In late March 2021, the Niagara Regional Council voted to support the idea of a Ramsar designation of the Niagara River, under the 1971 Ramsar Convention, with a designation as a wetland of international importance. The Convention on Wetlands of International importance – called the Ramsar Convention because it was signed in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971 – is a voluntary treaty, committed to encouraging education and sustainability by acknowledging globally important wetlands through designation.
But the Niagara Region approval was couched in language that reflects the sentiment of some people who say they do not want to support any environmental measure that might somehow someday possibly be used as a reason to restrict property development or farming practices.
Friends of One Mile Creek (FOMC) supports the Ramsar designation.
“The Niagara River has a long legacy of industrial waste and contamination. Canada has the opportunity to change the narrative of the Niagara River, as the United States did last year, through the designation of a Ramsar site, to a globally recognized area known for its rich biodiversity, health and prosperity,” says the September 2020 submission by FOMC.
“We understand this designation will open up greater opportunities for expanding tourism programming, promote increased public awareness of the River’s importance to global biodiversity through research and development, and allow the Niagara River region to further foster cooperation and partnership between the United States and Canada to ensure conservation both within and around the Niagara River Corridor.”
Unfortunately, the Niagara on the Lake councillor on Regional Council, Gary Zalepa, has been a vocal opponent of the Ramsar designation, but he has not detailed specific reasons why he is opposed.
The Regional approval moves the process along, but was limited in the nature of its support:
” 1. That the Regional Municipality of Niagara ENDORSE the nomination of the
Niagara River as a Wetland of International Importance (Ramsar Site);
“2. That Regional Council RECOGNIZES and SUPPORTS the continuation of
legal drawing and drainage of water by the farming community for irrigation
and agricultural purposes from the Niagara River; and
“3. That there be NO regional financial commitments or staff time attributed to
Here is the text of FOMC’s support for the Ramsar designation:FOMC-Ramsar-Letter-of-Endorsement-2020-1
More information is available at ourniagarariver.ca/ramsar.