Annual Meeting St. Catharines, ON 2022

This year’s general meeting (AGM) will focus on the theme “Powering the Blue Economy – Leveraging the potential of our freshwater resources”. The program will examine how municipalities can mobilize public and private support to grow their economies through sustainable uses of their most precious resource: the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River.
AGM 2022 Oveview

Thank you to our 145 participants and to the Cities Initiative staff for making this year’s Annual Meeting one the most successful in our organization’s history.

Our detailed discussions regarding the “Blue Economy,” and our members’ valued guidance on how our organization should move forward in supporting the socioeconomic and environmental security of our communities, were extremely fruitful.

Among other decisions, the membership voted to support the creation of a “Blue Economy Taskforce” that will work to promote Blue Economy issues for our cities. Brownfield transformation, tourism, and water innovation will be at the heart of this taskforce.

Please feel free to reach out to Phillipe.Murphy-Rheaume if you wish to serve on our Blue Economy Taskforce.

High-Profile Speakers – We were fortunate to hear from government officials and technical experts from all over the world during our sessions. Some of our speakers included:

  • Michael Regan, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator
  • The Honorable Terry Duguid, Parliament Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change of Canada
  • Chair Brenda Mallory of the U.S. Council of Environmental Quality
  • Cassie Flynn, Strategic Advisor to the U.N. on Climate Change
  • Former Toronto Mayor David Miller
  • Aquanaut Fabien Cousteau
  • The Honorable Chantal Rouleau, Minister for Transport for the Province of Quebec
  • The Honorable Vance Badawey, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indigenous Services
  • Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois
  • Stewart Colovin, Executive Vice President, Global Brand Strategy, MMGY

Strategic Initiatives – The membership formally approved our strategic initiatives for 2022-2025. These initiatives include:

Water Equity – Develop resources, capacity and knowledge to ensure equitable access to high-quality water resources, services and opportunities for municipalities and their citizens.

Blue Economy – Help municipalities sustainably and responsibly leverage economic benefits from local freshwater resources to create an attractive region for all to live, work and play.

Ecosystem Protection – Build the capacity of mayors and their communities to be an effective force in advancing the protection and restoration of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River Basin.

Climate Change & Coastal Resilience – Help municipalities plan for and take action to strengthen their resiliency to impacts from climate change with a focus on the coastal zone.

The Board and our staff look forward to advancing these initiatives in the coming months.

2023 Annual Meeting – Our members have selected Chicago, Illinois, for our next Annual Meeting. The meeting is planned for June 7-9, 2023. Please plan on joining us in Chicago next year as we celebrate our 20th anniversary and chart a path for continued success!

Photos of the Conference

A big thank you to Jonathan Belgrave, our official photographer of the event.
View photos.



Press Releases | Media Coverage

Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River mayors turn attention to growing the region’s blue economy 
June 24, 2022 – Members of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative gathered in Niagara Region, Ontario to hear from government and industry speakers on the power of leveraging the basin’s freshwater resources for economic renewal as part of its annual conference.  Read the press release.

Great Lakes mayors united in support for ambitious Ontario Marine Strategy
June 23, 2022 – Securing the future of Ontario’s blue economy with a dedicated vision for the maritime transport sector should be a priority for the provincial government in its new mandate.  Read the press release.

Calls for Ontario Government to get Moving on Marine Strategy for the Province 
There’s a call from some mayors across Ontario for the government to create a Marine Strategy.  Read more.  Bonnie Heslop, Newstalk 610 CKTB, June 23, 2022

Great Lakes Mayors Team Up to Support Ontario Marine Strategy
Cities Initiative looking to secure funding for competitive marine transport network in Ontario.  Read more.  Linda Morgan, 101.1 More FM, June 23, 2022

A key part of our economic opportunity’: Great Lakes mayors united in call for a provincial marine strategy
Mayors across the province say a marine strategy is needed to stay competitive globally.  Read more.  Nick Fearns, Niagara This Week, June 24, 2022

Ontario Marine Strategy
June 26, 2022 – Mayors from Great Lakes communities and allies from industry are calling on the provincial government to develop and implement a marine strategy.  View the video.


Maximizing the Impact of Federal Investments in Lead Service Line Replacement – A Resolution Submitted by the City of Chicago, IL

Taking a proactive approach and restoring funding for shoreline protection infrastructure along the St. Lawrence Seaway – A Resolution Submitted by the City of Contrecoeur, QC

The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative Leading the Creation of a Bi-National Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Blue Economy Strategy – A Resolution Submitted by The City of Racine, IL and the City of Rimouski, QC

Creating a Great Lakes Authority – A Resolution Submitted by The City Sheboygan, IL

Securing the Future of Canada’s Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Blue Economy Through Strategic Planning and Investments – A Resolution Submitted by St. Catharines, ON

Securing Canada’s $1 Billion Investment in a Freshwater Action Plan – A Resolution Submitted by the Township of Tiny, ON

Regulating Floating Cottages A Resolution Submitted by Township of the Archipelago

Implement a Technical Assistance Program for U.S. Federal Infrastructure Grant Applications – A Resolution Submitted by the City of Zion, IL

Join us in St. Catharines - Niagara


We will come together under the theme Powering the Blue Economy: Leveraging the potential of our freshwater resources.

Come Learn About:

Branding our Freshwater Resources to Grow the Regional Economy | Waterfront Revitalization and Development | Tourism | Maritime Commerce and Working Waterfronts | Water Technology Clusters | Innovative Municipal Financing


St. Catharines, Ontario
White Oaks Resort and Spa

Venue Links:

Travel and Conference Logistics

Below are several logistical items we want to share with you prior to your arrival.

We are very excited to welcome everyone in a few short days to Niagara-on-the-Lake for the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative Annual General Meeting at the White Oaks Conference Center (June 22-24).  ALL TRAVELERS COMING INTO CANADA MUST UPLOAD THEIR ITINERARY AND VACCINATION INFORMATION in the ArriveCAN app – whether it is your first time or a new visit since the pandemic.  The border control guards are very strict about this requirement. This information must be uploaded within 72 hours BEFORE your arrival to Canada.  For more information, visit

If you have never done this before, go to the app store on your phone, search for the app (look for the icon above), download the app and create an account.  Continue to follow the steps to include your itinerary as well as uploading copies of your vaccination card, etc. If you already have the app downloaded because you have traveled to Canada since the beginning of the pandemic, you still need to upload your new itinerary.

Covid Protocol:

Click here to review COVID protocols for entering Canada.
Click here to review COVID protocols for entering U.S.

Questions or need assistance?  Please contact the GLSLCI office at 312.201.4518 or email


The Conference kicks off on Tuesday evening, June 21 with a welcome dessert reception at 8:00 p.m. at our conference hotel (White Oaks Conference Resort & Spa) on the Garden Patio. We hope you can join us for a relaxing evening to reconnect.  If not, plan to begin your conference experience on Wednesday morning, June 22 with breakfast at 7:30 a.m. and our program beginning at 8:20 a.m.

In the spirit of being environmentally friendly, all conference materials including the full agenda will be housed on our conference app, Event Cadence.  In the next couple of days, you will be receiving a welcome email which includes log-in instructions.  If you don’t receive an email by Friday, June 17 please be sure to check your spam folder. You are strongly encouraged to download the app on your phone. Once downloaded, you can review the full agenda, see who else is attending and begin networking with fellow members and guests.

Attire for the majority of the conference is business casual. The Experiential Tours are casual. The Awards Dinner on Thursday evening, June 23rd is “evening appropriate.”  Like most large conference centers, a light sweater is recommended to have available during the day as meeting room temperatures can get chilly.

White Oaks Conference Resort & Spa
253 Taylor Road
Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON LOS 1JO, Canada

White Oaks has a large outdoor parking lot for guests who are driving at no cost.

If you are traveling by air and need transportation to/from the hotel, click here to view some recommended options for your consideration. The fee assessed is your responsibility. Please book in advance vs. waiting to secure transportation the day of your arrival.

We are unable to accommodate any refunds.  If you cannot attend, we encourage you to transfer your registration.  Please contact 312.201.4518 to transfer your registration.

Please do not hesitate to contact the GLSLCI office at any time:

Kyle Hills
Executive Assistant
312.201.4518 – office


Click here to view draft agenda.

*Subject to change

View Brochure

Tuesday, June 21 – Arrival Dessert Reception (7:30pm-9:00pm)

Wednesday, June 22 – Day 1 – Branding and Waterfront Revitalization (7:30am-9:30pm)

  • Plenary – Branding Your Community and the Region for Success
  • Breakout – Cruising to Success: Leveraging Economic Opportunities from Cruise Tourism
  • Breakout – Brownfields to Blue Horizons: Developing Our Waterfronts for the 21st Century
  • Michael Regan, Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Brenda Mallory, Chair, U.S. Council on Environmental Quality Office of the President – Brenda Mallory is the 12th Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ).
  • Cassie Flynn – Cassie is the Head of Climate Strategies and Policy at United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and leads the world’s largest program under the Paris Agreement. She is an internationally recognized expert on the treaty negotiations on climate change, advising the UNDP Administrator, Heads of State, Ministers, policymakers, and CEOs. She is also the creator of Mission 1.5 and the Peoples’ Climate Vote that used gaming to become the world’s largest-ever survey to drive climate action.
  • Richard Spinrad, Ph.D., Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and the 11th NOAA Administrator
  • 2022 Membership Meeting
  • Annual Gala – Tastes of Canada – The Gala will be hosted at Queen Victoria Place Restaurant, at the edge of the Canadian side of Niagara Falls – Regional food stations, entertainment, the view of the illuminated Falls at night

Thursday, June 23 – Day 2 – Infrastructure and Innovation (7:30am-10:00pm)

  • Plenary – Plugging the Holes – Innovative Municipal Financing
  • Breakout – Highway H2O: Tapping into the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway
  • Breakout – BlueTech Roundup: Catalyzing Water Innovation Hubs
  • Terry Duguid, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Canada
  • Fabien Cousteau – “The Blue Economy – Intersections Between the Environment and the Economy” – This year’s keynote speaker is aquanaut and ocean conservationist Fabien Cousteau. Mr. Cousteau will deliver a riveting address on the important intersection between environmental stewardship and economic resilience
  • Experiential Tours – 1)  Port Dalhousie – Enjoy the shores of Lake Ontario in Port Dalhousie, a charming heritage district with a history deeply rooted in the development of the Welland Canals and commerce and industry associated with Great Lakes shipping during the 19th Century. Explore Lakeside Park and its sandy beach, take a spin on the historic Lakeside Park Carousel, walk on the newly rehabilitated piers – a $26-million project by the Government of Canada, and enjoy a beautiful waterfront vista that looks out to the Toronto skyline. While in Port Dalhousie, attendees will also enjoy local craft beer and Niagara wine tastings. 2)  St. Catharines Museum and Welland Canals Centre – Enjoy a stop along the Welland Canal that is home to extraordinary historical collections and exhibits that feature local St. Catharines perspectives, artifacts and stories of the area and its canals. Delegates will enjoy a tour and talk at the museum, be able to watch ships transit the canal on the Lock 3 viewing platform, and visit the Welland Canal Fallen Workers Memorial – which honours the lives of the 138 workers who died while building the Welland Canal from 1913 to 1936.
  • 2022 Cities Initiative Awards Dinner

Friday, June 24 – Day 3 – Enjoy Your Day in St. Catharines (7:30am)

  • Tours Available – Niagara Vineyards, Niagara Breweries, Niagara Falls by Boat, golf outing, watersports along St. Catharines’ coast

Speaker Lineup

Wednesday, June 22

Cassie FlynnCassie is the Head of Climate Strategies and Policy at United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and leads the world’s largest program under the Paris Agreement. She is an internationally recognized expert on the treaty negotiations on climate change, advising the UNDP Administrator, Heads of State, Ministers, policymakers, and CEOs. She is also the creator of Mission 1.5 and the Peoples’ Climate Vote that used gaming to become the world’s largest-ever survey to drive climate action.

Brenda Mallory, Chair, U.S. Council on Environmental Quality Office of the President – Brenda Mallory is the 12th Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). She is the first African American to serve in this position. As Chair, she advises President Biden on environmental and natural resources policies that improve, preserve, and protect public health and the environment for America’s communities. She is focused particularly on addressing the environmental justice and climate change challenges the nation faces while advancing opportunities for job growth and economic development.

Richard (Rick) W. Spinrad, Ph.D., Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and the 11th NOAA Administrator – Dr. Spinrad is responsible for the strategic direction and oversight of the agency and its over 12,000 employees, including developing NOAA’s portfolio of products and services to address the climate crisis, enhancing environmental sustainability and fostering economic development, and creating a more just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive NOAA workforce.

Thursday, June 23

Fabien Cousteau – Deep Ocean Explorer and Environmentally-conscious Business Strategist, Grandson of the Legendary Explorer Jacques Cousteau – Fabien Cousteau challenges you to develop innovative solutions to environmental problems by cultivating your own spirit of curiosity and adventure.

This grandson of legendary explorer Jacque-Yves Cousteau, Fabien continues to fulfill his family’s legacy of protecting and preserving the planet’s extensive and endangered marine inhabitants and habitats. As an accomplished aquanaut, business strategist and documentary filmmaker, Fabien draws from his experiences and knowledge to promote environmental discipline as a viable basis for cutting-edge solutions that strike a balance between regional and global environmental problems and the realities of market economies.

Terry Duguid,  Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada.  He was born and raised in Winnipeg. Terry was elected as the Member of Parliament for Winnipeg South in 2015 and was re-elected in 2019. He is proud to serve this diverse riding, comprising people from over 100 countries of origin, and including significant Franco-Manitoban, Métis and First Nations communities. It is the most rapidly growing electoral district in Manitoba and is home to the University of Manitoba.

Vance M. Badawey
 MP is a Canadian Liberal politician, who was elected to represent the riding of Niagara Centre in the House of Commons of Canada in the 2015 federal election.[2][3]   Badawey was first elected to the city council of Port Colborne in 1994, serving until 1997, at which point he was elected mayor. He retired from mayoral office in 2003, but sought another term in 2006, serving until 2014. He was simultaneously elected as a councilor for the Regional Municipality of Niagara, and served on the Police Services Board. He currently resides in Port Colborne.[4]   

Jayme White, Ambassador, Deputy United States Trade Representative – Mr. White has served in the US Senate since 2009, including as the chief trade advisor for the Senate Committee on Finance since 2014, under the leadership of Chairman Ron Wyden. During this tenure, White led efforts to level the playing field for American workers, through trade negotiations and agreements, and by reforming US trade laws to better respond to unfair foreign trade practices. In his role on the Finance Committee, he has long represented and advanced bipartisan US views to foreign trade leaders, and the outcomes of those efforts are evident in many trade agreements. Key provisions — especially enforceable measures on labor and the environment — found in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) are a result of his efforts.

Click here to view our Speaker Lineup.

Hotel Accommodations | Transportation

White Oaks Resort & Spa – Our room block is now closed.  Please contact the hotel directly to check availability.

White Oaks Resort & Spa
253 Taylor Road SS4 | Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario

Alternative Hotels

Hilton Garden
Holiday Inn Suites


Transportation Options

Things To Do in St. Catharines - Niagara
World-Class Vineyards and Micro Breweries | Casino | Stunning Golf Courses | Fine Dining | Theaters and Shows | Niagara Falls | Charter Boat Fishing | Watersports.  The Niagara Region has so much to offer visitors. Click here for a sneak peek at some of the activities you can enjoy.
Thank you to our 2022 Conference Sponsors

Host Cities

Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Basin

St. Lawrence Sponsor


Huron Sponsors

Erie Sponsors

Community Champion
Brock University
Heddle Shipyards
Niagara Parks Commission


Sponsorship Opportunities

Partner with the Cities Initiative to support Canadian and U.S. mayors and political leaders working to protect and restore the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.  Through your sponsorship, you will get the attention of more than 100 political and community leaders at our 2022 annual general meeting (AGM) in St. Catharines, Ontario and demonstrate your commitment to preserving our precious freshwater resource.

View Sponsorship Opportunities.