Municipalities in northern Ontario support ELA

October 11, 2012(Thunder Bay) – Municipalities in northern Ontario are passing formal resolutions calling upon the Government of Canada to rescind its decision to cancel the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) program. The ELA is a natural outdoor laboratory established in 1968 that is unique in the world – it is the only place scientists can conduct experiments on whole lakes to understand and develop solutions to the emerging threats to our freshwater ecosystems and their fish populations.

Today, the Coalition to Save ELA, the Northern Ontario Municipalities Association (NOMA), Environment North, and MP Bruce Hyer held a press conference at City Hall in Thunder Bay to speak in solidarity about the need to save the ELA as a public science program, and to announce the movement by municipalities to pass resolutions calling upon the Government of Canada to reinstate funding for this essential freshwater research center and its team of top aquatic scientists.

“Municipal resolutions in support of the ELA have been rolling in from across northern Ontario,” said Diane Orihel, Director of the Coalition to Save ELA. “We hope that the federal government will heed this strong message sent by the local governments who truly understand the importance of the ELA to the quality of their water and the health of their fisheries.”

To date, 16 municipalities in northern Ontario have passed resolutions in support of the ELA: Atikokan, Chapple, Dorion, Dryden, Gillies, Hornepayne, Ignace, Kenora, Lake of the Woods, Neebing, Rainy River, Red Rock, Sioux Lookout, Sioux Narrows – Nestor Falls, Terrace Bay, and Thunder Bay.

The movement by municipalities to pass resolutions was spring boarded by a letter written to Prime Minister Harper from the NOMA, which represents the interests of 37 municipalities from Kenora and Rainy River in the west, to Hornepayne and Wawa in the east. In the letter, Ron Nelson, President of NOMA, outlined the importance of the world-renowned ELA and implored the federal government to continue funding the program.

The City of Thunder Bay was one of the municipalities that recently passed a resolution. The motion was introduced by Thunder Bay Councillor Larry Herbert, the regional representative for NOMA. “The Experimental Lakes Area should continue in perpetuity as a living laboratory existing in the environment in which we live,” explained Mr. Herbert.

The charitable organization, Environment North, who functions as a regional coalition on various environmental issues, has also joined the effort to save the ELA. “Environment North recognizes the unique importance of the ELA”, said Director of Environment North, Scott Harris. “We strongly support the Coalition to Save ELA, and the 37 municipalities of the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association that are rallying to its defense.”

Mr. Bruce Hyer, MP for Thunder Bay-Superior North, called upon Conservative MP Greg Rickford, to support the ELA today as he had done publicly two years ago. “Mr. Rickford should be working to reinstate funding for the ELA as a public science program, on behalf of his constituents in the Kenora riding, rather than regurgitating his speaking points from the Prime Minister’s office.”

The incredible support that the ELA has received from the municipalities in northern Ontario that have passed resolutions exemplifies the need for the federal government to rethink and overturn their decision to cancel the ELA program. If the decision is not overturned, its doors will be closed by March, 2013. Closing the ELA threatens the health of our fresh waters and fisheries, now and for years to come, in Canada and all around the world.

To view our Municipal Resolutions page, click here.

For more information, check out these links:

From left to right in photo: Ron Nelson (President, NOMA), Scott Harris (Director, Environment North), Diane Orihel (Director, Coalition to Save ELA), Bruce Hyer (MP, Thunder Bay – Superior North)