Toronto, Ont. – Legal changes hidden in the budget show the Ontario government is accelerating its attack on the environment on behalf of developer and industry interests at the expense of the public and future generations.
Proposed changes include:
- Creating a mechanism to override the science-based decisions of Conservation Authorities regarding the protection of wetlands, woodlands, endangered species habitats and flood protection
- Permanent exemption of the forest industry from compliance with the Endangered Species Act
“The Ontario government is busy taking apart 75 years of progress in preventing and mitigating the impacts of flooding, preserving forests, wetlands and protecting our sources of clean drinking water,” said Tim Gray, Executive Director of Environmental Defence. “Replacing the science-based decisions of Conversation Authorities with political ones that serve developer interests is a recipe for disaster.”
Conservation Authorities have professionally trained staff, including ecologists and hydrologists, who are best placed to understand the impacts of development on key environmental features. By taking over control to authorize or deny development permits, the Ontario government will help the development industry continue to destroy key forests, wetlands, and recreational areas across the province. This will allow, for example, the province to ensure the destruction of the coastal wetland in Lower Duffins Creek to proceed over the objection of the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, the Town of Ajax and thousands of citizens objections.
Similarly, the province’s further gutting of protection for endangered species is a long sought goal of the forest industry, as it continues to extirpate woodland caribou from Ontario’s boreal forest.
“Now the forest industry will be free to ignore the plight of woodland caribou and other species that are threatened with extinction or extirpation,” said Tim Gray.
These proposed changes will be exempt from public consultation because they are contained in a budget bill.
About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (www.environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence is a leading Canadian advocacy organization that works with government, industry and individuals to defend clean water, a safe climate and healthy communities.
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