KENORA, ON – August 11, 2012 - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, accompanied by Greg Rickford, Member of Parliament for Kenora, announced Canada’s support for the establishment of a binational board with the United States under the auspices of the International Joint Commission (IJC) to oversee the effective governance of water quality in the Lake of the Woods and Rainy River watershed.
“Our government remains vigorously committed to protecting the health of the watershed of the Lake of the Woods and the Rainy River, a natural beauty and a source of pride to Canadians,” said Baird.
The new board structure will lay down the foundations of long-term ecological sustainability and economic vitality of the region.
“We get it. We understand. This is the fresh water issue that matters most to people in the Lake of the Woods water basin. I think we've heard from our political leaders in the Lake of the Woods region that this is an important process and new chapter moving forward,” said MP Rickford. “The Lake of the Woods is a key tourist attraction and a vital source of drinking water for three quarters of a million people who live in communities on or near the Lake.”
The binational board will also be mandated to develop the Water Quality Plan of Study to identify the scientific research necessary to address threats to water quality in the watershed, such as invasive aquatic species, nutrient enrichment and harmful algal blooms, which affect the health of the ecosystem.
“Ultimately, the goals for both sides of the border are the same: a sustainable fishery, a clean lake for recreation and restored ecological integrity to the Lake and watershed,” said Mr. Rickford.
The creation of the IJC-led binational board will foster increased local participation through direct involvement of the community, the First Nations, Tribes and Métis.