Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Keep ELA open as talks go on

  • Print

As if to punctuate the waste of closing down its world-renowned freshwater research hub in northwestern Ontario, the federal government is refusing to allow federally funded scientists into the Experimental Lakes Area this summer. That will jeopardize a host of experiments underway, as the research area, in effect, sits fallow.

The Harper government is in negotiations to turn over the ELA, reportedly to the International Institute for Sustainable Development. Those talks may take more months than is ostensibly left to the ELA -- the government said last year that by March 31, 2013, the research station would be closed or under a new owner.

Transferring ownership of the ELA, a $2-million-a -year operation that has spawned award-winning environmental science in its 44-year history, is complicated. Under an agreement with Ontario, which owns the land and 58 lakes, the ELA operates on condition that Ottawa assumes liability. That ensures full restoration of lakes or land that are purposely altered to study environmental impact.

Decommissioning the ELA is currently estimated to cost as much as $50 million, a responsibility few third parties would want to shoulder. Which government, or new owner, would take on such liability once Ottawa bows out?

Federal departments have continued to issue expensive research grants to government and academic scientists operating at the ELA, just east of Kenora. That irony nonetheless underscores the fact the government recognizes the real value of this science -- tracking the effect of atmospheric mercury and probing the potential environmental impact of the popular nanoparticles.

The Harper Tories have done a poor job explaining their decision that this research centre, the only one of its kind in the world, is somehow and suddenly outside the federal government's core interest.

The decision to close the ELA makes no economic sense, any way one looks at it. But to risk long-running, expensive research by barring scientists from their outdoor labs as transfer negotiations continue is the very definition of waste. Ottawa should open the ELA to permit that work to proceed until it finds an appropriate owner to operate a research station that should never have landed on the chopping block.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien, Shannon Sampert, and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 21, 2013 A14

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Gary Lawless & Ed Tait try not to bleeping cry over the woesome Jets

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Water lilys are reflected in the pond at the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden Tuesday afternoon. Standup photo. Sept 11,  2012 (Ruth Bonneville/Winnipeg Free Press)
  • JOE.BRYKSA@FREEPRESS.MB.CA Local-(  Standup photo)-    A butterfly looks for nector on a lily Tuesday afternoon in Wolseley-JOE BRYKSA/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS- June 22, 2010

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Will you get out and vote for a new mayor and council?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google