The Future of the St. Lawrence River at Cornwall, Ontario Post-Remedial Action Plan (RAP): Navigating toward Sustainability
Ritcey, Alicia Laura
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This thesis undertakes a review of the Remedial Action Plans (RAPs) for the St. Lawrence River Area of Concern (AOC). As directed by Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, RAPs are to take a systematic and comprehensive ecosystem approach to restoration, and ensure that the public is consulted about restoration activities. Through triangulation of three different research methods: twelve semi-structured interviews, observational research, and document analysis, this research explores how these two principles were incorporated into the St. Lawrence River AOC. This research draws from environmental management and governance literature in order to describe the implementation and decision-making frameworks of the RAP program. In theory an ecosystem approach is to be holistic and comprehensive in scope and application. In terms of the St. Lawrence River AOC, the holistic nature of the restoration process was hindered by the jurisdictional complexity of the region; Not only was there two federal governments, Canada and the United States, but the province of Ontario, state of New York, and the Mohawks of Akwesasne Nation. These jurisdictional divisions led to the eventual decision to separate the AOC into two RAPs at Massena, NY and Cornwall, ON. This division led to a divergence in impairment indicator identification and resultant restoration practices, timelines for RAP progress reports, availability of financial resources, and collective organization of restoration duties. The goal of each RAP is to eventually delist as an AOC. Through a review of the collective organization of the Cornwall RAP, it is best described as participatory and inclusive in terms of governance. There was representation and membership from government, industry, First Nations, and the public making the Cornwall RAP an example of solidarity in action. Because there has been a unification of visions through the RAP process, which is to have a clean and health St. Lawrence River, momentum has been generated to expand the ideals of the RAP to a broader St. Lawrence River collective. Lessons learned from this restoration process are constructive for cross-jurisdictional, multi-media restoration projects and serve to inform approaches to ecosystem restoration, planning, and management, especially that of the St. Lawrence River.