BREAK’S OVER: Urgent action needed on proposed changes to Ontario’s Endangered Species Act
The break is over and we only have a few days to convince the Ontario government not to weaken its already inadequate enforcement of the Endangered Species Act.
The Natural Resources Ministry wants to stop issuing permits to developers wanting to build in areas where endangered species are living. Instead of being required to obtain a permit (as is the case now) when working in sensitive habitat areas home to endangered or threatened species, developers and industry would only have to voluntarily comply with existing rules and regulations. In our business "voluntary regulation" is an oxymoron; a misnomer for deregulation or the wholesale gutting of regulation (remember voluntary labeling of GM foods – 10 years later we’re still waiting for that to happen).
Sold as a necessary measure to cut regulatory ‘red tape’, developers insist permits are expensive and cumbersome (as the Ministry has to investigate every permit application). Permits are unnecessary - just trust us, is their argument.
Wrong. Permits are incredibly important. It is through the permitting system that the Ministry has key data to properly monitor cumulative impact of development over time. Such a move would inevitably lead to large-scale species loss, and irreparably damage sensitive habitat and biodiversity in Ontario. Bad idea!
It was a nice try by the developers, but the reality is this: the reason they want to get rid of permits is to maximize profits (or ease their financial burden, in their lingo), endangered species be damned.
I'm urging you to weigh-in and show your support for endangered species. We have an excellent chance of stopping this! The minority Ontario Liberal government has already backed down from far worse changes proposed last spring, and they are also in the midst of choosing a new leader (so everyone is on their best behavior).
Public pressure can make a real difference right now! Please take 30 seconds and join us by voicing your opposition to the scheme.
The comment period ends January 21st so I am urging you to act now – endangered species urgently need our help. It only takes 30 seconds so please send your letter now.
Thanks for your consideration and ongoing support on this important issue.
John Bennett, Executive Director
Photo Credits: American Badger (Don Getty); Piping Plover (Mingjia Dai); and Blanding's Turtle (Jonathan Mays)