Experimental Lakes Area funding restored


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KENORA — A fresh water research facility once in danger of closing has seen its federal funding revived by the Liberal Trudeau government.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 10/08/2016 (2246 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

KENORA — A fresh water research facility once in danger of closing has seen its federal funding revived by the Liberal Trudeau government.

Almost $2 million will flow from Ottawa to the Experimental Lakes Area over the next two years, Winnipeg South MP Terry Duguid said Wednesday.

The federal government announced the revival of funding to the research facility to the tune of $1.7 million over two years at an event on the shore of Lake of the Woods in Kenora, Ont. with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister.

JOHN WOODS / THE CANADIAN PRESS (From left) Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister and Kenora MP Bob Nault speak prior to a $1.7 million federal investment announcement into the IISD Experimental Lakes Area on the shore of Lake of The Woods in Kenora, Wednesday, August 10, 2016. IISD Experimental Lakes Area is a research facility where scientists conduct research on lakes and ecosystems.

The Manitoba government has committed over $6 million over the next six years to Winnipeg-based International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), which took over operations of the ELA in 2014. Of that funding, $900,000 is specifically devoted to the research facility, Pallister confirmed on Wednesday. Ontario has also agreed to spend $2 million a year over four years on the facility.

The Experimental Lakes Area is a group of 58 lakes about 75 kilometres northeast of Kenora, where research is done on whole bodies of water rather than in a lab. Founded in 1968, for more than four decades the lakes were a crown jewel of Canadian science as one of the only places in the world where experiments can be conducted on whole ecosystems.

The funding was discontinued in 2013 under the Conservative Harper government, which cut the $2 million it annually flowed to the facility, much to the dismay of scientists in Canada who pointed out the program’s unique nature, and numerous protests were staged. The facility was in danger of closure before the Institute for Sustainable Development stepped up to take over operations with funding from the Ontario and Manitoba government.

Manitoba’s premier wasn’t ready to condemn his former boss for the decision. Pallister was the Conservative MP under Stephen Harper for Portage-Lisgar from 2000 to 2008. When asked if he thought the funding cut was a mistake, Pallister replied, “every government has to make difficult decisions.”

“I think it is important to be respectful of the decisions that others have made. We obviously take a different approach as a provincial partner in this important exercise,” Pallister said.

In the 2016 federal budget, Ottawa set aside $197 million for freshwater and ocean science, including monitoring and research activities and support for the Experimental Lakes Area. Some of that is earmarked to hire 135 new scientists, biologists, oceanographers and technicians, including some which will be dedicated to the Experimental Lakes Area .

Matthew McCandless, the executive director of the IISD, said no research was lost when government funding for the Experimental Lakes Area was in limbo, but is thrilled with the fedeal government’s commitment to return funding.

“There was no interruption in the research at all, it was something we felt as an organization, the legacy of the Experimental Lakes Area was very important and we need to make sure there was no interruption,” he said.

McCandless said with the extra funding, more scientists will be hired and focus will be put on examining the impact of climate change on fresh water lakes, as well as the impact of plastic disposed in lakes has on the ecosystem.

“There is a lot of concern about plastics, plastic particles in the water and what happens once they are in the water, what happens when they are in the environment. Climate change, we certainly know from the decades of monitoring it that the climate of this area is changing,” he said. “What that means for ecosystems is what the research will focus on.”

— with files from Mia Rabson



Updated on Wednesday, August 10, 2016 4:19 PM CDT: Fixes byline

Updated on Wednesday, August 10, 2016 4:30 PM CDT: Updates photo

Updated on Wednesday, August 10, 2016 7:21 PM CDT: writethrough

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