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Conservation Efforts around the Hamilton Harbour - Southern Ontario Pub Night - Burlington

On November 23rd, 2011, attendees to the Laurentian-SETAC Southern Ontario Pub Night at Emma’s Back Porch in Burlington were treated with a very informative presentation by Kelly Pike, the Program Manager for the Bay Area Restoration Council (BARC). Through her work, Ms. Pike helps to develop and deliver numerous BARC programs that aim to inform the general public on the importance of protecting the Hamilton Harbour and its watershed. Hamilton Harbour was designated one of the 43 “Areas of Concern” (AOCs) under a Protocol of the Canada-U.S. Water Quality Agreement, through which both countries committed to the development and implementation of Remedial Action Plans (RAPs) for each AOC. The first stakeholders’ meeting for the Hamilton Harbour Remedial Action Plan was held in 1986, at the Canada Centre for Inland Waters (CCIW). Since this program has been implemented, fish and wildlife habitat has increased in Hamilton Harbour and Cootes Paradise, allowing fish and wildlife populations to slowly recover. The Hamilton-Halton Watershed Stewardship Program has reached over 3,000 landowners, covering 2,900 hectares of wetland and upland habitat in the watershed. Approximately 25 years later, the RAP is still in place. Its main goal is to delist Hamilton Harbour as an Area of Concern by increasing public awareness on the importance of the harbour watershed and public access to the harbour, by improving wildlife habitat, and by containing and reducing the contaminants that are released in the Hamilton waters. These efforts are still ongoing through the BARC, which is responsible for public outreach through community involvement in RAP and events aimed at educating people about the importance of the harbour and its watershed. Currently, there are two major projects underway that aim to move forward in delisting Hamilton Harbour as an Area of Concern. One such project involves upgrades to the Woodward Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) to improve water quality, and the second project involves the development of a secure containment facility at Randle Reef to prevent the spread of contaminated sediment in the harbour. The current achievements of the program would not have been possible without the help, commitment and partnership among all levels of government, industry, private land owners, scientists and researchers who have provided the much needed research and monitoring of the Hamilton Harbour and its watershed. Submitted by Oana Birceanu

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