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.
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 Coalition for the West Credit River (Coalition) remains very concerned with the potential environmental impact of the Erin Water Resource Recovery Facility (WRRF) and, in particular, the temperature of its treated effluent harming the sensitive coldwater Brook Trout habitat of the West Credit River.
As your Ministry is aware, the approved sewage treatment plant proposes to discharge large flows of sewage effluent into the relatively small flow of the West Credit River. The lack of significant dilution will greatly magnify the thermal impact of warm effluent on this coldwater stream.
First, the Coalition for the West Credit River (Coalition) would like to express our deepest appreciation that you and your staff worked with our Technical Team over the last several months to incorporate some of our recommendations into the Environmental Compliance Approval (ECA). However, we are concerned that our key recommendations for improvements to the draft ECA, received by you on 2 May, were not reflected in the ECA approved on 3 May 2022.
The Coalition is very appreciative of your strong support in recommending to the Honourable David Piccini, Minister of Environment, Conservation Parks (MECP) and Mayor Allan Alls, Town of Erin, that our draft Monitoring and Adaptive Management Plan be integrated into the Environmental Compliance Approval (ECA). As you are likely aware, the ECA for the Erin Water Resource Recovery Facility was approved on 3 May 2022 by Aziz Ahmed, P.Eng., MECP Manager of Municipal Water & Wastewater Permissions, appointed for the purposes of Part II.1 of the Environmental Protection Act.
The ORA is in full agreement that Low Impact Development (LID) must be a priority in development planning guidance for stormwater management practices and should include innovative green infrastructure such as rain harvesting, rain gardens, green roofs, urban trees and forests, permeable surfaces, ditches, swales, stormwater catchments, and must emphasize the protection of wetlands.
The undersigned organizations and experts support the following Submission to the Ministers of Environment and Climate Change and Health on Bill C-28, An Act to Amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, etc. submitted by the Canadian Environmental Law Association in February 2022. This submission is relevant for Bill S-5 (An Act to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, to make related amendments to the Food and Drugs Act and to repeal the Perfluorooctane Sulfonate Virtual Elimination Act) released on February 9, 2022.
When people refer to hydroelectric as clean, it’s usually in the context of GHG emissions; however, governments and utilities often use the term categorically and without caveat or qualification. Using the word “clean” in this context is misleading. Just because hydroelectric facilities are not spewing out smoke does not mean they are clean or renewable. In fact, waterpower has resulted in significant and ongoing impacts on water quality, water quantity, ecological processes, fish and wildlife populations and habitat, and to aboriginal communities. Hydroelectric also makes a significant daily contribution to the earth’s accumulation of greenhouse gases (GHG) in our atmosphere.
The province should not be streamlining reporting requirements. Wastewater and stormwater management are vitally important to the health and resilience of our freshwater resources and to the people of Ontario. There are numerous complex and site specific considerations for each and every outfall of sewage effluent that is unique to the area and the water body. We cannot continue to release partially treated or untreated sewage into our lakes and rivers. We must stop thinking about how we can make it easier and start thinking about how we can make wastewater treatment more efficient and effective so we can build resilience into our lakes and rivers to help prepare for a warming climate.
The ORA is very supportive of policy and legislation that provides an ecosystem approach for planning at a watershed and subwatershed scale. It is essential that we ensure a healthy environment, with clean and abundant freshwater resources, that helps to provide resilience to the extremes of climate change. We are appreciative of the information webinar on the Subwatershed Planning Guide, and the 45-day comment period.
Overall, we are generally supportive of the draft guidelines as they seem broad ranging and comprehensive. We are especially pleased to see the partnership approach with Indigenous peoples included in the Guide and agree that this approach will lead to a much more comprehensive subwatershed plan.