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Category Archives: Species at Risk

Hydroelectric and its “Pathway to Decarbonization”

Abitibi River – Twin Falls GS

Please sign and share our Petition:  Hydroelectric is NOT a Pathway to Decarbonization.

The increasing role of hydroelectric reservoirs as GHG emitters and negative environmental effects has resulted in thousands of independent peer-reviewed studies laying out the facts. However, the hydropower industry and governments have done a thorough job of promoting waterpower through a powerful disinformation campaign to mislead the world into believing it is clean and non-emitting while turning a blind eye to the growing body of evidence to the contrary.

ORA strongly recommends that OPG begin the use of drone technology to detect, map and measure GHG emissions within the entire zone of influence of its hydroelectric facilities – in the upstream reservoir, turbine intake, spillway and downstream of the dam. This will ensure that those who have purchased clean energy credits from OPG are getting what is claimed – a clean and non-emitting source of electricity. All data should be placed in real-time on the OPG website and made available to researchers and the public.

In closing, the ORA requests that the Minister finally remove the label of clean and non-emitting from hydroelectric generation. Certification will mean nothing if there is no authentic and verifiable science-based method of reducing Ontario’s GHG emissions. Furthermore, it would be unethical and fraudulent to mislead the public and corporations into believing they are paying for clean and non-emitting electricity when they are actually paying to fuel climate change.

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Hydropower is destroying our rivers, biodiversity and fueling Climate Change

Dams and hydropower facilities harm the environment and, when headponds or reservoirs are flooded, can produce carbon dioxide and methane for the life of the dam. Ontario is about to embark on a whole new era of dam building. Ontario has 224 operating hydropower plants and only 3 with fish passage.
By the way, Ontario Power Generation has been selling Clean Energy Credits for hydroelectric since 2013.   
NO MORE NEW HYDROELECTRIC DAMS IN ONTARIO!! 


ERO-019-6177 – Review of A Place to Grow and Provincial Policy Statement

Photo by Al Oman

The province claims that “Ontario needs more housing, and we need it now. That’s why the Ontario government is taking bold and transformative action to get 1.5 million homes built over the next 10 years.”  This Environmental Registry of Ontario (ERO) posting is only one component of a large series of other interconnected ERO postings relating to Bill 23. Due to the short comment period at this busiest time of year for such a complex, vague, poorly considered, and destructive policy and legislative “streamlining”, it is impossible to fully understand the full scope or depth of resulting effects to provide any kind of meaningful input. It is crucial that all ERO postings are well planned, concisely written and defined in clear policy language so the public fully understands what is being proposed and its potential positive and negative effects.

The Ontario government, through Bill 23 and its multitude of complex and interconnected legislation and policy amendments, has:

  • Removed municipal jurisdiction from upper-tier municipalities to make policy decisions on land use planning matters that are based on local community interests.
  • Removed a significant financial source (permits/building fees) in which to help pay for water and wastewater services, sewers, transportation infrastructure, and community parks needed to service 1.5 million additional homes.
  • Prohibited Conservation Authorities all across Ontario from providing practical advice to municipalities, their ability to issue permits, or provide input into environmental concerns.
  • Failed to provide adequate public and Indigenous consultation relating to Bill 23 matters.
  • Is proposing to streamline the qualifications program for Building Practitioners (ERO-019-6433).

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ERO-019-6161 – Conserving Ontario’s Natural Heritage

One prime example of ecosystem services is our fisheries which depend on strong and healthy ecosystems. In 2015 the Ontario Government launched a Provincial Fish Strategy – Fish for the Future, which indicated that Ontario’s recreational fisheries support robust sport fishing and tourism, which are a mainstay for many of the northern communities. It also reported that 1.5 million anglers spend $1.75 billion dollars in the province each year, supporting approximately 1,600 resource-based tourism businesses each and every year.[i]  These are just a fraction of the ecosystem services that must be weighed against the full life cycle costs and benefits derived from any project that will impact our wetlands, wildlife, air, land or water.

[i] Fisheries in Ontario – Information about recreational and commercial fisheries in Ontario. Online: https://www.ontario.ca/page/fisheries-ontario

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Delayed Decision to List American Eel Under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) – Joint

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 We are a coalition of Indigenous Peoples and conservation and environmental non-governmental organizations concerned with the conservation of American Eel and write to ask that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans take all necessary steps to immediately list this important species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA). 

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Environmental Accountability in Ontario – Consultation Paper

Big Falls – Victory – stopped a proposed hydroelectric project on a sacred site!

The current government has gutted multiple key pieces of environmental legislation and policy that have taken decades to assemble. We are in a perilous state now where the requirement to consult with the public and Indigenous communities has been minimized, and the red tape cutting has gone to such extremes that public health and safety and the natural environment will be at increased risk as the climate continues to warm. 

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ERO-019-6160 – Proposed Updates to the Ontario Wetland Evaluation System – Joint

“Blandings Turtle” by tcmurray74 is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

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. 

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ERO-019-6141 – Legislative & Regulatory proposals affecting Conservation Authorities

“Consider This” by Storm Crypt is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

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?

[1] Protecting People and Property: Ontario’s Flooding Strategy, 10 March 2020. P-7/42

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Bill 23 – ORA Comments to the Standing Committee on Heritage Infrastructure and Cultural Policy

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.

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Hydroelectric Program Development and Assessment – IESO Small Hydro Program

First, it was enlightening to be provided with a clear definition of small and large hydro facilities in the Hydroelectric Program Development and Assessment webinar, as well as a total amount of power generated by these categories. You informed that the definition of small hydro would have a scope of installed capacity of 10 MW and under, with 30 companies representing 50 facilities generating a total of 120 to 150 MW, and large hydro having a scope of installed capacity of over 10 MW, with 3 companies representing 22 facilities producing a total of 1,000 MW. 

The increased number of small hydro facilities making such a small contribution to our electricity grid impacts on multiple Ontario riverine ecosystems, whereas the 22 facilities producing 1,000 MW of power on presumably fewer rivers has a much lower trade-off value. Additionally, larger rivers have a greater capacity to buffer some of the worse effects of hydroelectric. 

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