With a deadline fast approaching, the province says it’s committed to keeping the Experimental Lakes Area open.
Scientists at the world-renowned area are concerned that there is still no long-term agreement between the province and federal government and the International Institute for Sustainable Development in place to keep the facility open past Sept. 1, when a temporary agreement expires.
The federal government cut funding to the 40-year-old facility and allowed it to reopen for a limited time while an agreement was worked out to keep it afloat.
Council of Canadians Thunder Bay chapter chair Tom Cook said a letter was sent in June to all negotiating parties asking where they were at with an agreement.
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“We haven’t heard a word since then,” Cook said. “We need to know if this is a go or not.”
The province committed to operational funding earlier this year. MPP Michael Gravelle (Lib., Thunder Bay-Superior North) even though an agreement isn’t in place, it’s still committed to seeing the ELA saty open. He’s confident an agreement will be reached.
“That commitment is something we’re taking very seriously,” he said. “We do think it’s crucial that the operation stays open.”
Scientists from all over the world pay to use the station. Council of Canadians’ Ruth Cook said operation costs are between $200,000 and $400,000 a year.
“Which is peanuts in a provincial budget never mind a federal budget,” she said.
MP Bruce Hyer (Ind., Thunder Bay-Superior North) said he thinks the federal government might be stalling the negotiations.
“If that’s true that’s a real shame,” he said.
With Kenora MP Greg Rickford recently appointed as the federal government’s Minsiter of Science, Hyer said he’s hopeful things might change for the better.