Niagara MPP Urges Ontario’s Ford Government to Embrace Niagara River as ‘Global Treasure’ and ‘Wetland of International Importance’

“I was shocked to see (Ontario’s) Niagara Parks Commission decided not to endorse this extremely important initiative that has been in the works for years by groups on both sides of the Niagara River.”                                                                                              – Niagara Centre NDP MPP Jeff Burch

Why can’t our public leaders in Niagara, Ontario do what our neighbours in Western New York have already done? – Approve a global desiignation on the Niagara River as an internationally important wetland. Photo by Doug Draper

This Open Letter circulated from MPP Jeff Burch’s Niagara Centre Constituency Office in Niagara, Ontario

Posted October 15th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

An OPEN LETTER from Niagara Centre NDP MPP Jeff Burch to – John Yakabuski, Ontario Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, Lisa MacLeod, Ontario Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, and Jeff Yurek, Ontario Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks

Dear Ministers Yakabuski, MacLeod and Yurek:


Niagara Centre NDP MPP Jeff Burch

Given the drastic changes we see every day with climate change, I believe any initiative that promotes the protection of our wetlands including the Niagara River Corridor is imperative. The Ramsar Convention is a voluntary Treaty, committed to promoting the conservation and wise use of water-based ecosystems through international engagement and collaboration. 

The Treaty was signed in Ramsar, Iran; in 1971. Canada signed it in 1981, the United States in 1987.

Niagara Falls and Fort Erie endorsed the Ramsar Designation in 2015 along with the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority and Ontario Power Generation. It’s still under review by Niagara Regional Council but endorsed by its Planning and Economic Development Committee.

I was shocked to see the Niagara Parks Commission decided not to endorse this extremely important initiative that has been in the works for years by groups on both sides of the Niagara River.

It must be stressed, that a Ramsar designation does not impose any restrictions on the management of any sites involved. It is non-regulatory and non-binding. The U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as well as State and Local Governments celebrated the designation of the Niagara River Corridor as a Wetland of International Importance over a year ago.

Some of the many Western New York representatives – our American neighbours from municipalities, state and federal government and citizen groups in and around Buffalo and Niagara Falls, New York – celebrating the designation of their side of the Niagara River as a Ramsar globally important wetland a year ago this October. And yet our leaders on the Ontario side of the Niagara River still can’t do this!

Given where the Niagara River was in the 1970’s and 80’s to where it is today is astounding and incredible work on both sides made it happen. A news article from May 7, 1987 had the staggering headline that Mist from Niagara Falls was toxic. “TORONTO (AP) _ A University of Toronto study says the romantic mist rising from Niagara Falls contains large amounts of cancer-causing chemicals, posing an unknown risk to 150,000 people living in the border area.”

Western New York area …. Jajean-Rose Burney, with Canadian counterpart and Niagara, Ontario resident Jocelyn Baker, celebrating an international designation for the American side of the Niagara River, a year ago this October 1st. After years of trying, we still can’t get this done on the Ontario side.

Decades of restoration efforts by provincial, state and federal governments as well as environmental groups helped to significantly improve the quality and ecological health of the Niagara River we see today.

That must continue for future generations. The MNRF has the lead role for the care and management of Ontario’s Crown land and water covering about 87 per cent of the province.

Many of the province’s significant wetlands are located on provincial Crown lands. I am asking if the Ontario Government and Provincial Ministries involved will join me in endorsing the Ramsar Designation of the Niagara River and support our American friends in creating the first bi-national-transboundary Ramsar site in North America.

  • Sincerely, Jeff Burch, MPP, Riding of Niagara Centre in Niagara, Ontario

This Open Letter was also sent to  –

Jim Bradley, Niagara Regional Chair and Regional Councillors, Mayor Wayne Redekop, Town of Fort Erie and Council, Mayor Jim Diodati, City of Niagara Falls and Council, Lord Mayor Betty Disero, Town of Niagara on the Lake and Council ,Wayne Gates, MPP, Niagara Falls, David Adames, Niagara Parks Commission CEO, Christine Hogan, Deputy Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Jacey Scott, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Jocelyn Baker, Canadian Co-chair, Niagara River Ramsar Designation Steering Committee, Jajean Rose-Burney, U.S. Co-chair, Niagara River Ramsar Designation Steering Committee

A  Footnote from Doug Draper at Niagara At Large –

Why do we still not have elected leaders and public bodies on the Niagara, Ontario side of the Niagara River willing to do this?

Niagara At Large has posted news and commentary on the disgrace of the Niagara Parks Commission – a body created over a century ago to protect and preserve the Niagara River corridor – and more recently, Niagara Regional Council’s decision to put off supporting this great global designation for the Niagara River in the days to come.

Thanks to far too many backward thinking elected members of our local and regional councils in Niagara, Ontario, and thanks to partisan hacks now controlling the board at the Niagara Parks Commission – we in Niagara, Ontario are still not able to bestow on this iconic river a Ramsar designation that our American neighbours did a year ago. It is beyond embarrassing for this Niagara region on the global state.

What in hell is wrong with us that we can’t simply do this? Niagara At Large will have more to post on this in the days and weeks ahead.

  • Doug Draper, Niagara At Large

To read a recent piece Niagara At Large posted on this issue, click on – .

NIAGARA AT LARGE Encourages You To Join The Conversation By Sharing Your Views On This Post In The Space Following The Bernie Sanders Quote Below.

“A Politician Thinks Of The Next Election. A Leader Thinks Of The Next Generation.” – Bernie Sanders


2 responses to “Niagara MPP Urges Ontario’s Ford Government to Embrace Niagara River as ‘Global Treasure’ and ‘Wetland of International Importance’

  1. Lately, I’m not impressed with the NPC. Yesterday I intended to walk at Dufferin Islands, which I’ve done for most of my 71 years. Now there is park and pay….$5 an hour. I refused and left. I thought the NPC was designed to encourage enjoyment of the Niagara River corridor. Especially at a time when Covid has forced people indoors and alone, we need to be outside enjoying nature for our mental and physical well being. When I get time, I intend to expand on this topic… with permission of Niagara at Large.


  2. Thank goodness someone is standing up for our unique environment! I am extremely disappointed by the NPC stance on this matter and on others.


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