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.
The ORA strongly objects to any approach that eliminates the opportunity for public and Indigenous consultation and input regarding any sewage and stormwater infrastructure projects, especially any expansions or upgrades when they could have a negative environmental impact on the riverine environment and communities.
We, the 85 undersigned organizations, are writing to express our strong opposition to the proposed amendment to the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) which would end the prohibition on aggregate extraction within the habitat of threatened and endangered species throughout the region’s Natural Heritage System.
As we all work to emerge from this unprecedented disruption, our 235 organizations and millions of supporters want to emphasize that investments in nature and biodiversity on our lands and in our ocean can create jobs and be an essential part of an economic recovery and a sustainable future. Canada is in a particularly strong position to lead global efforts in this regard. We support your commitments to increase protection of lands, freshwater, and ocean, embrace nature-based climate solutions, and urge you to invest in achieving these outcomes.
The motion, presented on Monday night, suggested by the committee calls for North Huron Council to approve an engineering study to determine the future of the dam and set out a schedule for fundraising for the rehabilitation of the structure. If that schedule cannot be met, however, the recommendation calls for the removal of the structure.
Howson Dam spillway to be tested, 23 Nov 2020
North Huron Council approves engineering study on Howson Dam, 9 July 2020
‘It’s going to be black or white’: North Huron council approves funding Howson Dam committee to speak to engineers, experts, 9 July 2020
Ontario has hundreds, if not thousands of dams that are unsafe and no longer serving any useful purpose. These dams are blocking fish passage, degrading water quality, fragmenting habitat, threatening species at risk and sensitive cold water species. ORA is working to take them out. Check out this excellent overview of the problems with hydropower:
The Gorrie Dam failed as the result of an extreme rain and flood event in June of 2017. The dam had failed before, so the ORA advocated for its decommissioning, rather than its repair.
Part of the earthen berm to the south of the dam failed in June 2017. In June 2019, after reviewing a study of alternatives for the dam, the Conservation Authority membership decided to begin the process of decommissioning the structure which is located at Gorrie Conservation Area.
It is crucial that we take action on infrastructure that would put citizens at risk, degrade water quality, threaten our fisheries, or that jeopardize the ecosystem services that healthy rivers provide.
The Maitland Conservation Authority has decided to decommission the dam and will move ahead with decommissioning in 2021.
Maitland Conservation Moves Ahead With Next Steps at Gorrie Conservation Area, 6 July 2020, by Maitland CA
This ERO proposal describes the GRSs as providing “stringent protections for species at risk and their habitats under the Endangered Species Act”, but how stringent are these protections when the legislation can be so easily set aside? This means that protection and recovery under the ESA is uncertain for all species at risk.
Finally, the West Credit River is a headwaters tributary of the Credit River and is considered the crown jewel of coldwater brook trout fisheries in Ontario. This fishery significantly adds to the economic and social fabric of the province, with Ontario fisheries contributing a total of approximately $2.5 billion annually to the provincial economy. MNRF’s own documents predict that climate change will reduce the number of watersheds in Ontario with brook trout by 50% by 2050.
The wording in this Environmental Registry posting is very misleading when it claims that “Ontario is committed to providing strong protections for species at risk and improving outcomes by modernizing and improving the effectiveness of the Endangered Species Act, as committed to in our Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan”. This proposal is not improving the effectiveness of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), it is even doubtful it will increase the profits of private corporations. It will however be to the detriment of species at risk.
Please note that the Ontario government decision is to continue with the forestry industry exemption of the Endangered Species Act when logging in Crown forests: “A decision for this proposal has been published as a Bulletin under ERO 019-1995 on June 29, 2020.”
“Ontario has extended the temporary approach for forest operations conducted in Crown forests under the Endangered Species Act for an additional year. This will help avoid additional regulatory burden and economic strain on the forestry sector while a long-term approach is being considered.”