A Dark Day for Endangered Species and Environmental Protection in Ontario –

Ford Government’s “More Homes, More Choice Act” Guts Protections for Ontario’s Most Vulnerable Plants and Animals

Passed by Ford’s MPPs June 6th – One Day after World Environment Day – the Act allows “those with a vested, short-term economic interest in sprawl development now have free rein to bulldoze, dig up and pave over the habitats of our most vulnerable plants and animals.” – Kelsey Scarfone, program manager, Environmental Defence.

A News Release from four of Canada’s major environmental groups – Ontario Nature, the David Suzuki Foundation and Environmental Defence and Earth Roots

Posted June 6, 2019 on Niagara At Large

ONTARIO — Today (this June 6th) the Government of Ontario passed the More Homes, More Choice Act, a law that opens significant wildlife habitat to sprawl development through amendments to the Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA).

The amendments give new powers to the Minister to delay, limit and remove protections for at-risk species. Further, it creates numerous, overlapping pathways for developers and industrialists to dodge critical requirements.

These images are making the rounds on social media as the Ford government moved forward with plans to pull the teeth out of Ontario’s Endangered Species Act on behalf of developers bent on paving over what is left of our natural heritage. For Ford MPPs and supporters, it was mission accomplished this June 6th with passage of Ford’s “More Homes, More Choices Act.”

“The Endangered Species Act has been torn to shreds,” says Kelsey Scarfone, program manager with Environmental Defence. “Those with a vested, short-term economic interest in sprawl development now have free rein to bulldoze, dig up and pave over the habitats of our most vulnerable plants and animals.”

“The forestry industry, which is contributing to, if not driving, the decline of boreal caribou in Ontario, successfully lobbied in the past for exemptions to the ESA meaning they didn’t have to comply with the prohibitions,” says Rachel Plotkin, Boreal Project Manager with the David Suzuki Foundation. “Now there is no need for an exemption—the ESA has been weakened to the extent that status quo logging operations can continue under its watch.”

In the face of growing opposition to the proposed law, the provincial government chose to ram the Bill through the Legislature, curtailing debate and ignoring the serious concerns of environmental organizations, scientists, Indigenous voices, municipalities and tens of thousands of citizens.

“These changes do not reflect the values or long-term interests of the people of Ontario. The haste with which the government proceeded ensured that Ontarians would have no say in the outcome,” says Anne Bell, director of conservation and education at Ontario Nature. “Calls to engage in genuine public consultation over the coming summer were swept aside.” The amendments also reduce future opportunities for public input on ESA matters under the Environmental Bill of Rights.

A mom and her young one in Waverly Woods in Fort Erie, a home for a diversity of wildlife and now a target of developers. Ford Act may mean even less protection for wildlife like this now and the places they live. Photo courtesy of Fort Erie residents fighting to save this wonderful place

The ESA gutting follows a ground-breaking United Nations report, released in May, that documents the rapid decline of ecosystems and accelerating rates of species extinction. According to the report, a million species are now threatened with extinction.

“These changes to the ESA take us in the wrong direction,” says Gord Miller Chair of Earthroots and former Environmental Commissioner of Ontario. “The alarming patterns of biodiversity loss, outlined in the United Nations report, hold true everywhere, including Ontario, and threaten the very foundations of our well-being and our economies.”

About ONTARIO NATURE (www.ontarionature.org): Ontario Nature protects wild species and wild spaces across the province through conservation, education and public engagement. Ontario Nature is a charitable organization representing more than 30,000 members and supporters, and 150 member groups across Ontario.

About DAVID SUZUKI FOUNDATION (www.davidsuzuki.org): The David Suzuki Foundation is a leading Canadian environmental non-profit organization, collaborating with all people in Canada, including government and business, to conserve the environment and find solutions that will create a sustainable Canada through evidence-based research, public engagement and policy work. The Foundation operates in English and French, with offices in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal.

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.

About EARTHROOTS (www.earthroots.org): Earthroots is a grassroots conservation organization dedicated to the protection of Ontario’s wilderness, wildlife and watersheds. Earthroots conducts species at risk research, educates the public about the environment, and inspires Ontarians to participate in protecting the ecological community of which we are all a part.

A Brief Footnote from Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper –

My warning is this. Watch for Ford and his MPPs to shred Ontario’s Greenbelt protection legislation next.

If you have any doubts that the Ontario Premier would gut Greenbelt protections, watch this Youtube video catching him talking to developers about it early last year, before the June 2018 provincial election by clicking on screen below – 

To view the February 2018 video of Doug Ford making his comments about the Greenbelt, click on –

To learn more about Ontario’s Greenbelt, click on –https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenbelt_(Golden_Horseshoe) .

NIAGARA AT LARGE encourages you to join the conversation by sharing your views on this post in the space following the Bernie Sanders quote below.

 A reminder that we only post comments by individuals who also share their first and last names.

For more news and commentary from Niagara At Large – an independent, alternative voice for our greater bi-national Niagara region – become a regular visitor and subscriber to NAL at www.niagaraatlarge.com .

“A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders

 

 

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4 responses to “A Dark Day for Endangered Species and Environmental Protection in Ontario –

  1. Gail Benjafield

    Allow me to repeat myself. It also guts the Ontario Heritage Act which addresses heritage in Ontario. The Ont. Her. Foundation (Trust), the Architectural Conservancy of Otario and every single conservation or preservation group in the provinceoapposed this. City planners no longer have any kind of autonomy over their jurisdictions: we are back to the good old OMB to decide how municipal planning is done.

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    • Linda McKellar

      Gail – There have been reports for decades that bodies, perhaps aboriginal or from the War of 1812, have been cemented over or exhumed and thrown away for decades in Fort Erie. People building cottages in the 20’s and 30’s reported “grandpa found a body”. Yet the desecration of sacred sites continues.

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  2. Pathetic but predictable with this crowd in office. Must all continue to write and protest to the government that “listens to the people” har har!!

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  3. Gail Benjafield

    Linda McKellar is right. Our ancestors appeared to care about little except clearing land and settling. As a librarian/historian I am certainly aware of the desecration of lands and bodies in building towns and cities. John Nicol wrote about Snake Hill in Fort Erie, going back to the War of 1812. Worth a read. As a member of the local Heritage Committee and the St. C. Historical Society of long standing, it happened all over. Bodies have been found in St. C. as recently as three years ago near the old St. Josephs Convent and current St. George church.

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