Local response good for Stop the Drop campaign

MANITOULIN—Local response was good to canvassing done by representatives of the Stop the Drop campaign to garner further local support of the initiative at the Little Current Swing Bridge 100th anniversary celebrations held in July.

“We had a good response at the Bridgefest celebrations and have had strong support from Manitoulin and the south shore, and the northeastern shore the campaign is just starting to get going,” said Colin Dobell, former board member of the Georgian Bay Association and now a founder and (unpaid) executive director of the Water Level Alliance. The Stop the Drop campaign is a grassroots effort aimed at engaging the public and gathering over 20,000 electronic signatures by August 1 with the goal of pressuring the provincial and federal governments into taking concrete action to reverse the precipitous drop in Great Lakes water levels.

“We added between 200-300 additional people to fill out the online form and support the campaign,” Mr. Dobell told the Recorder.

“By Labour Day we want to have 20,000 people having signed the (online) petition,” said Mr. Dobell, who pointed out, “as everyone is aware, what’s been happening is that water levels have been edging up with the spring we had, and even a lot of the people who are concerned about the lower water levels have not come forward. So what we are doing is canvassing people to join our campaign, and after the Swing Bridge celebrations and the long weekend in August we expect to have 10,000 signed up before the long weekend in August.”

“There are between three and four big events every weekend during July and August that we will be attending, in places such as Meaford and Collingwood, and I think easily can make 15,000 by mid-August,” said Mr. Dobell. He explained the petitions will be sent to elected representatives, including municipal, provincial and local MPPs for them to take this issue forward.”

Mr. Dobell said the higher water levels this summer, “is a temporary thing. Every year the water levels go up and down, and this spring we received quite a bit of rain so the levels came up a bit. In the grand scheme of things, at this time of the year the average Joe just wants to know he can get his boat in the water. But this doesn’t detract from their being interested and concerned in the actual drop in water levels over the years.”

Mr. Dobell noted that exiting efforts to lobby for water level issues normally are advocating or focussed on a particular solution and these efforts tend to be speaking to the same small group of committed people. Those groups tend to be focussed on different angles and use a language that can be confusing to the wrong person.

The Water Level Alliance hopes to accomplish its goal by bringing a different perspective on the science behind the issues facing the Great Lakes basin.

The group’s tools include a website, stopthedrop.ca, where interested parties can find the available information put together in a cohesive and coherent collection, a team of four paid interns whose mandate is to inform the public on the issues at various summer venues over the coming months, and through large billboards and signs, radio, television and print advertising and a frenzied schedule of one on one and group interactions. Included in this campaign participants will be invited to publish articles on the website, so long as they are factual. They will be moderated as well.

As reported previously, the Stop the Drop campaign mission is to engage users in sustained self-education, dialogue and activity to address water levels issues in Georgian Bay. Its goal is to have 20,000 registrants by Labour Day, with 3,000 of this total being promised by the Manitoulin Area Stewardship Council, will come from Manitoulin Island.

Interested persons can join the campaign by going online at www.stopthedrop.ca.

 Tom Sasvari