By MPP Toby Barrett

Building on the work of so many over the years to help promote and protect our Great Lakes – on Dec. 11, 2019 I introduced an Ontario Private Member’s Bill to enhance the promotion and protection of North America’s Great Lakes.

As explained in the proposed legislation, “The Bill amends the Great Lakes Protection Act, 2015 to change its title to the Great Lakes Protection and Promotion Act, 2019 and to add the promotion of tourism and other economic activities in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin that respect the ecological health of the Basin as a purpose of the Act.”

Ontario Bill 166, referred to as The Great Lakes Protection and Promotion Act, is a means to an end – to continue to raise awareness of the possibilities and potential of North America’s Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin. 

My goal is to work to develop a collaborative action plan and framework to serve as model for all interested Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin agencies, jurisdictions, communities, and governments to promote tourism, recreational activities and sustainable economic growth and development while protecting the pristine environment, ecological diversity, and the scenic, cultural, and historical beauty of North America’s Great Lakes. 

Our Great Lakes offer landscapes that afford superb recreational and tourism opportunities. This can be a way to assist communities that have lost mining, forestry, industrial, or commercial activity but have the potential to enhance and capitalize on their natural environment for their economic benefit.

Part of the goal is to support a positive traveler experience. For example, improved infrastructure and lodging, enhanced access for recreation, enhanced digital-interpretive opportunities through social media, and digital tools like Google Maps and Google Trail.

The Great Lakes are important to 30 million people for our drinking water, quality of life, jobs and prosperity. Ontario has worked collaboratively with Canadian, US and local partners for half a century to protect and restore Great Lakes and water quality and ecosystem health.

Ontario’s 2012 Great Lakes Strategy outlines Ontario’s economic, social, and environmental priorities for the Great Lakes region, aligning priorities and contributions from 14 Ontario ministries. The strategy is currently under review.

For more information contact me at

Toby Barrett is MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk