Rationale for Exemption to Public Comment:
This proposal is exempted by Ontario Regulation 681/94 under the Environmental Bill of Rights as a classified proposal for an instrument, because the species for which the permit is sought is an animal. The Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) is voluntarily posting this notice to advise the public of the proposal and to invite the public to submit written comments on this proposal to the contact person identified in this notice.
K2 Wind Ontario Inc is seeking a permit under clause 17(2)(c) of the Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA) to authorize an activity that would otherwise contravene section 10 of the ESA with respect to Bobolink in order to construct a wind facility in the Township of Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh, County of Huron, Ontario.
Purpose of the Notice:
The purpose of this notice is to ensure that the public is made aware of, and given an opportunity to comment on, the overall benefit permit proposal for the wind facility in the Township of Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh, County of Huron, Ontario. The proposed permit would be issued under clause 17(2)(c) of the ESA.
The proposal to construct a 270 megawatt wind facility has the potential to adversely affect Bobolink habitat. The proposed permit conditions would provide benefits that exceed the adverse effects on Bobolink. Bobolink is listed on the Species at Risk in Ontario (SARO) List, in Ontario Regulation 230/08 of the ESA, as Threatened. Habitat protection under the ESA applies to Bobolink (subsection 10(1)).
The ESA allows some activities to proceed under a clause 17(2)(c) permit with specific conditions if: avoidance and reasonable alternatives have been considered; adverse effects will be minimized; and an overall benefit will be achieved for the species in Ontario. Providing an overall benefit to a protected species under the ESA involves undertaking actions to improve circumstances for the species in Ontario. Overall benefit is more than “no net loss” or an exchange of “like for like”. Overall benefit is grounded in the protection and recovery of the species at risk and must include more than mitigation measures or “replacing” what is lost.
The Minister may issue a permit under clause 17(2)(c) of the ESA that authorizes a person to engage in an activity that would otherwise be prohibited by section 9 or 10 of the ESA if the Minister is of the opinion that:
(i) an overall benefit to the species will be achieved within a reasonable time through the conditions of the permit;
(ii) reasonable alternatives have been considered, including alternatives that would not negatively affect the species, and the best alternative has been adopted; and,
(iii) reasonable steps to minimize negative effects on individual members of the species are required by conditions of the permit.
Approximately 35.3 hectares of habitat for Bobolink has been identified within the project location and would be impacted by the development. K2 Wind Ontario Inc has applied for an overall benefit permit under clause 17(2)(c) of the Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA) to remove 35.3 hectares of Bobolink habitat for the purpose of developing the site into a wind facility to produce renewable energy.
Reasonable alternatives are being considered, including ones that would not adversely affect the species, such as:
– Removing the 11 turbines and associated project components proposed within Bobolink habitat from the project.
– Relocating the 11 turbines and associated project components that occur within Bobolink habitat to an area outside of Bobolink habitat.
Potential approaches to minimize adverse effects on individual members of Bobolink may include:
– Conducting vegetation removal and construction activities outside the breeding bird season when Bobolink would not be present on the site,
– Minimizing the width of access roads, turning radii and construction areas within Bobolink habitat
– Rehabilitating areas of temporary disturbance back to Bobolink habitat immediately after construction.
Potential approaches to achieve an overall benefit for Bobolink, may include:
– Securing 35.3 hectares of existing hayfield in a location approved by the MNR, to be managed as high quality habitat for Bobolink for the duration of the project;
– Monitoring the replacement Bobolink habitat for use by the species every 5 years after it is established, for the duration of the project.
Please note that the posting of this proposal on the Environmental Registry does not imply that a permit will be approved; a permit may only be issued where the legal requirements set out in clause 17(2)(c) of the ESA have been satisfied.
The following weblinks provide additional information.
MNR’s Species at Risk website
Endangered Species Act, 2007
Species at Risk in Ontario (SARO) List, Ontario Regulation 230/08
General regulations and species-specific habitat regulations under the ESA, Ontario Regulation 242/08