New Regulations Weaken Ontario's Endangered Species Act
January 18 , 2013 (Ottawa) Nature Canada submitted the following comments to Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources regarding proposed changes to the province's Endangered Species Act.
Re: Comments on the Regulation Proposal Notice to the Endangered Species Act (EBR Registry number 011-7696)
Please accept the following correspondence from Nature Canada in regards to the Regulation Proposal Notice EBR Registry Number: 011-7696. We would like to thank you for the opportunity to comment on these proposed regulations.
Ontario is one of the only provinces or territories in Canada with a dedicated Endangered Species Act, for which Ontario should be proud. With this Act Ontario is leading the fight within Canada to protect and recover at risk species and the habitat they depend on. Please continue to make the effective implementation of this act a priority, and make Ontario an excellent example to the rest of Canada.
The proposed regulatory amendments which will authorize activities to occur outside of the Ministry of Natural Resources’ knowledge or control, even when impacting Ontario’s most sensitive species and habitats is of great concern to us. We are particularly concerned by the proposal to allow already approved or planned activities to proceed without consideration for newly listed Species At Risk in Ontario, habitat that is newly protected, or previously unaccounted for species at risk found at the site despite the fact that these species and habitats will be affected by the activity. This proposal leaves species and habitats vulnerable to threat and exploitation, even after the Province promises to provide them protection by listing species or by classifying habitat requirements. Help the Endangered Species Act fulfill its purpose of protecting and recovering species at risk in Ontario and the habitat they depend on.
We fear the emphasis of this proposal on individuals or businesses voluntarily following rules and established regulations without being held accountable in the form of applying for and renewing permits will make it extremely difficult if not impossible to regulate and enforce conformity of these rules and regulations. The issuing 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.
Instead of removing the permit process for common practices for administrative efficiencies, we recommend the MNR considers placing the financial burden of permit acquisition on the shoulders of those who will benefit from them as an alternative funding method.
We are concerned that these proposals will have a potentially substantial negative impact on endangered species in Ontario and the habitat on which they depend. We hope a solution can be reached which will allow the act to be implemented efficiently without compromising the continued protection or recovery of endangered and at risk species and their habitat.
Please do not hesitate to contact us should you have any questions regarding this correspondence.