ORA strongly supports the following:
- The new section to the Act, 14.1, to restore the Greenbelt Plan to the 15 areas of land that were removed or redesignated in 2022, while maintaining the 2022 lands that were added.
- The re-enactment and enhancement of section 2 of the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act, 2001, to repeal the authority of the Lieutenant Governor in Council to add/remove lands from the Greenbelt.
- Lastly, ORA supports the new section of the Act, 26, to restore the designation of land that was redesignated in 2022.
On behalf of the 42 undersigned organizations, we are writing to express our strong opposition to the proposed conditional exemption for the endangered Black Ash, under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA). The proposed minimizes protections for the Black Ash at every turn and reveals a disturbing lack of intent on the part of the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP to prioritize the survival and recovery of the species.
Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) has prepared the following analysis and recommendations in response to the four above-noted Environmental Registry of Ontario (ERO) notices, which propose dramatic changes to Ontario’s permit-by-rule framework. The undersigned environmental, conservation, and civil society organizations have endorsed CELA’s submission. Collectively, it is strongly recommended that the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks not move ahead with the four proposals…
We are willing to meet and discuss CELA’s submission at your convenience.
In response to the proposal to return lands to the Greenbelt, the ORA offers our strong support for all lands that were removed from the Greenbelt on 14 December 2022 being immediately returned to the Greenbelt, as per the proposed Amendments to the Greenbelt Plan and the Greenbelt Area Boundary Regulation O.Reg 59/05.
ORA also recommends that all lands this government added to the Greenbelt land to compensate for the December 2022 removal of Greenbelt lands remain within the Greenbelt under the protection of the Greenbelt Act, 2005, and Greenbelt Plan.
Once the land is returned to the Greenbelt, it must remain designated as Greenbelt with all the relevant land use restrictions, and any future removal must be made extremely onerous through protective amendments to the appropriate legislation.
Actually, this government does not deserve the trust of its constituents because it has eroded all of our environmental protections and public engagement and consultation in related policy and legislation over the last 5 years. Therefore, when it claims that “the intention is not to fundamentally change the underlying rules but rather to clarify their source and application”, it is unbelievable – no longer credible – trust has been lost. Especially since this proposal and the entire Build More Mines Act, 2023 was a total gutting of the Mining Act.
While streamlining mining legislation and policies can bring about certain benefits such as increased efficiency and reduced bureaucracy if done correctly; excessive streamlining without adequate safeguards can impact the environment, communities and even the long-term sustainability of the mining industry. It will also lead to environmental degradation, community displacement and conflicts, social and economic imbalances, and undermine public trust with the lack of transparency and accountability.
To avoid these negative consequences, it is essential to strike a balance between streamlining mining regulations for efficiency and ensuring that there are robust environmental, social and legal safeguards in place. Proper consultation with local communities, adherence to international best practices and strict enforcement of responsible mining standards are crucial for achieving sustainable and responsible mining practices. This is not the case with any of these amendments.
Consequently, ORA rejects this proposal to streamline the Regulation.
This government has been systematically removing public consultation opportunities for projects and issues of strong public interest, which goes against the spirit and intent of section 35 of the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR).
Provincial parks and conservation areas must not be exempt from the Environmental Assessment Act as there will be no legal requirement to consider:
- Potential environmental effects;
- Mitigation measures;
- Alternative ways of carrying out the undertaking, and
- Alternatives to the undertaking.
There is also no decision-making mechanism which considers the environmental advantages/disadvantages of the undertaking.
The State of the PFAS report and the Risk Management Scope document were released for public comments during a time when Bill S-5 (Strengthening Environmental Protection for a Healthier Canada Act) received Royal Assent on June 13, 2023. The updated CEPA includes substantial changes to the listing of toxic substances under Schedule 1 of CEPA. The findings of the State of PFAS concluding PFAS as a class meet more than one criterion under section 64 are expected to be relevant due to the changes in CEPA. A listing of PFAS as a class under CEPA should be made in Part 1 of Schedule 1 of CEPA. Based on the body of evidence collected in the State of the PFAS report demonstrating the ecological toxicity and associated impacts of PFAS as a class to health, it is critical that PFAS as a class be given the full scope of regulatory measures, particularly with a focus on prohibition, that is permitted under CEPA.
The ORA will never be in favour of streamlining the regulatory, approvals and permitting processes as they were put in place to protect our natural environment and communities, and have already been significantly undermined.
Instead, we need strong and rigorous environmental assessment and robust public, Indigenous and stakeholder consultation if we are to build climate resilience into our air, land and freshwater resources.
I will briefly address my rationale and the dangers of streamlining the regulatory regime of hydroelectric facilities in particular, as it is commonly claimed by governments and industry to be ‘clean’, ‘green’ and ‘non-emitting. However, this is misleading the public at a pivotal time when we should be following the science.
For the reasons set out below, CELA and other aligned organizations and First Nations conclude that the various environmental assessment (EA) proposals set out in these Registry notices are highly problematic, unsupported by persuasive evidence, and contrary to the public interest purpose of the Environmental Assessment Act (EAA), namely the betterment of Ontarians by providing for the protection, conservation, and wise management of the environment.
Accordingly, we collectively recommend that these current proposals should be withdrawn and re-considered by the Ontario government.
Re: Bill 71
ERO-019-6715 – Proposed Building More Mines Act, 2023
ERO-019-6749 – Consequential administrative amendments under the Mining Act
ERO-019-6750 – Proposed regulatory amendments to closure plan and rehabilitation
A very disturbing reality has been revealed, that this government is clearly moving away from evidence-based decision-making that is grounded in science and, instead, is moving fully into a total lack of regard for environmental and stakeholder protections, and Indigenous treaty rights. This government is going too far in its efforts to cut red tape and deregulate environmental protections in Ontario.