by Jane – SOCM
Save the whales! Save the pandas! Save the polar bears!
Every day one hears or reads about another species of wildlife, or plant life, that is in danger of facing extinction.
There is even a list called The Red List – a compilation of a frightening number of species of flora and fauna in danger of vanishing from the face of the earth. http://www.iucnredlist.org/
One would expect that, in the face of widespread media coverage of ‘global warming’ and ‘climate change’, all levels of government would work towards better environmental stewardship and protection.
Species at Risk in Ontario
In Canada, more than 500 wild animal and plant species are considered “at risk” according to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Species in Canada (COSEWIC).
Nearly 40 percent of these species are found in Ontario. Some urban and rural activities, including expanding residential development, pose significant threats to Ontario’s wildlife. Natural habitats that are under the most intense pressure are forests, grasslands, wetlands, and the Great Lakes and their watersheds.
The Carolinian eco-zone in south-western Ontario is perhaps the most wildlife-rich area in the country; yet, it is also home to about one-third of the nation’s Species at Risk.
Currently there are 585 Species at Risk in Canada according to COSEWIC. Ontario is home to 203 of these species, the highest percentage of Species at Risk among the regions. Ontario is followed closely by British Columbia and the Yukon Territory.
Ontario’s ‘Species at Risk’ break down as follows:
50 Special Concern
(Source: May 2009 Database of wildlife species assessed by COSEWIC)
They need habitat to live
Ontario has the most concentrated human population in Canada. In southern Ontario, where most of the people live, there is significant pressure on natural habitats. In some areas, this pressure has displaced many wild plants and animals.
Like people, wildlife are subject to a variety of threats throughout their life cycle. Today, most stressors for wildlife are directly related to human activities – in urban, suburban and rural areas. The most serious danger to wildlife may arise from the “snowballing” impact of several threats, such as the loss of wild spaces, environmental pollution and climate change.
The good news is that southern Ontario’s many people can play a significant role in the preservation and rehabilitation of natural habitats. Everyone can make an effort to learn how to better co-exist with wildlife – at home, work or school – and help to reverse the tragic decline of wild populations.
It’s about preserving, connecting and revitalizing wildlife habitat.
Instead, the federal government plans to ‘streamline’ environmental assessments (EAs) in the 2012 budget setting specific federal EA timelines of 24 months for panel reviews and 12 months for standard EAs. As well, federal authorities will be authorized to accept provincial EAs as substitutes for or equivalent to federal EAs…. all to make it so much easier for industrial projects such as the Northern Gateway pipeline to be constructed.
Ontario – North America’s Official Banana Republic
In Ontario, while most of the media coverage of Budget Bill 55 has been about taxation and job creation or the lack of, there is a section within this bill under Section 19 that many should worry about. http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/bills/bills_detail.do?locale=en&BillID=2600&detailPage=bills_detail_the_bill&Intranet=
Under Section 19, once an industrial project is given the go-ahead by a Ministry and there are endangered/threatened species onsite, the proponent may interfere with them at will.
Previously, proponents had to request an ‘exemption permit’ under the Endangered Species Act. That request was posted on the EBR (Environmental Registry) and members of the public could register comments of support, concern and/or objection.
What kind of approved industrial projects will now be exempt from having to request an exemption permit if Bill 55 is adopted?
(a) a communications system;
(b) an electric power system, oil or gas pipeline, alternative energy system or renewable energy system;
(c) a transportation corridor or transportation facility;
(d) a waste management system; or
(e) water works, wastewater works, drainage works, stormwater works and associated facilities.
Moreover, the exemptions “apply to a person who is engaged in a non-commercial activity on lands, other than public lands, that are within 50 metres of the person’s primary residence or in any other area prescribed by the regulations”
The Conservative party has stated that its members will vote against the passage of Bill 55. Andrea Horwath, leader of the NDP, is negotiating with the Liberal government.
The government needs the support of the NDP in order to pass Bill 55.
Ms. Horwath has indicated she would like to hear from the public.
If you wish to see Section 19 which effectively guts the Endangered Species Act removed from Budget Bill 55… Ms. Horwath can be reached by email at: email@example.com
Ontario Wind Resistance has an easy click and send comment form posted on its website with regard to changes to the Endangered Species Act since large scale wind and solar developments will impact many species at risk.
One can copy and paste the message or write one’s own… it will be sent to all MPPs. Click on the link –
Aside from rendering the Endangered Species Act toothless, Bill 55 amends 69 different statutes in its schedules. Many environmentally significant laws are proposed to be amended. These laws include, as well as the Endangered Species Act, the Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act, the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, the Public Lands Act, the Crown Forest Sustainability Act, and the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act.
Previously, when the government proposed to amend legislation it would post a proposal notice on the Environmental Registry and solicit public comments for a minimum of 30 days. The government then would consider all public comments and then make a decision. Inviting public participation was intended help make for a more ‘transparent’ process. But, under a budget bill such as Bill 55, posting proposals to the EBR is not required and the public will not be invited to comment on the amendments to many acts and legislation that will affect them.