The Freshwater Restoration Ecology Centre was sort of founded on the principal that for the last several decades there has been
multiple efforts to clean up the waterways, the fish, the environment around the Great
Lakes and the waterways surrounding those Great Lakes. And so the Freshwater Restoration Ecology Centre really consolidates the expertise into one location here on the Detroit River in LaSalle, Ont. and allows students and faculty to conduct cutting-edge research on questions about how we restore the environment back to a state that it was prior to contamination and prior to industrial usage in the area. So this facility really is based on the idea that we have this system called a mecocosm system where we can simulate small waterways, ponds and lakes and essentially test ideas from ecology and the environmental sciences using these mecocosms. By having these mecocosms, ideas around water research and fish research and other areas can be tested in situ, that is to say in the lab setting, and then brought out to the real world. This project really started because there was a need for consolidation of expertise around restoration ecology of the Great Lakes and the Town of LaSalle was instrumental in getting this project up and running by donating both space on the river and also cash resources towards the building in collaboration with the University of Windsor. And this relationship has been going on for some time now and LaSalle is known for its access to waterways, and access to fishing resources and water and because of that relationship, and the relationship now we have with the University, this is a new collaboration that we have fostered for several years now. So this provides students with a unique opportunity to practice what we teach them on campus So they go to class on campus, they read about restoration ecology, they read about environmental science and then they can come here to this facility and have hands-on experience, experiential learning about some of these issues related to the Great Lakes and water in general. So this centre is not just solely focused on research, it also has an incredibly important community component where we engage the community, we bring in school children to visit the facility and learn about water quality, they learn about fish health, they learn about the environment in general. Because of this relationship, we have teachers that are helping to set up programs that fit within the province’s curriculum. I think the opening is an exciting time for both the Town of LaSalle and the University, and also the community. It really allows everybody to come together in one place to work hard to restore the Great Lakes.