Friday, January 25, 2013

Nature Canada Has Submitted Comments on the Proposed Exemptions for Industry to Ontario's Endangered Species Act. Have You?

If you haven’t submitted your comments yet opposing the alarming list of recommendations recently released by the Ontario Government which will exempt industrial activities from key sections of the province’s Endangered Species Act, today is your last day (see Nature Canada’s earlier post blog discussing this issue here).

This is a segment of what Nature Canada had to say:

Dear Ms. Adams,

The proposed regulatory amendments discussed in EBR 011-7696 are a source of great concern to Nature Canada. It is clear that these amendments will authorize potentially harmful activities to occur beyond the control and knowledge of the Ministry of Natural Resources’ (MNR) officials, even when impacting Ontario’s most sensitive species and habitats.  We feel this proposal is in direct opposition to the purpose of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which is to “protect species that are at risk and their habitats, and to promote the recovery of species that are at risk”.

These exemptions will apply to newly listed species at risk, species at risk newly discovered at a site, or any newly protected habitat. How is this proposal aligned with a precautionary approach to species at risk protection and recovery? And will this proposal not undermine years of investment by the Ontario government to protect and recover its listed species and their habitats?

Species that are newly listed may be experiencing a rapid decline and may be threatened by the very actions that will be exempt through this proposal. New species are continually being assessed and added to the list of Endangered Species, and species already listed are monitored which on occasion results in a modification of their designation. To ignore all future alterations to a list of species whose real world populations are constantly changing is unreasonable.

Many of the conditions attached to the proposed exemptions note that registration of an undertaking with MNR may not be mandatory in all cases. We fear the emphasis of this proposal on individuals or business to voluntarily follow rules and established regulations will make it extremely difficult if not impossible to regulate and enforce conformity of the conditions mentioned in this proposal. Through these exemptions the Ministry’s ability to uphold the law and to track and address impacts will be completely undermined. Registration with MNR and permit approval for potentially harmful developments must not be optional. The issuance of permits is critical for MNR to effectively monitor and control the impacts of development and related activities within Ontario, and to enforce compliance with rules and regulations.
Permits are able to deal with specific issues as they arise and should continue to be used, not replaced with exemptions for industry. We recommend that instead of removing the permit process in the name of streamlining the process and increasing administrative efficiencies, MNR place the financial burden of permit acquisition and research on the shoulders of those who will benefit from them as an alternative funding method (i.e., a “polluter pays” approach). This action will help to relieve MNR’s financial burden while still allowing for strong implementation of the Act and greater investment in recovery activities.

Thank you again for the opportunity to comment on this regulatory amendment proposal notice concerning the ESA. We trust that our concerns and recommendations will be taken into consideration. Please do not hesitate to contact us should you have any questions regarding this correspondence.


Ian Davidson
Executive Director
Nature Canada

Read the full comments submitted by Nature Canada here

You can read about the “Regulation Proposal Notice” and submit your own comments  to the Ministry of Natural Resources. The comment period is open until January 25, 2013. Make sure to reference EBR Registry number 011-7696 for your entry to be considered.