Canada invests in Thunder Bay projects to clean up and protect the Great Lakes

News release

October 10, 2023 – Thunder Bay, Ontario

The Great Lakes are essential to the health and well-being of millions of Canadians, natural ecosystems, and the economy. Protecting them is critical. The Government of Canada remains committed to restoring water quality and ecosystem health in these treasured waters.

Today, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services, announced on behalf of the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, $663,500 in funding under the Freshwater Action Plan for six projects that will support region-specific actions to restore water quality and ecosystem health:

  • $230,000 for Lakehead University to restore riparian and coastal habitat for fish and wildlife in the Thunder Bay Area of Concern, as well as build features to filter stormwater before it reaches Lake Superior.
  • $108,500 for Lakehead University to implement the Thunder Bay Area of Concern Wildlife Habitat Strategy and facilitate community engagement.
  • $146,000 for the Bare Point Restoration Co. to complete engineering design specifications and start site preparation for constructing a new wetland complex and restoring a cold-water creek system near the former Superior Fine Papers property.
  • $40,000 for the Fort William First Nation to naturalize and stabilize shoreline habitat by planting trees and shrubs in the Grand Point and the Kaministiquia River areas.
  • $54,000 for the Lakehead Region Conservation Authority to conduct riparian habitat rehabilitation, invasive species management, and create meadow habitat at the “Redwood site” of the Neebing-McIntyre Floodway Corridor.
  • $85,000 for the North Shore Steelhead Association to complete modifications to the Current River fishway/fish ladder to optimize its performance and improve fish movement between Thunder Bay and upstream fish habitat.

These are six of 24 projects recently funded under the Great Lakes Freshwater Ecosystem Initiative, part of the Government of Canada’s Freshwater Action Plan to protect and restore freshwater bodies of national significance. Canada aims to complete all actions to clean up 12 of 14 remaining Canadian Areas of Concern by 2030, complete all 14 by 2038, and meet Canada’s phosphorus load reduction targets for Lake Erie by 2039.

These local projects will help to advance Canada’s commitments under the Canada–United States Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and the Canada–Ontario Agreement on Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health.   


“Canada is making transformative investments to clean up the Great Lakes, targeting key areas of concern like Thunder Bay. The Great Lakes are imperative to our environmental, social, and economic well-being, and there is much work to be done to clean up pollution and protect these vital ecosystems. Working hand in hand with our partners will yield positive outcomes for Canadians today, and for future generations.”
– The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

“People in northwestern Ontario have a deep appreciation for the waterways that nourish our region, including Lake Superior. Our ways of life are intertwined with water, as are the animals and land. Increasingly, water is under attack through pollution and other changes that cause great damage to the water and wildlife we hold dear. With these federal investments, organizations will have support to continue their hard work on behalf of all of us to restore, rehabilitate, and protect the water systems in our region. Thank you for your vision and leadership as we work together to protect the water we all love.”
– The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services

“With tremendous community partnerships and committed local champions, combined with strong financial support from Environment and Climate Change Canada's Great Lakes Freshwater Ecosystem Initiative, the Thunder Bay Area of Concern is embarking on a decadal restoration strategy that integrates wildlife habitat and ecological service restoration into waterfront redevelopment and public access. We are hoping this initiative and capacity is only the beginning of a culture of restoration on the Big Lake and the final stages required to delist Thunder Bay as an Area of Concern.”
– Dr. Robert Stewart, Associate Professor, Geography and Environment, Lakehead University

“The Lakehead Region Conservation Authority is extremely appreciative of the funding from Environment and Climate Change Canada for the various stewardship projects currently being undertaken in our region. This funding is imperative to helping the LRCA achieve our vision of a healthy, safe, and sustainable Lakehead Watershed for future generations. This stewardship work is vital for the conservation and protection of the Lakehead Watershed, and we are pleased to be able to continue working toward this goal.”
– Donna Blunt, Chair, Lakehead Region Conservation Authority

Quick facts

  • Canada has over two million lakes and rivers and more inland water than any other country.

  • These six projects are among the 24 new projects announced on September 28, 2023, to:

    • Restore water quality and ecosystem health in Areas of Concern
    • Prevent toxic and nuisance algae
    • Engage Indigenous peoples in Great Lakes restoration and protection
  • Budget 2023 announced a major investment in freshwater in Canada, including:

    • $650 million over 10 years, starting in 2023–24, to support monitoring, assessment, and restoration work in the Great Lakes, Lake Winnipeg, Lake of the Woods, St. Lawrence River, Fraser River, Saint John River, Mackenzie River, and Lake Simcoe.
      • This includes an investment of $420 million over 10 years for the Great Lakes, announced by the Prime Minister, with a focus on accelerating Canada’s implementation of the Canada–United States Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.
    • $22.6 million over three years, starting in 2023–24, to support better coordination of efforts to protect freshwater across Canada.
    • $85.1 million over five years, starting in 2023–24, and $21 million ongoing to support the creation of a Canada Water Agency, headquartered in Winnipeg.  
  • The new Canada Water Agency is the federal focal point for fresh water, working in partnership with Indigenous peoples, provinces, territories, and stakeholders to strengthen collaboration on fresh water. It delivers key elements of the strengthened Freshwater Action Plan.

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Oliver Anderson
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Media Relations
Environment and Climate Change Canada
819-938-3338 or 1-844-836-7799 (toll-free)

Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Twitter page

Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Facebook page

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