Feds invest in Thunder Bay’s water quality

by Steve Galea | December 18, 2023

A significant federal government investment meant to restore water quality and ecosystem health in the Thunder Bay area was announced on Oct. 10.

Minister of Indigenous Services Patty Hajdu announced $663,500 in funding under the Freshwater Action Plan for six projects to support actions on behalf of Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change.

They are:

  • $230,000 for Lakehead University to restore riparian and coastal habitat for fish and wildlife in the Thunder Bay Area of Concern, as well as build features to filter stormwater before it reaches Lake Superior.
  • $108,500 for Lakehead University to implement the Thunder Bay Area of Concern Wildlife Habitat Strategy and facilitate community engagement.
  • $146,000 for the Bare Point Restoration Co. to complete engineering design specifications and start site preparation for constructing a new wetland complex and restoring a cold-water creek system near the former Superior Fine Papers property.
  • $40,000 for the Fort William First Nation to naturalize and stabilize shoreline habitat by planting trees and shrubs in the Grand Point and the Kaministiquia River areas.
  • $54,000 for the Lakehead Region Conservation Authority to conduct riparian habitat rehabilitation, invasive species management, and create meadow habitat at the “Redwood site” of the Neebing-McIntyre Floodway Corridor.
  • $85,000 for the North Shore Steelhead Association to complete modifications to the Current River fishway/fish ladder to optimize its performance and improve fish movement between Thunder Bay and upstream fish habitat.

These are six of 24 projects recently funded under the Great Lakes Freshwater Ecosystem Initiative, part of the Government of Canada’s 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, complete all 14 by 2038, and meet Canada’s phosphorus load reduction targets for Lake Erie by 2039.

Dr. Robert Stewart, Associate Professor, Geography and Environment, Lakehead University said, “With tremendous community partnerships and committed local champions, combined with strong financial support from Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Great Lakes Freshwater Ecosystem Initiative, the Thunder Bay Area of Concern is embarking on a decadal restoration strategy that integrates wildlife habitat and ecological service restoration into waterfront redevelopment and public access.

We are hoping this initiative and capacity is only the beginning of a culture of restoration on the Big Lake and the final stages required to delist Thunder Bay as an Area of Concern.”

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