This month the Experimental Lakes Area will close, after over 40 years as a world-renowned research centre. The federal government says it can no longer afford the two to three million dollars required each year to run the ELA.
The ELA is located in northwestern Ontario, and has 58 small lakes that it studies. Scientists there are allowed to alter the chemical make-up of lakes to see what pollution and climate change can do to a body of water.
When the Harper government announced the closure of the ELA last year, there were rumours that some other entity would be found to keep the research going. However, that never happened. Some media sources said time ran out.
This situation presents an opportunity for the minister responsible for FedNor, Tony Clement. FedNor’s business plan mandate calls for the encouragement of “sustainable, self-reliant communities.” What could better reflect that spirit than research that supports Ontario’s and Canada’s precious fresh water ecology. If the minister could provide bridge funding for the ELA, he could lead in an effort to find new partnerships that would maintain the research, and the jobs in the Kenora area.
Our riding once had a Progressive Conservative MP who realized the threat that pollution posed for Muskoka-Parry Sound’s iconic lake systems. Stan Darling was known as “Mr. Acid Rain” because of the work he did to control acid rain, on a policy level, in Ottawa and the USA. The incumbent member helped set up a scholarship in Mr. Darling’s name. How much more fitting it would be if he could follow in the footsteps of the man from Burk’s Falls on that same kind of policy level.