Communities along the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River are preparing for change and strengthening their resiliency through the Coastal Lakeshore Economy and Resiliency (CLEAR) Initiative. In recent years, shoreline communities along Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence River, and across the Great Lakes, have experienced significant variability, with extreme flood and low-water level events occurring over shorter periods of time. In 2017 and 2019, lake levels rose higher than ever recorded; shortly removed from a period of extremely low water levels in the early 2010s. During these recent flooding events, unprecedented lake levels, heavy rainfall events, and increased development along the shoreline combined to cause millions of dollars in damages to businesses, homes, and public recreational areas.

CLEAR was initiated in late 2020 by the New York State Department of State (NYS DOS) to support local communities with adaptation to extreme water level variability (i.e., high and low water events) along Lake Ontario, the lower Niagara River and the St. Lawrence River.  This program aims to address community vulnerability and exposure to changes in lake levels through forward looking approaches that strengthen, complement, and/or facilitate economic development for the region. The intent is to help communities adopt more resilient approaches to shoreline management, land use, and development to reduce the recurrence of damages associated with changing water levels.

CLEAR Plans are intended to reflect the diverse perspectives, needs, interests, and watersheds within each region surrounding Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. The Planning Team for each region will develop these plans under the guidance of NYS DOS and a regional Steering Committee that reflects the socio-economic and geographic diversity of the region, including vulnerable and under-served populations. This planning effort will utilize a robust community engagement process to learn from, educate, and empower the public and local representatives through a series of community workshops and stakeholder outreach.

Throughout this process, the Steering Committee, NYS DOS, and the Planning Team will refine strategies and recommendations intended to assist local communities with the establishment of a more resilient shoreline by:

  • Engaging coastal communities to plan for and inform a vision that is reflective of the community’s assets, values, and goals
  • Seeking stakeholder input on ideas, concerns, and priorities for community resiliency
  • Educating stakeholders and respond to community questions about coastal and community resiliency planning
  • Communicating the implications of proposed implementation measures to the public
  • Enhancing public participation through various outreach methods that involve groups that do not typically attend public meetings or participate online 

Separate plans were developed for each of five CLEAR regions along the Lake Ontario, St. Lawrence River and Niagara River shorelines.  Internal reviews of the plans were completed by the NYS Department of State (NYSDOS) at the end of March 2022 and now, with the help of CLEAR consultants, an implementation strategy is being developed. 

To view the final CLEAR plan and our community’s municipal profile, project profiles not included, please click on the following link: 

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