New regulations cut big hole in safety net for species on brink of
TORONTO, June 3, 2013 /CNW/ - Today CPAWS Wildlands League warns that
Ontario has shattered its once North American leading legislation as it
bends over backwards to help industries at the expense of more than 60
threatened and endangered species in the province. Broad and sweeping
regulations released late last Friday confirm that Ontario is
proceeding with permanent exemptions and longer transition exemptions
for industries and activities from the Endangered Species Act.
"It is our worst fear. Make a law then gut it. Even a great law can be
castrated," says Janet Sumner, Executive Director of the group. "And
that's exactly what they've done. The province has taken what we
applauded as the gold standard and neutered it through backdoor
regulations. Might as well say goodbye and lay your bets on which
species winks out fastest," Sumner adds. The Ontario Endangered Species Act is a safety net intended to be a series of last gasp measures needed to
pull species back from the brink of extinction and then help them
recover. "Ontario has cut a big hole in the safety net with these
regulations," Sumner said.
In a letter addressed to Premier Wynne last week, CPAWS Wildlands League
resigned from the Endangered Species Act Stakeholder Panel because its participation in the Panel was being used
to provide green cover for the MNR's broad sweeping use of exemptions.
The panel's recommendations did not include support for broad sector
wide permanent exemptions.
With the new regulations, forestry, Ring of Fire mines, transmission
lines, wind power, mineral exploration, drainage works, hydro electric
generating facilities, sub-divisions, condominiums, pipelines, waste
management projects, transit, and pits and quarries would all benefit
from exemptions from the Act. The group is alarmed that not one habitat
regulation for the species affected was put forward.
"The proposed new rules outlined are more complex, bureaucratic and
byzantine in nature than that Act itself with the only difference now
is proponents caught by the regulations won't need to actually meet the
test of the Act," says Anna Baggio, Director Conservation Planning for
the group. "MNR has turned the Endangered Species Act on its head by focusing on how to exempt industries instead of how to
take care of species at risk. That's quite a feat for a ministry whose
core mandate is natural resources stewardship including endangered
species," Baggio noted.
The regulations being made by Ontario fail to provide the meaningful
protections needed for Woodland caribou, Wolverine, Acadian Flycatcher,
Blanding's Turtle, Lake Chubsucker, Forked Three-awned grass and
Eastern Hog-nosed snake to list a few of the more than sixty species
that will be affected by these regulations. In terms of next steps, the
group is considering all its options including legal.
SOURCE: Wildlands League
For further information:
Janet Sumner 416-579-7370 mobile or Anna Baggio 416-453-3285 mobile