Niagara MPP pushing for Ramsar designation for Niagara River

CKTB - NEWS - Niagara River

A Niagara MPP is calling on the provincial government and provincial ministries to endorse a special designation for the Niagara River.

Niagara Centre MPP Jeff Burch wants a Ramsar Designation for the river.

The designation is part of a voluntary treaty signed in Ramsar, Iran in 1971 regarding conservation and the use of water-based ecosystems.

Currently, Canada has 37 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance, including Mer Bleue Conservation Area in Ottawa.

Burch expresses disappointment that although Niagara Falls, Fort Erie, and the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority have endorsed the designation some organizations have not.

Niagara Regional Council has deferred a decision from the planning and economic development committee to back the push and the Niagara Parks Commission voted against working as the lead nominator.

During the council meeting Niagara-On-The-Lake Lord Mayor Betty Disero said she could not support the resolution at the time, noting it was a great idea but, "...we have to see the impact to those people that live and would have to live with that designation on a day-to-day basis."

Fort Erie Mayor Wayne Redekop said he remains in support of the designation. "It's hard to imagine that those of us who think that Niagara is unique don't think it's unique because of its natural heritage features." He said people who live in Fort Erie, and in Niagara in general, recognize the importance of those features. "This Ramsar designation really is aligned, I think, with what our environmental objectives and strategic plans are. It certainly is in terms of the town of Fort Erie. We either are for protecting the environment, or we're not. I don't think we can sit and straddle that line."

In a letter to Heritage Minister Lisa MacLeod, Environment and Conservation Minister Jeff Yurek, and Minister of Natural Resources John Yakabuski Burch says, "Decades of restoration efforts by provincial, state and federal governments as well as environmental groups helped to significantly improve the quality and ecological health of the Niagara River we see today. That must continue for future generations."

Burch also points out there are no regulatory demands within the designation.