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Roundtable to be held on Lake Ontario water level regulating plan

YOUNGSTOWN – The Niagara USA Chamber invites the public to a roundtable discussion at 9 a.m. Tuesday regarding opposition to the controversial Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Plan 2014, which would regulate water levels on Lake Ontario.

The meeting is set for the Officers’ Quarters at Old Fort Niagara.

The forum will feature a wide range of speakers, including Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence, and elected officials from the affected counties of Niagara, Orleans, Wyoming and Monroe. The panel also will include business leaders and tourism experts concerned over the water level plan calling for higher highs and lower lows.

There also will be an opportunity to sign a petition to be submitted to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo urging him to veto this legislation.

The Chamber opposes the International Joint Commission’s (IJC) adoption of Plan 2014, citing the negative impacts on the tourism industry, commercial fishing, boaters and residents.

“This plan strikes at the heart of these communities and the IJC has offered no solutions to offset the negative economic impact,” said Deanna Alterio Brennen, the Chamber’s president and CEO.

The Chamber cites the IJC’s acknowledgment of at least a 13 percent projected rise in the costs felt by property owners, municipalities and businesses along the shoreline for such items as erosion damage and maintenance or even replacement of seawalls and breakwaters.

It contends that the plan comes at a time when the affected communities are already trying to recover from economic depression.

The Chamber also cites statements made by the National Research Council and Royal Society of Canada that the study used by the IJC to reach its decision is inadequate. While the IJC responded that criticisms have been addressed, the Chamber is not convinced.

“The federal government must recognize the immediate and long-term effects this plan will have,” said Anthony McKenna, chair of the Chamber’s legislative committee. “If there are uncertainties or questions regarding this plan, then it should not be enacted. While we need to respect the need for good environmental policies, this is not one of them.”

This event is free and light refreshments will be served, but space is limited and reservations are recommended by calling Maria at the Chamber offices at 285-9142.