The province is putting its money where its mouth is, committing up to $2 million a year to keep the Experimental Lakes Area open
The research facility had been threatened with closure after the federal government decided to withdraw funding earlier this year. The province agreed in April to keep the world-renowned facility open in April but an agreement needed to be reached between Ontario, Canada and the International Institute for Sustainable Development, which will operate the facility.
Premier Kathleen Wynne announced the funding Monday in Kenora. Northern Development Minister Michael Gravelle said it's great news.
"The work that's been done there over the years is nothing short of remarkable," Gravelle said.
The province said the agreement with the International Institute for Sustainable Development is a temporary one, keeping the 45-year-old facility opened while a longer-term deal is negotiated. The money will keep the facility operational though March 31, 2014.
But Gravelle said the provincial commitment is there.
"We have done the right thing," he said.
Gravelle also credits the Thunder Bay chapter of the Council of Canadians for their advocacy to keep the ELA open. Spokeswoman
Ruth Cook said the organization is grateful that everyone came to an agreement. Her husband Tom said the group is relieved that they won't have to ramp up a campaign to keep the facility open but will be keeping an eye on negotiations for the long term agreement.
"We don't like to be trouble makers or be hounding people from doing things we think are obviously wrong," Cook said. "Somebody got it right this time."
Scientists from several organizations sent media releases applauding the provincial commitment Monday.
“Canada’s Experimental Lakes Area is the only research facility in the world where lakes have been set aside to conduct long-term experiments to see how entire ecosystems respond to pollutants and climate change”, said Dr. Jules Blais, President of the Society of Canadian Limnologists, and Professor of Environmental Toxicology the University of Ottawa in a media statement.
“The Canadian freshwater science community welcomes the leadership shown recently by the IISD and Premier Wynne in supporting the ELA during this difficult transition period.”