Excerpt on IJC USA Canadian response to solve lower water levels. Huge economic hit to local, regional economies:
Twenty-four of 44 Georgian Bay municipalities weighed in for the casebook. They reported water levels are affecting 68 marinas and 76 other businesses, as well as 31 government facilities, including municipal water systems, coast guard stations and the MS Chi-Cheemaun ferry.
It is estimated cottagers will spend $500 million to extend and repair docks and water systems, and the negative impact on local economies is pegged between $50 million to $100 million.
“It’s great to have this long-term discussion, but we need to do something for 2013. We have our summer season upon us,” said Midland Mayor Gord McKay.
The mayors want a streamlining of the system required to get permits for dredging, blasting, dock repairs and other quick fixes, and they want $20 million – half each from the federal and provincial governments – to help cover the cost of the work.
Penetanguishene Mayor Gerry Marshall said municipal officials have met with both the NDP and Progressive Conservative caucuses, but have had less luck with the ruling Liberals.
“During the recent Liberal leadership campaign, I brought this issue directly to the attention of many of the leadership contenders, including Premier Kathleen Wynne herself and (Finance) Minister Charles Sousa and Minister of Infrastructure Glen Murray,” he said.
It’s imperative that Wynne spearheads an economic relief program, said Marshall, adding the premier then needs to engage with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama to find a solution.
“The leaders have to lead on this issue,” he said, estimating up to 700 jobs are at stake across the region.
“If we closed a factory that was losing 700 jobs, politicians would be lined up for photos handing out cheques, but, because the jobs are spread across the Georgian Bay shoreline, they are being ignored,” the mayor said.
Simcoe-Grey MPP Jim Wilson said he agrees the province must come up with funds for this “emergency.”
“The provincial government is going to have to step up to the plate or we’re going to have a miserable economic condition all along the shoreline,” Wilson said. “We have immediate problems.”