Mayor Tory says he will use a three-day trip to Chicago to tout the benefits of the trade relationship between Toronto and the Windy City and discuss how the two municipalities may be able to work together to fight proposed cuts to Great Lakes funding.

Tory will leave for Chicago later this afternoon, marking his first official trip to Toronto’s sister city as mayor.

On Wednesday, Tory will meet with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to discuss what to do about the Trump administration’s plan to slash all federal funds for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Emanuel will also lead Tory on a tour of Chicago’s Millennium Park, which was built in an area previously occupied by the Illinois Central rail yards and has been put forward as a model for Tory’s proposed Rail Deck Park.

During the trip, Tory will also participate in a panel discussion entitled ‘Open Cities, Closed Borders: A Response to Globalization’ and participate in a roundtable of mayors on how to finance a global city.

Speaking with CP24 on Tuesday morning, Tory said he is particularly eager to figure out how Toronto and Chicago can work together to fight the proposed gutting of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which previously provided funding for cleaning up pollution hot spots and combating invasive species. .

“Number one on the list is drinking water. We have seen great changes for the better with respect to the quality of water that we drink and the Trump administration has indicated that they are going to cut huge amounts of funding that have been there year after year to help clean up the toxic hot spots, address the invasive species in the lake and so on,” he said. “ I am going down to meet with Mayor Emanuel and talk about how we can work together as the two biggest cities living on the Great Lakes to protect that water and make sure that money is still there.”

A total of four other people will join Tory for the trade mission, including Toronto Region Board of Trade President and CEO Jan De Silva and Toronto Global Chair Mark Cohon. The latter agency was recently formed with $19.5-million in government funding and is aimed at enticing foreign invest to the Toronto region.

Discussing the trade relationship between Canada and the U.S. with CP24, Tory said it is more important than ever to promote it and remind leaders of its importance.

“We rely on each other to a huge extent for a lot of trade back and forth and when we see NAFTA under attack I think we need to go down and remind our friends in the United States how reliant we have become on each other in a very positive way,” he said. “It is a good partnership, it is creating a lot of jobs and it is working well. Let’s not mess with it.”

A total of 15 other mayors are attending the round-table in Chicago including the leaders of Dublin, Cape Town, Bangkok, Prague and Melbourne.