment of $420 million over ten years to accelerate the restoration and protection of the Great Lakes, as part of Canada’s announcement of $650 million in the Freshwater Action Plan to protect and restore freshwater bodies of national significance. Canada aims to complete all actions to clean up 12 of 14 remaining Canadian Areas of Concern by 2030, with all 14 completed by 2038, and meet Canada’s phosphorus load reduction targets for Lake Erie by 2039. Great Lakes priorities under the Freshwater Action Plan support the delivery of Canada’s commitments under the Canada–United States Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and the Canada–Ontario Agreement on Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health.
“The Government of Canada is making transformative investments to clean up the Great Lakes, targeting key areas of concern like the Bay of Quinte. Canadians are so fortunate to have some of the best freshwater resources in the world, but there is much work to be done to clean up pollution and protect these vital ecosystems. The investments announced today are part of a series of actions to protect freshwater in Canada within the Freshwater Action Plan, which also include the creation of a new Canada Water Agency. These collective efforts will yield long-term benefits for ecosystems, the economy and all people living in Canada.”
– The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
“Canada remains committed to protecting and restoring water quality and ecosystem health in the Great Lakes and across the country. Localized, community-based efforts such as these in the Bay of Quinte are critically important for freshwater ecosystems and for Canadians who depend on them.”
– Terry Duguid, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and Special Advisor for Water
“The Great Lakes are an extremely important binational resource shared between Canada and the United States. Today’s historic investment maintains the Great in the Great Lakes, promoting positive ‘triple bottom line’, that is economic, social and environmental, outcomes for the people and communities that rely on these interconnected freshwater lakes. We now look forward to working with our partners to align freshwater initiatives including the establishment and funding of a Canada Water Agency, the modernization of the 50-year-old Canada Water Act to reflect our new freshwater reality, including addressing climate change and Indigenous water rights, as well as the implementation of a strengthened Freshwater Action Plan.”
– Vance Badawey, Member of Parliament for Niagara Centre
“The Great Lakes sustain nature, the livelihoods of millions of Ontarians and many aspects of Canada’s economy, from manufacturing and marine commerce to power generation, tourism and food production. The funding announced by the federal government is critical, as it will help accelerate the clean up of long-standing contaminated sites bordering these lakes. In the face of new challenges like climate change, this money will also provide the foundation for protecting these vital waters for generations to come.”
– Mark Fisher, Chief Executive Officer of the Council of the Great Lakes Region
“The funding provided by Environment and Climate Change Canada will make it possible for us to complete remaining steps in the Remedial Action Plan and to support implementation of Best Management Practices as we work to remove the Bay of Quinte from the Areas of Concern list. This will help reduce soil erosion, resulting in reduced phosphorus entering the Bay of Quinte and local waterways, which improves water quality. The Bay provides this area with numerous amenities, everything from quality drinking water to the economic spin-off of a world-class recreational fishery. This funding will help keep the Bay a sustainable and valuable resource for future generations.”
– Anne Anderson, Manager, Community Outreach and Special Projects, Lower Trent Conservation Authority
“On behalf of Quinte Conservation, we are profoundly appreciative of the government’s investment and commitment to the preservation of our natural resources. Ontario’s Conservation Authorities are critical partners in delivering programs and services to help protect and conserve the Great Lakes for future generations. This funding will empower Quinte Conservation to continue our vital work in safeguarding these natural areas.”
– Brad McNevin, Chief Administrative Officer, Quinte Conservation
- Canada has over two million lakes and rivers and more inland waters than any other country.
- Today’s announcement of new partner-led projects supports action to:
- restore water quality and ecosystem health of Areas of Concern;
- prevent toxic and nuisance algae;
- engage Indigenous Peoples in Great Lakes restoration and protection.
- Since 1989, Environment and Climate Change Canada has funded more than 1,275 restoration projects to address Areas of Concern, completed in collaboration with community partners.
- Areas of Concern are locations in the Great Lakes identified as having experienced high levels of environmental harm. In 1987, 43 areas were designated through the Canada–United States Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, 12 of which were Canadian, and 5 of which were shared with the United States. To date, three of Canada’s Areas of Concern have been fully restored, and progress is being made to improve water quality and ecosystem health in the remaining locations.
- The 12 Areas of Concern in Canada where clean up actions will be completed by 2030 are: Bay of Quinte, Thunder Bay, Nipigon Bay, Peninsula Harbour, St. Marys River, St. Clair River, Detroit River, Niagara River, Port Hope Harbour, the St. Lawrence River, Spanish Harbour and Jackfish Bay.
- Canada commits to completing all actions to clean up Hamilton Harbour and the Toronto and Region Areas of Concern by 2038.
- Budget 2023 proposed a major investment in freshwater in Canada, including:
- $650 million over ten years, starting in 2023-2024, to support monitoring, assessment and restoration work in the Great Lakes, Lake Winnipeg, Lake of the Woods, St. Lawrence River, Fraser River, Saint John River, Mackenzie River and Lake Simcoe.
- This includes $420 million in new funding over ten years for the Great Lakes, announced by the Prime Minister, with a focus on accelerating Canada’s implementation of the Canada–United States Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.
- $22.6 million over three years, starting in 2023-2024, to support better coordination efforts to protect freshwater across Canada.
- $85.1 million over five years, starting in 2023-2024 and $21 million ongoing thereafter to support the creation of a Canada Water Agency, which will be headquartered in Winnipeg. The Government of Canada is planning to introduce legislation that will fully establish the Canada Water Agency as a standalone entity.
- The new Canada Water Agency is the federal focal point for freshwater, working in partnership with Indigenous Peoples, provinces, territories and stakeholders to strengthen collaboration on fresh water. It delivers key elements of the strengthened Freshwater Action Plan.
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Environment and Climate Change Canada
819-938-3338 or 1-844-836-7799 (toll-free)