Instead of exemptions or a more streamlined Class EAW, the OWA should be proposing amendments to provide for a much more rigorous and accountable process that ensures fish friendly turbines, effective and safe fish passage, a more rigorous cumulative effects assessment, and a more comprehensive and meaningful consultation process. We should be making our rivers more resilient in the face of climate change – not exempting waterpower projects from the Class EAW. Instead, the OWA and the Ontario government are placing our environment and communities at risk.
ORA is very concerned about the extreme deregulation that occurred with the recent waterpower exemption to the Permit to Take Water, and in this new Mercury Regulation where new and significantly redeveloped electricity producing dams have not been addressed. These important legislative requirements were designed to ensure hydroelectric facilities are held accountable for environmental and socio-economic impacts and risks to communities and riverine ecosystems.
The effects of dams and hydroelectric facilities on fish populations and fisheries have been well documented over the past century and include the loss or serious decline of many iconic fish species, which are resources of importance to Ontario’s economy, biodiversity, and natural and cultural heritage.
Since 1963 the Little Long Generating Complex on the Lower Mattagami River in Northern Ontario has been the source of an environmental crisis of immeasurable proportions. Thousands of Lake Sturgeon have been entrained through spillway gates and left stranded waiting to be captured and relocated back to their adopted man-made habitat, leaving waters not fit for survival. Adam Creek Spillway is well known province-wide as a thorn in hydro electric energy and should not be defined or qualified as GREEN energy.
ORA also objects to Ontario ratepayers and/or taxpayers having to subsidize electricity pricing and capital expenditures for industry and private corporations. This Strategy focuses only on the economic benefits of doubling the harvest, without looking at the trade-offs or balancing that with equal measures to maintain a healthy environment. This is the only way to maintain the claim of sustainable forest management in Ontario.
With the warming temperatures and extreme rain and drought events that climate change is predicted to bring with increasing frequency and intensity as time passes, decision makers and legislators bear a responsibility to strengthen freshwater protection and resiliency – not weaken it. If this proposal moves forward it will be a precipitous turning point for our future with freshwater in Ontario and beyond.
You will find ORA’s submissions regarding Bill 132 here.
Check out ORA’s speech to the Standing Committee on General Government: Continue reading
With climate change impacts bearing down on us, decision makers have a responsibility to ensure the resiliency of our freshwater resources. If this proposal moves forward it will be a precipitous turning point for our future with freshwater in Ontario and beyond.
Since this project was first proposed, a large percentage of the community of Bala Falls have been opposed to it. Citizens have lobbied, marched, picketed, petitioned and railed against this abomination being built in the heart of their town. Immediately downstream of the dam is a favourite public swimming and picnic area that draws local residents and tourists from far and wide. This project will pose a public safety risk; however, there is no Public Safety Plan – it wasn’t included in the initial Environmental Report, nor was it adequately addressed. It was unacceptable in 2012, and it’s still unacceptable – it should never have been approved in the first place.
The Government of Ontario is proposing Bill 66, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2018. It is unacceptable that key environmental protection and legislation that protects the public is under attack.
Schedule 5 of Bill 66 would repeal the Toxics Reduction Act and two regulations. The purpose of the TRA is to prevent pollution and protect human health and the environment by reducing the use and creation of toxic substances and informing Ontarians about toxic substances.
Schedule 10 of this Bill would enable municipalities to simply pass an “open-for-business planning by-law” under the Planning Act, to exempt local development from the application of key components of several important provincial laws, plans and policies, including the:
• Clean Water Act, 2006, Section 39
• Great Lakes Protection Act, 2015, Section 20
• Greenbelt Act, 2005, Section 7
• Lake Simcoe Protection Act, 2008, Section 6, and
• Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act, 2003, Section 7
Since the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was signed more than two decades ago, our awareness of climate change has dramatically changed and our window of time for addressing it has shortened. NAFTA and other agreements that are part of the global trade regime have been used to undermine critical actions needed to respond to the climate crisis that help rebuild local economies, regulate corporations and stop damaging extractive projects.
We need a fundamental shift in how we approach trade – one that puts the needs of people and the planet first.