The Great Lakes Geographer

Volume 13, 2006
Special Issue on Great Lakes Shoreline Management



Patrick Lawrence

Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toledo


Great Lakes Hazards Planning: Experience from Southeastern Ontario

Rob McRae and Sean Watt

Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority
P.O. Box 160, Glenburnie, Ontario, Canada K0H 1S0


Shorelines are desirable places to live, work, and play, but are also subject to flooding, erosion, and the movement of dynamic beaches. Such hazards can result in damage to property and the natural environment, social disruption, personal injuries, and loss of life. Increasing shoreline development has led to the need for public policies and regulations that effectively minimize the negative impacts of natural hazards. The paper outlines the experience of the co-authors in planning for natural hazards along the shoreline of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River in Southeastern Ontario. Four case studies are reviewed to illustrate the diversity and complexity in the work. The authors suggest that sound engineering practices and clear communication with landowners about hazards can foster appropriate development. The paper concludes with six best practices for engineering and policy in managing shoreline hazards.

Keywords: erosion, flooding, hazards, Ontario, planning, shoreline


Helping Canadians Adapt to Climate Change in the Great Lakes Coastal Zone

Mark E. Taylor

Amec Earth and Environmental, EcoMatrix Inc.
160 Traderis Blvd. East, Suite 110, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada L4Z 3K7

Paul A. Gray

Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
300 Water Street, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada K9J 8H5

Karl Schiefer

EcoMetrix Inc.
14 Abacus Road, Brampton, Ontario Canada


As global warming increases, Great Lakes coastal communities will be subjected to significant climatic changes driven by increasing temperature, changing precipitation and wind patterns, and a potential increase in the frequency of severe events such as windstorms and ice storms. Climate change will impact all life in every ecosystem, and people who live and work in these systems will need to adapt in a variety of ways. In response, a number of agencies and organizations have partnered to assist Great Lakes coastal communities in their efforts to identify and assess adaptation options. To date, workshops have been completed in Belleville (Lake Ontario) and Parry Sound (Lake Huron). This paper reviews some of the known and potential impacts that will result in or near Presqu’ile Provincial Park, Lake Ontario and in Sturgeon Bay, Lake Huron, and proposes a checklist of actions that could provide the basis for an adaptation protocol.

Keywords: climate change, Great Lakes, Presqu’ile Provincial Park, Sturgeon Bay


Contribution of the International Joint Commission to Great Lakes Renewal

G. Krantzberg, M. Bratzel and J. McDonald

Centre for Engineering and Public Policy, Regional Office
McMaster University, International Joint Commission Great Lakes


The Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 established the International Joint Commission (IJC) as an organization designed to resolve disputes and to avoid conflicts over transboundary environmental matters. Article IV of the Treaty provides the provision that neither party shall cause pollution that would injure the health or property of the other side. In 1972, the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA) was created with the goal of enhancing and maintaining the quality of the waters of the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem. The Agreement is considered to be a standing reference under the Boundary Waters Treaty. The signators or “Parties” to the GLWQA are the federal governments of Canada and the United States who commit to collaborate with other governmental jurisdictions within the Great Lakes basin. The IJC does not have authority for implementation of the GLWQA, but serves to alert, advise and assist the governments in achieving their goals under the Agreement. This paper draws on empirical evidence and experiential knowledge to report on the role of the IJC in the GLWQA, and its achievements in advancing the goal of enhancing and maintaining ecosystem health in the world’s largest freshwater ecosystem, the Great Lakes.

Keywords: ecosystem approach, virtual elimination, remedial action plans


Management of Lake Huron’s Beach and Dune Ecosystems: Building up from the Grassroots

Geoffrey Peach

Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation
P.O. Box 178, Blyth, Ontario N0M 1H0


Dune systems along the southeastern shores of Lake Huron have become severely impacted as the result of increases in recreational activities and shoreline development. Dune conservation activities at Lake Huron’s provincial parks have occurred only within the past 20 to 25 years. Activities on dunes outside of the parks, including municipal and private lands, have only occurred within the last ten years. Grassroots organizations have initiated efforts to conserve dune systems locally. The Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation is a non-government organization that is supporting local groups with technical expertise to develop management plans and guidance manuals for implementing sound conservation practices. Its conservation model is focused on community education about dune ecosystems, controlled public access in dune areas, and dune restoration. This paper presents some recent examples of grassroots initiatives in the communities of Southampton and Sauble Beach, along the southeastern shores of Lake Huron. The future of Lake Huron’s dunes, and their conservation, will depend on community grassroots involvement, municipal cooperation and participation, and on sufficient government funding.

Keywords:dune system, conservation, management plan, beach erosion, beach raking, Sauble Beach, Southampton


Organizing and Assessing Information for Great Lakes Shoreline Community Based Decision-Making

Patrick L. Lawrence

Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toledo
Toledo, Ohio 43606


Along the Great Lakes shoreline are found many significant environmental areas that are under increasing pressure from human development and land use activities. The local communities in these areas often lack the necessary basic information available, organized and assessed in such a manner to assist in environmental, land use, development and related decisionmaking activities. To address this concern for the Long Point area on the north shore of Lake Erie an Environmental Folio was prepared to identify the key planning and management issues in the context of significance, stresses, and responses for abiotic, biotic and cultural resources. The results highlight the importance of the unique geological and biological characteristics of Long Point, the range of important natural habitats and presence of rare and threatened plant and animal species, and the cultural aspect of land uses and conservation efforts. The development of the folio suggests the necessity of preparing information in such a manner and by means to provide the basis for the identification of key principles for community based decision-making along the Great Lakes shoreline which include acknowledging those outstanding natural areas, planning as a cooperative venture, the important role of raising public understanding and awareness of such areas, and considering Long Point and similar shoreline environs as essential to the human landscape of North America.

Keywords: planning, community decision-making, Great Lakes, Lake Erie