It would appear that the Harper government is prepared to close the Experimental Lakes Area on March 31.
The Dryden Observer reports, “The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), which oversees the world-renowned, full-ecosystem research facility that is slated for closure on March 31, has notified Ontario it wishes to end their 1993 Memorandum Of Agreement.”
While the Harper government had stated an option was to transfer ownership of the ELA to a new operator, and the federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Keith Ashfield stated earlier this week that was still being pursued, it does not appear that they are now actively pursuing this, rather just that they ‘would consider such a proposal based on its merits’.
A statement from David Orazietti, Ontario’s minister of natural resources, says, “The DFO has notified Ontario it wants to terminate the (memorandum) and the DFO will be required to remediate and rehabilitate the area. If a group or organization wishes to take over the land they would have to formally approach the Ministry of Natural Resources and we would consider such a proposal based on its merits. There would have to be a new (memorandum) if a proposal goes forward.”
The DFO has not published cost estimates for the remediation work required to close the ELA, but it has been estimated at $50 million. The ELA itself has a modest $2 million annual operating budget, meaning it could operate for almost another 25 years for the cost of the closure of this research facility.
The news article adds, “John Shearer is a retired senior biologist and operations manager at ELA who now speaks for the national activist organization, The Coalition To Save ELA. ‘Our sense from the very beginning was they didn’t have any intention to keep the facility operating, either themselves or under any other jurisdiction,’ he said.”