Read more on the ECO’s site
Aside from many other reasons to reject the budget, this amendment appears is not on the general public’s radar and is a huge concern. Bill 55 amends 69 different statutes in its schedules. Many environmentally significant laws that are administered by the Ministry of Natural Resources are proposed to be amended. These laws include 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. Laws such as these are prescribed under the Environmental Bill of Rights, 1993 (EBR).
If the budget passes, industrial wind developers will no longer have to request an exemption permit under the Endangered Species Act or post such notice to the EBR! There have been six exemption permit requests in the last few months by solar and wind developers. Samsung, at this moment, is requesting an exemption permit to rid the area of meadowlarks and bobolinks for its wind power plant. The developers must be delighted! Is there any doubt left as to who is really running the McGuinty government?
Schedule 19 endangered species act, 2007
1. The Endangered Species Act, 2007 is amended by adding the following section:
Exemptions from prohibitions
10.1 (1) Despite subsections 9 (1) and 10 (1) and subject to subsections (6) and (7), a person who is engaged in an activity described in subsection (2), (4) or (5) may, in the course of the activity,
(a) commit an act that would otherwise be prohibited under clause 9 (1) (a) or under subsection 10 (1); and
(b) possess or transport anything that the person would otherwise be prohibited from possessing or transporting under clause 9 (1) (b).
Infrastructure maintenance, repair, etc.
(2) The exemptions described in subsection (1) apply to a person who is engaged in maintaining, repairing or replacing infrastructure described in subsection (3) if the maintenance, repair or replacement does not,
(a) change the location of the infrastructure;
(b) extend the area the infrastructure occupies in any way; or
(c) alter the way in which the infrastructure is used or operated.
(3) The infrastructure referred to in subsection (2) includes any infrastructure that is part of or related to,
(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.
(4) The exemptions described in subsection (1) 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.
From the Environmental Commissioners Website:
Last Tuesday, the Government of Ontario presented its proposed budget. The Minister of Finance, the Honourable Dwight Duncan, tabled for first reading in the legislature Bill 55 – Strong Action for Ontario Act (Budget Measures), 2012. This budget bill is effectively the mother-of-all pieces of omnibus legislation.
Bill 55 amends 69 different statutes in its schedules. For example, many environmentally significant laws that are administered by the Ministry of Natural Resources are proposed to be amended. These laws include 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. Laws such as these are prescribed under the Environmental Bill of Rights, 1993 (EBR).
Normally, when the government proposes to amend legislation that is prescribed under the EBR, it would post a proposal notice on the Environmental Registry and solicit public comments for a minimum of 30 days. The government then considers the public comments and makes a decision. These steps help make for a transparent and accountable process.
However, budgets bills are specifically exempt from the posting and public consultation requirements of the EBR. Moreover, the Ministry of Finance is not prescribed under the EBR either. As a result, the public does not have the same opportunities to contribute to decision making when a number of environmentally significant laws are changed in a budget bill.
I wrote about a very similar situation in my last Annual Report regard the use of omnibus legislation: “At best, using omnibus legislation to amend environmental laws complicates the EBR process. At worst, it can obstruct the public’s right to participate in environmental decision making.”