Ontario’s largest conservation organizations strongly support the passage of the Far North Act and call on all MPPs to vote for the bill on 3rd reading. They support Bill 191 because it will ensure that First Nation community plans precede development and that the conservation of cultural and ecological values is pursued in conjunction with economic development.
The legislation enshrines commitments made in 2008 by Premier McGuinty to conserve the boreal forest, plan for future development, and increase the role of Aboriginal people in decision-making within their traditional territories. This legislation advances these goals and includes the provision for a new joint provincial-First Nations body to aid in the implementation and regional coordination of planning. This will be among the best northern land-use planning laws anywhere in Canada and will help conserve one of the world’s most important carbon storehouses, helping in the fight against climate change.
The groups recognize that further dialogue between First Nations and the provincial government is required to address outstanding treaty and governance issues in the region and encourages the Ontario government and First Nations to begin these discussions as soon as possible.
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For more information please visit www.borealopportunity.ca and contact:
Janet Sumner, CPAWS-Wildlands League
416 971 9453 ext. 39
Monte Hummel, WWF-Canada
(416) 489 4567 ext. 7223
Pierre Iachetti, ForestEthics
(604) 816 2034
Rick Smith, Environmental Defence
(416) 670-9521
Caroline Schultz, Ontario Nature
(416) 768-9795
Backgrounder
On July 14th, 2008, Premier Dalton McGuinty made a historic commitment to protect at least 225,000 square kilometres of Ontario’s northern Boreal region through a new approach to land planning that meaningfully involves aboriginal peoples (www.premier.gov.on.ca/news/Product.asp?ProductID=2353).  This is the largest conservation commitment in Canadian history and elevates Ontario to being a world leader in protecting terrestrial carbon and conserving the internationally significant Boreal ecosystem.  On September 19th of that year the Premier announced that the Province would develop new legislation to guide boreal protection and planning. Bill 191 is that legislation
Quick Facts

The Boreal forest of Ontario’s north is currently almost completely undeveloped. Located north of approximately 50 degrees latitude and covering an area of 45 million hectares or 43% of the province’s landmass, it is home to many Aboriginal communities who wish to plan for their futures.  It also contains wild rivers, wetlands and an abundance of pristine forests that provide habitat for many species that are threatened or rare in other parts of Ontario. It is also one of the largest terrestrial carbon storehouses in the world and its conservation is a cornerstone of the Premier’s climate change strategy.
The Northern Boreal region is 43 per cent of Ontario’s land mass
It is home to 24,000 people living in 36 communities
The region absorbs approximately 12.5 million tonnes of CO2 from our atmosphere each year
There are two operating mines in the region, Victor Diamond Mine and the Musselwhite Gold Mine
There is considerable economic potential from additional mines and from hydroelectric development
There is only one all season road in the region which terminates in Pickle Lake
The region is a stronghold for Woodland Caribou, Polar Bear, Lake Sturgeon, Wolverine and other species at risk.
Find more information on the values of the region at www.borealopportunity.ca