Become a Member

The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative is a coalition of mayors and other local officials advocating for the protection and restoration of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River. The organization was founded in May 2003 by Mayor Richard M. Daley of Chicago, joined shortly thereafter by Toronto Mayor David Miller, the founding Canadian Chair. The Cities Initiative has over 130 member cities in the United States and Canada demonstrating the stewardship of local elected officials across the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence basin and a responsibility at the local level to enhance and sustain the Lakes and River.

Importance of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence to Mayors

Mayors in the basin have a direct interest and stake in the sustainability of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence. As the world's largest freshwater resource and an international treasure, they are essential to the continued vitality of the cities, townships, villages and counties along the shores and in the surrounding watershed.

The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence support countless recreational, commercial, tourist and cultural activities for citizens and visitors; drive economic development and improve the economic value of shoreline communities; support critical aquatic and coastal ecosystems; provide fresh drinking water for millions of people; and support agricultural and industrial activities.

Why a Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative?

Despite such a significant stake in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence, mayors did not have an active voice in the development and implementation of policies and programs in the past. The Cities Initiative provides an avenue for the participation of local government in decision-making related to the Lakes and River as well as a network for restoration and protection best practices sharing between cities.

With the active involvement of local leaders from across the basin we can ensure that the mayors have a seat at the table in policy and decision-making about the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River. The Cities Initiative has been a key participant in the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration in the United States, has been involved in the review of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, and is expanding its role in the Canada Ontario Agreement Respecting the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem and the St. Lawrence Plan.

Protecting, improving and preserving the Lakes and River are critical to ensuring public and environmental health as well as the economic prosperity of all Great Lakes and St. Lawrence communities. The Cities Initiative supports local efforts towards these goals through its overarching themes of water quality, water conservation, and waterfront vitality.

Incentive Program

The Cities Initiative offers a 25% discount on first-year membership dues. First-time members joining are invited to take advantage of this offer.

If you have any questions about membership or would like more information about the Cities Initiative, please contact Jonathan Altenberg, President and CEO, at

Download Cities Initiative Membership Documents

Regular Dues Structure

 Size of City  Annual Dues
0 – 1,000 $550
1,000 – 2,500 $1,100
2,500 – 5,000 $1,650
5,000 – 10,000 $2,200
10,000 – 25,000 $2,750
25,000 – 50,000 $3,300
50,000 – 75,000 $4,400
75,000 – 100,000 $5,500
100,000 – 250,000 $7,700
250,000 – 500,000 $11,000
 500,000 – 1,000,000 $16,500
1,000,000 – 2,000,000 $22,000
2,000,000 – 3,000,000 $27,500

**Canadian dues will be paid in Canadian dollars and U.S. dues in U.S. dollars. Counties or Regions may join at half the price if cities representing more than half of their population are already members.

**** Please address checks to Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative and mail to:
Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative
P.O. Box 1332
New Lenox, IL  60451