It occurred to me several years ago that cities along the Great Lakes shoreline really missed the boat; in fact several boats! In terms of servicing the needs of the community, the Great Lakes have tremendous economic potential in supporting commercial fisheries, but these values were not managed in a sustainable way. Depressingly, of course this is the common theme of fisheries around the world.
In terms of quality of life, living next to a Great Lake should provide fantastic recreational opportunities. My childhood was shaped by many sunny beach days spent on the sand and waters of Lake Huron. The spiritual aspect of spending a day swimming and playing on a seemingly endless beach surely sets a person free. These benefits are not realized along industrailized, polluted or inaccessible city waterfronts.
Tourism industry is another big missed opportunity. Why aren’t there miles of beach dotted with little shops, resorts, etc in places like Toronto? Unnabated development, lack of vision and greed lead to industrialization, pollution, and innaccessibility of the waterfront. In my dreams, Lake Ontario waterfront would look a little like the Gulf of Mexico (O.K. maybe not quite as intensly developed as some stretches, but you get the idea).
Years of storm sewer runoff, medical waste, industrial chemical contamination and agricultural pollution have deviled these fresh water wonders of our earth. We have been brutal stewards.
The time has come for people to join together and TAKE BACK THE GREAT LAKES. A person doesn’t need much in the way of material things to be happy at the beach. Spending time near big water puts life in perspective for people; always changing, full of potential, precious. People should not have to settle for driving for hours to find such refuge and opportunity when the very that very thing should be minutes away, like it was for the people who originally settle along the lakes.