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Speech for  

The Honourable Peter Kent, P.C., M.P.
Minister of the Environment

Federal Funding for
The Randle Reef Sediment Remediation Project

Pier 15
Hamilton, Ontario

December 18, 2012

Good morning.

I’m pleased to have this opportunity to share with all of you today’s announcement regarding the Great Lakes.

As the largest group of freshwater lakes on the planet, these lakes sustain billions in trade every year between Canada and the United States. And here in Hamilton Harbour, the economic activity and potential for future growth are tremendous. This port handles the largest volume of cargo and shipping traffic of all Canadian Great Lakes ports. On average every year about 700 vessels move more than 12 million metric tonnes of cargo in and out of this port.

Ensuring the long-term economic and environmental viability of Hamilton Harbour is clearly important. Yet back in 1985, due to significant water quality impairments, Hamilton Harbour was identified as an Area of Concern under the Canada-United States Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.

Since then, many improvements have been made, such as combined sewer overflow retention tanks, implementation of a fisheries management plan, restoration of about 375 hectares of wildlife and fish habitat, and upgrades to wastewater treatment plants discharging into the harbour. 

Today, I am delighted to announce $46.3 million in Government of Canada funding to clean up Randle Reef in Hamilton Harbour, the largest and most severely contaminated site within the Canadian side of the Great Lakes. Our contribution provides one third of the funding for this eight-year $138.9 million project. Of course, as with any project, funding for the implementation is contingent on the completion of the Environmental Assessment process. 

This is the last major step in the process to restore Hamilton Harbour and remove it from the list of Areas of Concern. This project will improve water quality and reduce contaminant levels in aquatic life organisms. It will create roughly 60 jobs per year in the local community. Once complete, it will remove current restrictions on navigation and generate greater economic returns through the creation of valuable port lands.

As project leader, we look forward to working in close collaboration with all of our partners--the City of Hamilton, the Hamilton Port Authority, U. S. Steel Canada, the City of Burlington, the Regional Municipality of Halton and Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment. These other partners recently confirmed their shares of funding of this important project.  

Today’s announcement supports the Government of Canada’s commitments under the recently amended Canada-United States Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. We are announcing one of many investments the Harper Government is making to address high priority water issues for the Great Lakes. In fact, we have already invested $583 million for wastewater infrastructure in the Great Lakes Basin since 2007. We have also provided the Great Lakes with $16 million to deal with algae, in Economic Action Plan 2011, and $17.5 million to tackle the Asian Carp, in Economic Action Plan 2012.

All of this underscores the Government of Canada’s dedication to ensuring all Canadians have access to clean, safe and healthy water. I look forward to the positive results that our partnership will deliver for Hamilton Harbour in the years to come.

Thank you.