Tag Archives: act

Ontario Rivers are Under Assault

Ontario Rivers Alliance (ORA) is a Not-for-Profit grassroots organization with a focus on healthy river ecosystems all across Ontario. ORA members represent numerous organizations such as the Vermilion River Stewardship, French River Delta Association, CPAWS-Ottawa Valley, Whitewater Ontario, Mississippi Riverwatchers, along with many other stewardships, associations, and private and First Nations citizens, who have come together to ensure the rash of waterpower proposals currently going through the approvals process are environmentally, economically and socially sustainable.

We all want Green Energy, but let’s ensure it is truly Green, and not the “Green-washed” version that is being proposed for many Ontario rivers.  Let’s ensure that efficiencies and upgrades are made to existing hydroelectric dams before new ones are built. Let’s ensure fish passage and fish friendly turbines are installed.

Climate change is upon us, and WATER is quickly becoming our gravest concern.  Let’s ensure river developments take into account the best advice of climate scientists, and are sustainable for many years to come.

So What’s the Dam Problem?

Ontario rivers are being placed at risk by a rash of over 45 hydroelectric proposals that have been awarded FIT Contracts, and are moving through the permitting and approvals process. The Green Energy Act with its accompanying FIT Program is the only thing that has made many of these rivers feasible for waterpower development. The proponent can’t be told to stand down, and gets paid a 50% bonus for whatever power they can generate – with a 50% bonus to produce power during peak demand. This encourages developers to maximize power at the expense of the environment and public health and safety.

Ontario Rivers are in trouble because our government has put the developer in charge of the Environmental Assessment process, instead of the MOE and MNR, and there is no possibility of a “no outcome” – effectively placing the FOX in charge of the chicken coop!

Hydroelectric is not “Green” when river flow is held back in head ponds – it is in fact “Dirty Energy”.

1.    Bad for the River Ecosystem:

Dams that hold water back in headponds result in:

  • Degraded water quality
  • Lower downstream water levels and flows
  • Lower oxygen levels
  • Increased mercury in fish tissue – studies show a 10 to 20 times increase
  • Increased nitrate and phosphorus levels
  • Warming of water – sound like a recipe for more algae?
2.   Bad for Fishermen & Snowmobilers:
  • Turbines chop up and kill Fish and Eels
  • Fish migration for spawning is blocked
  • Prime Spawning areas are destroyed
  • Entire species of fish are threatened
  • Rapid rise and fall of river water levels on daily basis makes ice unsafe for ice fishermen & snowmobilers
3.   Bad for Our Health & Safety:
  • Increased mercury in fish tissue resulting in fish consumption restrictions
  • Conditions created by dams & their headponds can result in increased incidences of toxic blue-green algae
  • Many people rely on river water for their drinking water and daily household needs
  • Dams can fail from extreme weather events and flooding
  • Rapidly changing water levels and flow velocity can put fishermen, swimmers and boaters at risk
4.   Bad for the Community & Local Economy:

Ontario Rivers offer  a thriving eco-tourism opportunity for small businesses:

  • Prime fishing and tourist viewing areas are destroyed
  • Decline in fish populations, especially cold-water species
  • Habitat destroyed
  • Pristine and unique features are replaced with a concrete dam, chain link fence and warning sirens
  • Rivers with cycling or peaking hydroelectric dams make boating, swimming, fishing, and ice recreation unsafe within zone of influence
  • Tourists will not travel hundreds of miles to see where rapids, waterfalls and fish used to be

We invite you to join us in our mission.

“Our future generations are depending on us.”


EBR 012-1120 Invasive Species Act – ORA Submission

Eurasian Milfoil

Excerpt:

ORA offers our support on the proposal to enact an Invasive Species Act (Bill 167), and to emphasize the importance of a proactive approach to minimize the possibility of intentional and unintentional introductions of alien and invasive species, and of mitigating the effects of species that have already been introduced.

For the Invasive Species Act to be effective, it is important that this legislation is accompanied by invasive species policies and implementation plans, along with collaboration between the Ontario government, ministries, agencies, municipalities and federal authorities, along with adequate funding, staff and required resources that are dedicated to the successful application of the policies and action plans. It is crucial that invasive species policy be incorporated into all decision-making processes throughout all pertinent government agencies in order to protect the economic, social and ecological integrity within all of Canada. Continue reading


Making Regulations under Subsection 36(5.2) of the Fisheries Act – ORA Submission

Lake Sturgeon

Excerpt:
“ORA respectfully offer our comments as prescribed in the Canada Gazette as listed above.

The proposed Regulations Establishing Conditions for Making Regulations under Subsection 36(5.2) of the Fisheries Act (Regulation) fundamentally alters the intent and enforceability of one of Canada’s most important federal laws. There has also been no meaningful, transparent and open process, or effort made to consult with the general public and stakeholders. As a result of the Government of Canada’s failure to consult with Canadians and those with expertise on this issue, both the Regulation and the supporting Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement are seriously flawed.

The sweeping changes to the Fisheries Act which were introduced in 2012 have weakened one of Canada’s most important and effective water and fisheries protection laws. This has provided opportunities for government to exempt industrial and resource development from federal rules.

The proposed Regulation lacks clarity and consistency, and amounts to an abdication of its federal responsibly for protecting fish, habitat and waterways in Canada. The contradictory regulatory scheme would make it impossible for any government regulator to fulfill the purpose of the Act, which is to “provide for the sustainability and ongoing productivity of commercial, recreational and Aboriginal fisheries”….. Continue reading


Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act – MNR Technical Bulletins – EBR 012-0562 – ORA Submission

Wabagishik Rapids, Vermilion River

Our intention in commenting on these bulletins is to help ensure that waterpower projects developed under the LRIA are not approved until the effects on the environment and aquatic ecosystems are fully identified, understood, and effectively mitigated.  It is also vital that the public has a mandated role and a voice in these processes.

It is also disturbing that the MNR is considering all responsibility for fish habitat and fish passage as out of scope, and is divesting its interests by way of these bulletins, with no clear MNR role mentioned, to the Department of Oceans and Fisheries (DFO).  This is at a time when the federal government has just announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the DFO and the National Energy Board (NEB) to relinquish much of its oversight of fish habitat along pipeline corridors.  This news was quietly released just before Christmas, and only highlights the need for the Ontario government to look after its own interests and not rely on federal protection for any of our crown resources.  Unfortunately many elements of these bulletins do the very opposite.  It is even more disturbing that this deferral was carried out despite the Fish Habitat Compliance and Referral Protocols for Ontario which was approved by government and identifies and enables roles for MNR in the matters of fish habitat and fish passage.

The exercise of reviewing these technical bulletins has been very disturbing to say the least.  It is as though the bulletins were written by the waterpower industry instead of MNR. This series of bulletins reflect an abdication of the MNRs responsibilities under the Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act (LRIA).

It is ORA’s view that this government must continue to play a strong role in ensuring effective mitigation of the impacts of development to meet their strategic directions for sustainable development; and certainly that will be what Ontario taxpayers expect.  It is vital that these bulletins reflect a commitment for inter-governmental cooperation, in a holistic and collaborative way, to ensure there are no gaps in fulfilling all responsibilities and commitments legislated under LRIA.

Continue reading



Proposed Great Lakes Protection Act – EBR Registry #011-6461 – ORA Submission

Excerpt:  “ORA supports the clarity in Ontario’s Great Lakes Strategy that the goal that appeared in draft form as “protecting water” has been refined to “protecting water for human and ecological health” (p.30).  Our concern is that the cumulative impact of various decisions that impact the waters in our rivers and streams (as evidenced by the example of Wabagishik Lake above) must be addressed urgently.  The focus on improving wetlands, beaches and coastal areas, without also ensuring the rivers and streams feeding these features are being protected and improved as well, will not enable the vision of the proposed Act to be realized.

ORA recommends that, should Bill 6 be enacted, the Province immediately place a moratorium on all hydroelectric approvals within the Basin, until such time as their well-documented and substantial impacts on the health of the Great Lakes can be effectively assessed and addressed.  The 40 year FIT contracts awarded to hydroelectric projects would ensure a long and lasting impact that could be very costly to stop or reverse once approved.” Continue reading



Ontario Resurrects Proposed Great Lakes Protection Act As Part Of Larger Great Lakes Strategy

On February 25, 2013, Ontario’s Minister of the Environment, Jim Bradley, re-introduced the Great Lakes Protection Act, the government’s first major step in implementing its Great Lakes Strategy released in December 2012. Given the central role that the Great Lakes play in the lives of the majority of Ontarians, it is expected that the Great Lakes Strategy and proposed Act will play a significant role in the province’s regulatory framework.

Background: Ontario’s Great Lakes Strategy (December 2012)

Amidst growing concerns about the effects of population growth, new chemicals of concern, invasive species, climate change, and other new challenges facing Ontario’s critically-important Great Lakes, the Government of Ontario began pursuing a “Great Lakes Strategy” in 2009 with the release of a discussion paper entitled “Healthy Lakes, Strong Ontario.” In June 2012, Ontario issued a draft version of the Great Lakes Strategy and engaged scientific experts and community stakeholders – including First Nations and Métis communities – in a series of public consultations. This process culminated in the Ontario Great Lakes Strategy report (GLS), released in December 2012.

To read the rest of this article, click here.


Endangered Species Act – Exemptions – Joint Letter to Premier Wynne

March 1, 2013

The Honourable Kathleen Wynne
Premier of Ontario
Legislative Building
Queens Park
Toronto, Ontario
M7A 1A1

Dear Premier Wynne,

We, the undersigned, are writing to express our deep concern about proposed exemptions to Ontario’s Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA) and to request that your government not proceed with these changes. The proposed exemptions would severely weaken the ESA’s current standard of protection and undermine the government’s ability to monitor and control activities that harm threatened and endangered species and their habitats.

The Liberal government passed the ESA in 2007 with overwhelming public support. Celebrated nationally and internationally by scientists and the environmental community as a gold standard in species at risk legislation, it greatly enhanced the government’s credibility as a green leader. The ESA is intended to facilitate species recovery through mandatory protection for threatened and endangered species and their habitats. At the same time, however, it provides flexibility for economic development by allowing for permits that authorize otherwise prohibited activities, contingent upon the achievement of an overall benefit for the species.

Download (PDF, 761KB)


EBR 011-7696 – Proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act – FRDA to MNR

FRENCH RIVER DELTA ASSOCIATION
857 Hartley Bay Road
RR 2 Site 10 Comp 4
Alban, Ontario P0M 1A0

January 18, 2013

Krista Adams
Senior Permits & Agreements Specialist
Ministry of Natural Resources, Policy Division
Species at Risk Branch
Permits and Agreements Section
300 Water Street, Floor 2
Peterborough, Ontario
K9J 8M5

Dear Ms. Adams:

Re: EBR Registry Number: 011-7696, Proposed approaches to the implementation of the Endangered Species Act which could include regulatory amendments to authorize activities to occur subject to conditions set out in regulation consistent with MNR’s Modernization of Approvals

The proposed regulatory changes contained in EBR 011-7696 are vague and will not meet MNR’s responsibility to endangered species and their habitat maintenance and protection.
While the ambiguity of this MNR and provincial cabinet’s proposal will serve MNR’s and cabinet’s partners in the mining, energy, forestry, and aggregate industries, it will not meet the primary purpose of the Endangered Species Act which is to protect endangered and threatened species and their habitats required for survival.

It is intriguing to note that the spring 2012 budget proposed amendments to the Endangered Species Act. These proposed exemptions – circumvention of permitting requirements, and removal of deadlines for recovery planning – faced serious public opposition and the budget amendments to the ESA were dropped. To now reposition the budget amendments as regulatory changes, which require only cabinet approval, is irresponsible, misleading and shows the continuing disrespect that cabinet and the MNR have towards the public, and as importantly, endangered species and their habitats. Continue reading