Extreme disappointment with Ministry of Natural Resources
KENORA – Extreme disappointment with Ministry of Natural Resources. “We have been working with the Ontario Forest Industries Association and forest companies for the past six years on this issue, and we firmly believe that the forest sector recommendation forwarded in the report is a necessary step in ensuring that the ESA does not have any unintended consequences” says David Canfield, Executive Vice President of Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association (NOMA). Yet NOMA is being left on the sidelines as the Ministry of Natural Resources is studying how to implement the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
NOMA is expressing extreme disappointment that they were excluded from th government appointed panel tasked with providing recommendations to the MNR on how to improve the implementation of the provincial ESA. In December, Canfield stated, “We need to be able to make decisions here in the Northwest that will drive economic development and allow us to take full advantage of the incredible potential of our natural resources. Queen’s Park cannot and does not understand, and except for about a dozen MPPs does not care, what we need to do to create jobs and opportunities for our citizens.”
On January 21, 2013, the Endangered Species Act Panel Report and Recommendations was released for public review.
While NOMA awaits an explanation from the government for being left out of the discussion, they are pleased to note a recommendation outlining the need for mandatory socio-economic impact assessments on all ESA related policies.
More importantly, NOMA is also pleased to see the forest sector’s recommendation 3.5-3a which asks the government to develop a regulation under the ESA which recognizes that the Crown Forest Sustainability Act (CFSA) is equivalent to the ESA in its provision for species at risk and that, and as such, that the forest sector will not be subjected to duplicative and unnecessary protocols – something the government had committed to during the development of the ESA.
“Ontario has a world-class forest management framework in place that provides for a variety of values, including the mandatory protection of species at risk and their habitat. This process is constantly adapting to new science to ensure that forestry standards are always up to date. We know it, the government knows it, and that is why this recommendation needs to be acted on right away”.
NOMA is calling on the provincial government to fulfill their commitment and act on recommendation 3.5-3a of the ESA Panel Report immediately. NOMA is also asking government to disregard a proposal forwarded by southern Ontario interests (recommendation 3.5-3b) that would increase costs to the industry and reduce investment certainty in the North.
NOMA represents the interests of 37 municipalities from Kenora and Rainy River in the west to Hornepayne and Wawa in the east. It provides leadership in advocating regional interests to all orders of government and other organizations.
Ministry of Natural Resources – Endangered Species Act
This report has been prepared for consideration by the Minister of Natural Resources in his efforts to improve implementation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). It has been authored by a panel of stakeholders representing a broad cross section of interests, all of whom have direct experience in the application of the Act to date and all of whom are committed to the protection and recovery of Species at Risk in Ontario.
The Stakeholder Panel identified six key themes under which recommendations and rationale therefore are organized. Additional important considerations are also included. These recommendations are to be considered an integrated collective rather than independent of one another and the Panel strongly advises that they be considered as such.
The document contains a total of twenty nine (29) recommendations that have been compiled into the following themes:
• Timing of Habitat Protection
• Nature of Habitat Protection
• Transition Provisions
• Streamlining of Approvals
• Linkages with Existing Legislation
• Research and Monitoring
• Additional Important & Relevant Considerations