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Ontario Helping Local Groups Protect and Restore Great Lakes

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Ontario Helping Local Groups Protect and Restore Great Lakes

Province Marking Earth Day; Investing $1.5 Million in Grassroots Projects

Ontario is investing $1.5 million this year in local efforts to help protect, restore and enhance the Great Lakes.

Now in its fourth year, the Great Lakes Guardian Community Fund is providing up to $25,000 each to fund 69 projects led by not-for-profit organizations, schools, First Nations and Métis communities and other local groups. These projects have a direct environmental benefit to the Great Lakes and include:

  • Planting trees and other forms of vegetation
  • Naturalizing stream banks
  • Cleaning up beaches and shorelines
  • Creating rain gardens
  • Restoring wetland habitat
  • Controlling invasive species

Since it was created in 2012, the Great Lakes Guardian Community Fund has awarded $6 million to 305 community-based projects in Great Lakes watershed areas, including the St. Lawrence River Basin and the Ottawa River. 

Investing in communities along the Great Lakes is part of the government's economic plan to build Ontario up and deliver on its number one priority to grow the economy and create jobs. The four-part plan includes investing in talent and skills, including helping more people get and create the jobs of the future by expanding access to high-quality college and university education. The plan is making the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario's history and investing in a low-carbon economy driven by innovative, high-growth, export-oriented businesses. The plan is also helping working Ontarians achieve a more secure retirement.

Quick Facts

  • Since 2012, the Great Lakes Guardian Community Fund has supported more than 11,000 volunteers to plant 85,125 trees, release 2,133 fish, create or enhance 643 kilometres of trail and collect over 600 bags of garbage.
  • Since 2007, Ontario has invested more than $140 million into 1,000 local Great Lakes protection projects that have reduced harmful pollutants, restored some of the most contaminated areas, and engaged hundreds of partners and community groups to protect and restore the health of the Great Lakes.
  • Ontario’s Great Lakes Basin is home to 40 per cent of Canada’s economic activity and 95 per cent of Ontario’s agricultural land.
  • The Great Lakes basin is home to nearly 99 per cent of the province’s population, over 95 per cent of the province’s agriculture and food production, 80 per cent of the province’s power generation, and 75 per cent of the country’s manufacturing sector.
  • Ontario has 10,000 kilometres of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence shoreline, the longest freshwater coastline in the world.
  • The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region generated $5.8 trillion (USD) in 2014 and supports nearly 47 million jobs, which is almost 30 per cent of the combined Canadian and U.S. workforce.

Additional Resources


“Healthy Great Lakes are vital to the success of our province. We are proud to support local projects that help protect and restore the Great Lakes, make sure they can thrive through the impacts of the changing climate and keep them drinkable, swimmable and fishable for generations to come. On this Earth Day, I commend you for showing Ontario that as Great Lakes Guardians, we can be confident that you will continue to do the right thing to help us take care of the Great Lakes.”

Glen Murray

Minister of the Environment and Climate Change

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Environment and Energy