New regulation guts the Endangered Species Act.

Caledon OspreyThe Environmental Commissioner of Ontario has published a report warning citizens that a recent regulation created under the Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA) has watered down protection for these species. While the ESA prohibits harming, harassing and killing endangered and threatened species the new regulation gives some proponents a pass.

"The full protections of the law no longer apply to activities such as forestry operations, aggregate pits and quarries, hydro-electric dams and infrastructure construction - activities that historically contributed to species becoming threatened in the first place." Environmental Commissioner of Ontario

Proponents operating in areas containing these species and their supporting habitat, where harm may be done to them as a result of the operations, have until now required permits. Permits come with conditions and the scrutiny of monitoring agencies. Now certain industries will no longer require permits before they can make changes to landscapes that support such species.

"By effectively exempting most of the major activities on the landscape that can harm species at risk and their habitats, the regulation thwarts the very purposes of the act, There is little to no opportunity to promote the recovery of species at risk." Commissioner Gord Miller

Under the new regulation all that proponents have to do is have a "plan" to "mitigate" risks to the endangered species but they are no longer required to actively protect them by helping them to recover and by improving their situations. Nor do they have to submit documentation to MNR. No one monitors the plan - it is largely a self regulatory process. The MNR is virtually out of the picture.

"By eliminating the permit process, the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) has shed its ability to say ‘no' to a proposed activity, no matter how harmful it may be to an imperilled species, and since proponents don't have to file any monitoring reports with the ministry, MNR will be blind to the effectiveness of its new rules." Commissioner Miller

The ECO's Special Report:
Laying Siege to the Last Line of Defence: A Review of Ontario's Weakened Protections for Species at Risk

MNR has received 10,034 comments in response to its proposal on the Environmental Registry to make these regulatory amendments. This is more than twice as many public comments as all other policy, act and regulation decisions combined as posted on the Environmental Registry in 2013.

To register you comments at EBR:
www.eco.on.ca/index.php/en_US/2013-the-ebr-and-you/how-to-comment-on-a-proposal-posted-on-the-environmental-registry