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We Love Our Lake

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 The Lake of the Woods Project – It’s All About the Lake!

In March, 2012, the Lake of the Woods Development Commission initiated the Lake of the Woods Project as a way for the City of Kenora and its partners to take a leadership role in environmental stewardship. The project has three main goals:

  1. Support international efforts around water quality protection for the Lake of the Woods watershed
  2. Consider the feasibility of a Water Resources Centre, focused on Lake of the Woods and based in Kenora
  3. Develop the “Stewards of the Lake” campaign to connect locals and visitors with the lake and demonstrate Kenora’s commitment to be the lake’s steward

Goal 1: Support International Watershed Activities

The future holds much promise for increased activity regarding watershed management in this basin, given the recent commitment of the U.S. and Canadian federal governments to improve binational water management for Lake of the Woods and the Rainy River basin. This initiative will require local commitment and participation and the City of Kenora and the Development Commission are preparing themselves to play a role. The City has supported this international collaboration for many years and now is defining its own grassroots programs to instil a sense of pride and protection of our water resource.

The International Joint Commission is currently developing a Water Quality Plan of Study to address research and policy/governance needs for boundary waters in the Lake of the Woods Basin with a focus on:

  • Nutrients and algal blooms
  • Aquatic invasive species
  • Surface and groundwater contaminants
  • Impacts of climate change
  • Impacts of hydrologic regulation

To find out more visit the International Joint Commission website or contact Kelli Saunders, Plan of Study Team Secretary at 807-548-8002 or saundersk@ottawa.ijc.org.

Goal 2: Consider Feasibility of Water Resources Centre in Kenora

The concept of a Water Resources Centre for this basin was first conceived in the early 2000s and the Commission is rejuvenating the idea, and would like to establish the centre in Kenora. Its main purpose would be to serve as a data warehouse for all of the research ongoing in the basin, and to provide education and communication resources for citizens and researchers around water science and management.

A website is currently under construction to serve as the first communication tool for the centre and it is anticipated that it will be up and running in the winter of 2012 – this website will post research documents, provide stewardship information to citizens, allow for sharing of information and updates on environmental conditions in the basin, link like-minded groups and individuals through stewardship initiatives and be a hub for the great work going on in this watershed.

The Centre could also serve to initiate and coordinate educational activities for the basin including “experiential learning” opportunities for school-aged children and the development of cross-cultural learning opportunities around water and its management (e.g. resource management certificate courses, hands-on learning). Following the models of similar centres elsewhere, this concept will evolve as key individuals, agencies and institutions come together to determine how it can best serve this watershed and, perhaps, a broader audience.

Goal 3: Develop Stewards of the Lake Campaign

Collaborative work within a watershed requires partnerships and this project seeks to find meaningful relationships that will instil a sense of commitment to stewardship as a collective. We believe that a desire to protect our environment starts with learning why and how to respect it and we are developing this respect through our Stewards of the Lake Campaign with our partners.

To date, we have:

  • Stewards of the Lake Nature Series – we are working with partners such as Tourism Kenora and Grand Council Treaty 3 to bring interpretive programming to Kenora – so far, we’ve offered the Birding & Breakfast event and the Discover Tunnel Island & Traditional Breakfast event
  • Discovery Centre Model Shoreline – we are working with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Lake of the Woods District Property Owners’ Association to develop a “model shoreline” at the Discovery Centre with interpretive signage, demonstrations, live rehabilitation, and information on traditional practices
  • Economic Opportunities Conference with a Focus on Water – we are pursuing an economic opportunities conference with Treaty 3 and other partners to talk about resources, including water, and the economic opportunities available.
  • Path of the Paddle – we are linking with the Path of the Paddle project to promote the TransCanada Water Trail through Lake of the Woods and surrounding areas and educational/interpretive opportunities related to water
  • Lake Friendly Business Program! – Our Lake Friendly Business Program is geared to encourage businesses to “go green” and recognize those that go that extra step to be environmentally friendly. We have developed a list of environmental criteria that businesses can use to become recognized as “lake friendly” and receive special designation as part of this program – look for the “We Love Our Lake” logo and “This Business is Lake Friendly” special designation around town to see who got recognized!

The Lake of the Woods project is needed to support our common goal of making the community and quality of life for residents and visitors and our future generations better forever. Kenora’s future and that of the communities around the Lake of the Woods depend on the health and sustainability of the Lake of the Woods watershed. In its re-branding exercise, Kenora has articulated its leadership role in protecting and sustaining the remarkable beauty and integrity of the Lake of the Woods:

“Kenora is North America’s premier boating destination. We are the connection to Lake of the Woods and its 14,522 islands. Through our events and amenities we celebrate our history and build our future. We love our lake; we are its stewards and we nurture its pristine environment.” (Kenora’s Brand Promise)

It is the intent that the City and its partners take an increasingly active role in promoting environmental stewardship, work together at the grassroots level to heighten our involvement at the international scale of watershed protection while enhancing local capacity to carry out needed research/work and develop a mindset within the community that water protection is key to our future’s success. We feel this project is an excellent opportunity to strengthen our Common Ground with our partners with water as the focus.

For more information on this project, please contact Megan Dokuchie, Economic Development Officer at mdokuchie@kenora.ca.