Waterkeeper’s Note: On July 8, 2016, Waterkeeper Mark Mattson arrived in Toronto on our boat, the Angus Bruce, to launch the Swimmable Lake Ontario campaign. After seeing clean, blue water all the way from Wolfe Island to the GTA, Mark and his crew spotted a 2km stretch of waste floating in Lake Ontario, just off of Ashbridges Bay in the Beach neighbourhood.
Famed open water swimmer Marilyn Bell read the coverage of the event. As Lake Ontario’s first “Swim Drink Fish Ambassador,” Marilyn was quick to lend her voice for the lake that has a big place in her heart. Here’s her message:
Lake Ontario is calling me again, but this time it is for a very different reason.
Right now Lake Ontario needs my voice and the voice of all those who venture down to our beaches with the assumption that the water they visit, is a safe place to swim, drink, and fish.
The news Lake Ontario Waterkeeper provided regarding the 2km mass of pollution uncovered on Lake Ontario recently has moved me to lend my voice today in the hopes that I can help raise the awareness and continue to promote the message of what has become a critical situation for our fresh water source. I am simply horrified by this discovery and the current health of our beautiful lake.
During my time swimming in Lake Ontario in the 40s and 50s, where I swam as a child and later trained as a marathon swimmer, water quality was never an issue.
But today those same places where I swam in are no longer welcoming to my children and grandchildren.
As our city prepares to celebrate its 150th anniversary, there is much reflection on what used to be and what has dramatically changed over those years. Most of those changes have been positive, however for our primary source of water, Lake Ontario and its quality and health, that change is a very negative one.
By lending my voice and support to Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, I hope to help the efforts in making our water healthy so that my great grandchildren will experience the same joy and excitement as I did at the thought of running to jump in our Lake Ontario. Not running away from it.
We must call on our leaders to look at the long-term effects of this situation now in order to ensure we are leaving the lake in a healthy state for the future generation of Canadians.
-- Marilyn Bell DiLascio
Marilyn Bell was one of the first Swim Drink Fish Ambassadors honoured at the 2016 Waterkeeper Gala.