Municipalities and other stakeholders must have a say in where and how pits are developed in their communities.
What is needed in these circumstances are commitments to sustainable planning, complete communities, and sustainable building practices to protect Ontario’s triple bottom line of our ecological, economic, and social wellbeing, not a slash and burn approach for short-term gain.
The ORA is opposed to this proposal that would gut the Environmental Assessment Act (EAA) and the Environmental Assessment (EA) program. Since the EAA was amended in 1996 there have been many official calls for an improved EAA and EA program, amongst those calls were the Environmental Commissioner for Ontario and the Auditor General of Ontario. Over this time, the EA program and EAA have become more and more streamlined, and this has led to increasing uncertainty for stakeholders and proponents.
We, the undersigned organizations, strongly oppose proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA) put forward in Schedule 5 of Bill 108. The changes contained in Schedule 5 will strip Ontario’s most vulnerable plants and animals of crucial legal protection.
If enacted, the proposed changes will effectively gut the Act, result in the loss of biodiversity in the Province, eliminate most of the current protections for species at risk, and reduce the likelihood of their recovery. These draconian changes are clearly designed to restrict the number of species that are listed as at risk, to permit large-scale developers to harm species at risk and destroy their habitat, and to delay the implementation of any protection measures that remain under the Act.
The government’s claim that the proposed changes will improve outcomes for species at risk is grossly misleading.
We, the undersigned, are reaching out to all MPPs to urge you to uphold the spirit and intent of the ESA as well as its focus on demonstrable benefit to species, and to ensure that it is not weakened during the ongoing review.
We note, with deep concern, that environmental deregulation – making it easier for industry and development proponents to proceed with activities that harm species at risk and their habitats – appears to be the overall focus and intent of the options put forward for consideration. Reassuring statements that the review is intended to “improve protections,” “improve effectiveness” and provide “stringent protections” (p. 2) are misleading, in light of the actual proposed changes that MECP is inviting the public to consider. These include options that would undermine the very cornerstones of the law: science-based listing (including Indigenous Traditional Knowledge), mandatory habitat protection, and legislated timelines for planning and reporting.
It is difficult to place any trust in the promises of this Plan when this government’s recent actions are reflecting something very different. Key policy and legislation were recently proposed in Bills 57 and 66 that would remove the position of the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, bypass the Clean Water Actand several other important Acts, repeal the Toxic Reduction Act,and streamline the Endangered Species Act to support its “Open for Business” mandate. How is the government doing its part to “help our urban and rural communities and landscapes become more sustainable and resilient” when at the same time key legislation is being repealed, streamlined or bypassed?
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.
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