Editor's Note: Toronto needs a clean, green Lake Ontario

Extreme weather, invasive species, Trump highlight coming challenges


Published:

Flooding has, at times, overwhelmed the beaches of Toronto

It’s been a wild and very wet spring and summer for Toronto residents, and it doesn’t seem as if the pace of rainfall is easing up any time soon. 

On the Toronto Islands, a slew of events, from festivals to small weddings, have been cancelled, and wonderful local businesses have been irreparably damaged. In the Beaches, the high lake levels have washed away much of the sand strip and left a somewhat permanent inland lake where just last year volleyball courts used to sit. 

It’s a hassle, to be sure. But it’s also a reminder of the intimate relationship the city has with Lake Ontario. 

For instance, the amount of rain and flash floods is drawing attention to the city’s aging infrastructure as all the water all at once results in a situation where sewer systems and water treatment are bypassed. 

That’s right, the gunk that shall remain nameless runs directly into our lake. It’s a bit of a bacterial swill that makes the lake unswimmable following a storm. It’s just one of numerous issues facing our Great Lakes. 

There are also algae issues that are a constant problem. 

But the biggest threat could end up being a massive funding cut, called for by President Donald Trump south of the border, to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. This isn’t a small potatos cut. Basically it is the elimination of hundreds of millions of dollars that will likely result in, at minimum, serious problems relating to invasive species such as Asian carp. And that comes in addition to Trump burying his head in the sand and pretending climate change isn’t really a thing.

As we now know, thanks to all the, you know, science, more extreme weather situations, such as torrential downpours, freak thunderstorms and now even micro tsunamis, are a product of a changing climate. No, it isn’t just a gentle warming up, sorry. 

Oh, and the lake provides drinking water to approximately nine million people. No big deal.

Yes, it is nice to hear Mayor John Tory is already actively meeting with other Lake Ontario mayors, such as Chicago’s Rahm Emanuel, to strategize about what can be done to battle Trump’s efforts.

The city of Toronto is a glowing example of how  cities can fight climate change. And a new TransformTO plan to cut the city’s greenhouse gas emissions is another in a long line of progressive measures. We are leading the way.

The torrential rain this year, the storms, the problems with the lake and the sewers should serve as a reminder that no matter how tall our towers get or how far north we move, the lake will always be an essential part of all of our lives.  

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Ron Johnson is the editor of Post City Magazines. Follow him on Twitter @TheRonJohnson.

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