OTTAWA – Senator Bob Runciman (Ontario – Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes) and Leeds-Grenville MP Gord Brown met this week with Joe Comuzzi, Canadian chair of the International Joint Commission, to try to spur action on a new St. Lawrence River water levels policy that better serves the people of eastern Ontario.
Runciman and Brown, who met with Comuzzi at the IJC’s Ottawa headquarters on Wednesday afternoon, have long complained about the current water levels management plan, which leaves boaters high and dry in the Thousand Islands as water levels are drawn down substantially in late August each year.
Environmentalists, marina operators and recreational boaters have all condemned the current policy, and argued in favour of a system that better conforms to the natural flows of the river.
“This problem has been studied and studied again. The last study took five years and cost more than $20 million to tell them what we all know: the current policy is flawed and ignores the interests of residents and businesses along the St. Lawrence River,” Runciman said. “I was impressed with Chairman Comuzzi’s understanding of the urgency of the situation and his commitment to a resolution.”
“My concern is for the people in my riding, not just recreational boaters, but the people whose livelihood depends on a healthy tourism industry based on the St. Lawrence River,” Brown said. “The situation is dire now, but what happens if water levels are reduced substantially again in late August?”
Officials from the governments of Canada, the United States, Ontario, Quebec and New York State are part of a working group currently trying to reach agreement on a new policy.