As you know, the OWES is a science-based ranking system that provides a standardized approach to determining the relative value of wetlands. OWES assessments are necessary to designate Provincially Significant Wetlands (PSWs). This designation in turn results in a high level of protection under provincial law and policy such as the Provincial Policy Statement (sections 2.1.4, 2.1.5 and 2.1.8). Yet the complete overhaul of the OWES, as proposed, will ensure that very few wetlands would be deemed provincially significant in the future and that many if not most existing PSWs could lose that designation. As a result, very few of Ontario’s wetlands would benefit in the future from the protection that PSW designation currently provides. We urge you not to proceed with the proposed changes to the OWES, for the reasons outlined below.
The ORA is concerned that Bill 23 will have far-reaching negative effects on the environment and communities. This major streamlining of development is irresponsible and a recipe for disaster. Bill 23 works against sustainability and the watershed approach at a time when Government decision-making should be focused on protecting the environment and building climate resilience into Ontario’s communities and infrastructure.
The undersigned organizations and experts support the following Submission to the Ministers of Environment and Climate Change and Health on Bill C-28, An Act to Amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, etc. submitted by the Canadian Environmental Law Association in February 2022. This submission is relevant for Bill S-5 (An Act to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, to make related amendments to the Food and Drugs Act and to repeal the Perfluorooctane Sulfonate Virtual Elimination Act) released on February 9, 2022.
We, the 120 undersigned organizations, strongly oppose Schedule 3 of Bill 257, Supporting Broadband and Infrastructure Expansion Act, 2021, which proposes to amend the Planning Act so that both existing and future Minister’s Zoning Orders (MZOs) would no longer have to be consistent with the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS). We request that you remove this schedule from Bill 257.
The PPS sets the policy foundation for comprehensive, integrated, long-term land use planning in Ontario. It “provides for appropriate development while protecting resources of provincial interest, public health and safety, and the quality of the natural and built environment” (PPS Preamble). Regularly revised and updated though extensive public consultations with experts, stakeholders and Indigenous rights-holders, the PPS is meant to provide balanced, relevant and widely supported policy direction on planning matters. The Planning Act requirement (section 3) that all decisions affecting planning matters “shall be consistent with” the PPS ensures certainty, fairness, consistency and substantive merit in planning decisions across the province. A development that can only be authorized by exempting it from the PPS is a development that ought not to be authorized at all.
Bill 229 is just the most recent in a long list of omnibus bills containing devastating amendments, exemptions and streamlining of key environmental policy and legislation designed to protect our environment and communities and provide the public and stakeholders with meaningful input. These government actions have created a deep erosion of public trust and confidence. It is unacceptable that it would mislead its citizens and bypass the norms by taking advantage of a world-wide health emergency to aggressively push their destructive agenda through.
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.
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
We all had a HUGE VICTORY yesterday!! “Thank you” for taking part in ORA’s campaign to Speak Out Against Schedule 10 of Bill 66. The Ontario government reported that they will be removing Schedule 10 from Bill 66. A BIG THANKS to you and many other people, organizations and municipalities that rallied together to speak out against this regressive Bill.Continue reading
In closing, risky development decisions made in one or more jurisdictions could have significant negative cumulative impacts on our air, land and/or water, as well as the Great Lakes and many other highly valued ecosystems. Being “Open-for-Business” is a good thing, unless it is at the expense of public health and safety or the environment. Do we really want to risk another Walkerton or Grassy Narrows disaster? That is precisely what the province is fostering with Bill 66.