TORONTO – Changes to Ontario’s Endangered Species Act have pitted environmental groups who accuse the government of gutting the legislation against municipal leaders and farmers who support the new streamlined rules. Natural Resources Minister David Orazietti said he’s moving ahead with standardized rules that will make it easier to carry out necessary activities, such as repairing a bridge, while still protecting species at risk.
“The regulatory changes, I certainly, feel have broad support and will make the implementation of the act moving forward effective,” Orazietti said. Mark Wales, president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, said the regulatory and administrative changes will improve the permitting process without compromising the integrity of the legislation. Russ Powers, president of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, said property owners and businesses will find the rules practical and effective.
For four major environmental groups, the new exemptions leave the province’s most threatened plants and animals at greater risk. Earthroots, Ontario Nature, the David Suzuki Foundation and Sierra Club Canada have joined forces to fight what they argue is the dismantling of the six-year-old act. The changes set a lower standard of protection for endangered wildlife where they conflict with industries such as forestry, pits and quarries, mining, hydro, infrastructure development, residential construction and renewable energy projects, environmentalists say. Read article