The culture of the Seaway has historically been resistant to outside input. Initiatives which directly impact the vitality of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River are often developed behind closed doors. On the U.S. side, the Seaway is governed by the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC). It is advised by a 5-person President-appointed Advisory Board and accountable to the Department of Transportation. On the Canadian side, the Seaway is managed by the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC). It is a not-for-profit organization set up by the government, accountable to its board of directors. In order for current and future challenges to be recognized and incorporated into the decision making process, agency governance needs to be reformed.
Good governance, accountability and transparency are essential to ensuring that decision makers receive and properly evaluate all the information necessary to make informed policy or regulatory decisions and that the public has access to enough information to help shape and review government decisions. Public involvement in Seaway planning must reflect a willingness on behalf of the agencies themselves to be challenged to move in a sustainable direction and to change a longstanding culture that caters only to a narrow group of stakeholders. Public involvement offers an opportunity to develop plans that are compatible with goals of Great Lakes restoration and ensure that the Seaway and the shipping industry operate sustainably for the next 50 years and beyond.
- Expand the interests represented on the SLSDC Advisory Board and SLSMC Board of Directors to include resource management agencies, such as members of the U.S. Great Lakes Interagency Task Force.
- Create a binational multi-stakeholder working group to provide advice to both boards on making navigation decisions that are compatible with Great Lakes restoration priorities.
- Provide improved electronic notification and access to Seaway activities, policies, and regulations.