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Paine joins US, Canadian mayors for Great Lakes conference

Member mayors of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, including Superior Mayor Jim Paine, meets for the annual meeting and conference, hosted by outgoing chairman, Mayor Denis Coderre in Montreal.

"This has been a very busy year. The Trump administration backed out of cutting the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative for the remainder of 2017, but we must continue the battle for 2018 and beyond. Forty-eight million people depend on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence for their drinking water. We are concerned for the future because such a decision would affect us all, from the port of Montreal to the waterfront restaurant in Windsor to the sport fisherman on Lake Superior," declared Mayor Coderre."

Mayors of the Cities Initiative also ask the Canadian government to develop a more comprehensive strategy and framework for Great Lakes and St. Lawrence funding.

"Given the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence are a shared responsibility, both federal governments must reflect the importance of the resource in their budgets. The mayors of the Cities Initiative will continue working with the Government of Canada to develop a funding strategy for the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River to ensure their successful restoration and protection for years to come", said Sandra Cooper, Mayor of Collingwood, Ontario, and vice-chairperson of the Cities Initiative.

Following the United States departure from the Paris Climate Change Agreement, the mayors re-emphasized the increased role of cities in the fight against climate change. "While the President of the United States has bowed out of the Paris Agreement, we are stepping up as cities to lead the charge against climate change," said Paul Dyster, new chairman of the Cities Initiative and mayor of Niagara Falls, N.Y.

"The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway are existential resources to the cities, towns and villages that rest on their shores," Paine said. "Our identity, economy, climate, and our lives depend on this single largest source of fresh water on the planet. It is the responsibility of every American and Canadian leader to protect the ecological health and economic vitality of this irreplaceable resource. For those of us that build our lives on these waters, we have a unique duty to stand up and defend them from the very real dangers of climate change, invasive species, and pollution. I am humbled to spend one of my earliest weeks in office in the company of more than 50 other mayors and community leaders, whose passion and determination sets such a striking example of the type of leadership both our countries and our Great Lakes need."

The mayors also resolved to seek UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve status for the entire Great Lakes and St. Lawrence basin, a measure intended to draw international attention to the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River as a unique ecosystem of worldwide significance. The resolution encourages the U.S. and Canadian federal governments to pursue creating one of the largest UNESCO Biosphere Reserves on the planet.