Mayors seek greater voice in Great Lakes/St. Lawrence issues

Ann Arbor, Mich. — Mayors of the coastal communities throughout the binational Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region came to St. Catharines, Ontario, this week to assert an more active role in the protection and management of the great natural resource at their shores.

The mayors, gathered for the 17th annual conference of the International Association of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Mayors, directed the organization to pursue an increased advocacy role on their behalf in both Washington, D.C. and Ottawa, Ontario. Noting that the need for mayoral and municipal leadership on regional issues has never been greater, they asked the organization to provide them with an enhanced capacity to coordinate, research and advance their shared priorities.

“As those who live on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence, the health, happiness and fortunes of our communities and residents are directly affected by policy decisions regarding these resources,” said St. Catharines Mayor Tim Rigby, the conference co-host. “It’s imperative that we work together to ensure that we step up and make sure our voices are heard when making these decisions.”

Rigby’s co-host was Mayor Richard M. Daley of Chicago, site of next year’s conference. Delegates represented all eight Great Lakes states and the two Canadian provinces bordering the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence system. The meeting brought together policymakers and opinion leaders from throughout the region to address such issues as environmental restoration, water demand, waterfront renewal, maritime transportation, homeland security and more.

Among the meeting highlights, the mayors urged the governments of Canada and the United States to formally request that the International Joint Commission address the growing crisis presented by aquatic alien invasive species and to coordinate efforts to stop this ongoing threat to the biology and economy of the Great Lakes.

The mayors also:

  • Called upon the U.S. Congress to promptly enact the National Aquatic Invasive Species Act of 2003 and urged the cities and towns of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region to adopt local ordinances banning the import, sale or possession of aquatic invasive species such as the Asian carp;
  • Urged the governments of the United States and Canada to give due consideration to planning and investment in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence transportation system, noting the environmental, economic and safety advantages offered by maritime transportation;
  • Called for a large-scale binational initiative to promote environmental quality and economic prosperity through sustainable land-use practices.

As the world’s largest freshwater system, the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence system is gaining recognition as not only a one-of-a-kind natural resource, but also an economic force of global proportion. The system defines the recreational, commercial and cultural identities of hundreds of communities in the United States and Canada, and fuels the multibillion dollar regional economy of the North American midcontinent.

The International Association of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Mayors was formed 17 years ago to address areas of common interest to coastal municipalities on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River, and to act as an effective advocate for policy development at the state and national levels. Over the years the coalition has tackled many challenging issues such as beach closings, fish advisories, invasive species, waterfront land use, stormwater management, and water and air quality.

Led by a mayoral board of directors, the Association is staffed by the St. Lawrence Economic Development Council of Québec City, Québec, and the binational Great Lakes Commission based in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

For more on the International Association of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Mayors, see projects.glc.org/mayors. The full text of resolutions adopted at the conference is available at projects.glc.org/mayors/resolutions/.

Contacts: Claude Mailloux, St. Lawrence Economic Development Council, 418-648-4572, mailloux@clic.net; Brock Dickinson, City of St. Catharines, 905-688-5601; or Steve Thorp, Great Lakes Commission 734-971-9135, sthorp@glc.org

International Association of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Mayors

In Canada:
Mayors’ Conference Secretariat
Coordinator: Claude Mailloux
271 Rue de l’Estuaire
P.O. Box 2268
Québec City, Québec
G1K 7P7
Phone: 418/648.4674
Fax: 418/648.4627
In the United States:
Great Lakes Commission
Contact: Steve Thorp
Eisenhower Corporate Park
2805 S. Industrial Hwy, Suite 100
Ann Arbor, MI 48103-4816
Phone: 734/971.9135
Fax: 734/971.9150
E-Mail: sthorp@glc.org

For immediate release: June 24, 2003
Contact: Claude Mailloux, mailloux@clic.net, office: 418-648-4572

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