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.
The Ontario government’s own 2020 report, “Protecting People and Property: Ontario’s Flooding Strategy,” which resulted from the 2019 flooding disaster, states very clearly that “Flood risk management is achieved through multiple provincial acts, regulations, policies and technical guides and a wide range of provincial programs and services. Successful implementation relies on partnerships between provincial ministries, municipalities, Indigenous communities, conservation authorities, stakeholder organizations and the federal government.” 1
Instead, this proposal seeks to do the very opposite. It proposes to exempt the CAs from their authority under ten crucial Acts and their associated regulations; it blocks the CA partnership with municipalities and stakeholders and takes the authority of CAs away from permitting so they cannot properly fulfill the recommendations of this report that was commissioned by the Ontario government only a few short years ago. Now, where is the wisdom in that?
The ORA offers strong support for polluters being held accountable; however, that isn’t what’s happening here. Rather than strengthening enforcement tools that hold polluters accountable, this government is systematically and persistently dismantling, weakening or bypassing all environmental policy and legislation that was designed to protect the environment and deter those industries, corporations or individuals who would pollute and/or destroy the environment.
These ERO postings consistently mislead the public, especially in the top several paragraphs and titles, which contain misleading introductions to the proposed policy the government is proposing. In fact, you can always count on these “modernization” policy changes to be a further attack on environmental policy and legislation. It is even more despicable that these attacks have largely been carried out during the government’s declared COVID Emergency, where no public consultation is required, and what consultation that does take place is meaningless when the main objective is to cut red tape and remove any roadblocks to development and pollution, in spite of the public’s strong recommendations to protect the environment.
The Coalition for the West Credit River is calling on Johnathan Wilkinson, (Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada) for a federal review of the Environmental Study Report (ESR) for the Erin Wastewater Treatment Plant (Erin WWTP), under the Impact Assessment Act.
The Erin Wastewater Treatment Plant (Erin WWTP) will discharge over 7 million litres of effluent daily, releasing a toxic plume of chloride, ammonia and decreased oxygen into the West Credit River, directly upstream of native Brook Trout spawning nursery and habitat, and endangered Redside Dace.
Please sign the Cut the Crap, Keep the Credit petition.
Overall, the material presented makes clear that the Fund mechanism will make it easier for habitat destruction to occur at the hands of industry and developers. Indeed, according to the proposal the main purpose of the Fund is to give operators a quicker and less cumbersome alternative to completing actions to provide an overall benefit for the species negatively impacted by their activities. The Fund is a part of a package of damaging amendments to the Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA), passed in June 2019 that, taken together, represent a gross weakening of the ability of the Act to fulfill its purpose to recover Ontario’s at-risk species. Our primary concerns with the Fund are outlined below.
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.
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.”
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.