Update on Ontario Government Gutting of Species-at Risk

Ontario Nature continues to fight the Ontario Government gutting of legislation that protects at-risk species. This is unacceptable, so we’re taking them to court.

New rules that came into effect in July allow major industries like forestry, mining, aggregates, energy, housing and oil and gas pipelines to avoid strict (and necessary!) environmental standards intended to protect at-risk species and their habitats.

What does that mean?

It means that projects like subdivisions, roads, pits and quarries are protected more so than endangered and threatened species. We simply cannot stand by as industry is given carte blanche to pave, drill, drain and bulldoze critical habitats.

We are demanding justice for wild species.

Together, we need to raise $50,000 between now and the end of November to prepare our legal case and launch a public campaign.

Will you please support this urgent appeal with your gift today?

Ontario Nature members and supporters like you fought hard for our gold standard Endangered Species Act back in 2007. But now our leaders are failing to deliver on their promise to protect endangered species.

Our government abandoned Ontario’s most imperiled species, taking away the protection they desperately need. But we are here to defend the species we love.

Take action with your gift to Ontario Nature today. Please stand with us for nature, and justice, today.

Yours for nature—and justice,

Executive Director, Ontario Nature

Neonicotinoid pesticides in Ontario

Information fromThe Ontario Beekeepers’ Association

The petition to ban neonicotinoid pesticides in Ontario has over 40,000 signatures! We’ve surpassed our goal, but let’s not stop here – we’re making significant progress toward protecting the future of pollinators and other wildlife. If each of us gets one more person to sign the petition we could pass 50,000 this week before we submit it to Premier Wynne.

In addition to supporting our efforts toward a ban in Ontario, here’s an opportunity for impact at the federal level: The Pest Management Regulatory Agency, the Federal body responsible for pesticide regulation and compliance in Canada, has issued a Call for Comments to their plans to protect bees from exposure to neonicotinoids. In their report (found here: http://bit.ly/15YVdoS), they acknowledge that the majority of examined pollinator mortalities were a result of exposure to neonicotinoid insecticides and “that current agricultural practices related to the use of neonicotinoid treated corn and soybean seed are not sustainable”.

They suggest a number of protective measures, but not a ban as yet. They need to hear from you! In addition to your own concerns, you can tell the PMRA that continued use of neonicotinoid pesticides poses an unacceptable likelihood of serious harm to honey bees and native pollinators and reduces pollination of wild plants in a way that may alter ecosystems. Tell them you are concerned about toxic build up in water and soil. Tell them you want these toxic chemicals removed from use before the 2014 planting season.

Here is the email link for comments: pmra.publications@hc-sc.gc.ca. You will need to provide your name, phone number and email address along with your comments.

Let’s make sure they don’t just hear from those with vested interests in pesticides, because, make no mistake, those who are against the ban are out in full force, using every means available to prevent or delay change. They have the resources, but we have the passion, the science and the support of thousands like you. Ontario’s beekeepers will never give up pressing for change and we hope you won’t either. For more information: www.ontariobee.com/neonics

The Ontario Beekeepers’ Association

Ontario Nature – Endangered Species Action – against Ontario Liberal Government

After exhausting all other avenues, Ontario Nature has joined forces with Ecojustice and Wildlands League to take the government to court for unlawfully gutting Ontario’s gold standard Endangered Species Act. We simply cannot stand by as the government trades in its gold standard act for fool’s gold.

This spring, the government approved changes that dramatically weaken protection for Ontario’s at-risk species, like Blanding’s turtle, American eel and lakeside daisy. We believe the changes are unlawful. The Endangered Species Act was intended to protect and recover the province’s most imperilled species. Instead the government has exempted a broad suite of industries from the law’s requirements to protect species and their habitats and significantly reduced government oversight of harmful activities.

Forestry wins the jackpot with a five-year blanket exemption. A blanket exemption for an industry that affects over 40 million hectares of land in Ontario! You can imagine what that means for a species like the woodland caribou that has already been pushed out of 50 percent of its historic range in the province.

But forestry is not the only industry that gets off the hook with the new exemptions. Others include mining, pits and quarries, hydro, wind power, subdivision development, road-building and waste management. Across the board, the new regulations protect industries over species, allowing industry to pave, drill, drain and bulldoze crucial habitat with almost zero government oversight.

Ontario’s gold standard Endangered Species Act has been undone, and we intend to set it right. For the sake of the more than 200 at-risk plant and animal species in Ontario and for everyone who believes that the law should be implemented as it was intended; we’re taking the government to court.

Caroline Schultz
Executive Director
Ontario Nature

Provincial Policy Statement 5-year Review (which commenced in March 2010)

Letter to Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing – endorsed by SLSN.

Via E-mail (minister.mah@ontario.ca)
The Honourable Linda Jeffrey
Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing
17th Floor, 777 Bay St
Toronto, ON
M5G 2E5

Dear Minister Jeffrey

Re: Provincial Policy Statement (2005), five-year Review

We, the under-signed, are writing to express our support for the Ontario government’s commitment to land use planning reform and to highlight important issues that have yet to be adequately addressed through the ongoing five-year Review of the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS).
We endorse the Province’s goal of promoting vibrant, healthy communities, while protecting the natural environment and creating a greener economy. We are pleased to note the renewed emphasis on sustainability, system-based planning, active transportation, transit and green infrastructure in the Draft Amended PPS. To more fully protect biodiversity and to mitigate and adapt to climate change, however, there are still significant issues which can and should be addressed through the ongoing PPS Review. To this end, we urge you to make the following key changes:

1. Establish clear priorities: The scope of the PPS is very broad, covering many interests and potentially conflicting land uses. We strongly recommend that the PPS be amended to clearly state that in the case of a conflict, the protection of human health and the natural environment will be prioritized.

2. Protect significant natural features and prime farmland from aggregates extraction: Now is the time for Ontario to revisit and revise the preferential treatment accorded to aggregate extraction under the PPS. Unfortunately, the Draft Amended PPS includes changes that would offer even more preferential treatment to aggregates extraction. Specifically, there is a proposed loophole that would allow aggregates extraction to proceed in prime farmland and in significant natural heritage features, based on the unrealistic premise that rehabilitation afterwards will fully restore the values lost. This loophole must be closed, first because rehabilitation may not occur for decades 2– if it ever occurs. (There are over 4,000 abandoned pits and quarries in Ontario that have yet to be rehabilitated.) And second, because the science of rehabilitation is far from perfect: removing huge quantities of rock and gravel results in permanent changes to hydrology and soils, and thus to the very conditions which support particular crops and plant and animal life.

3. Enhance protection for wetlands: We are pleased to note the increased protection offered to coastal wetlands in the Draft Amended PPS. The proposed revisions do not go far enough, however, to adequately protect this valuable resource. Wetlands are key to maintaining water supply and water quality and to enhancing landscape resilience in an era of climate change. They also provide habitat for many of the province’s most imperiled plants and animals. We urge you further revise the PPS so as to protect all coastal wetlands and all provincially significant wetlands province-wide. In the absence of an assessment of significance having been made, the highest level of protection should apply. In addition, given the dramatic loss of wetlands in southern and eastern Ontario (at least 72%, and over 90% in some areas), the PPS should be amended to protect all wetlands in this region from development.

4. Require system-based planning for natural heritage across Ontario: A new requirement of the Draft Amended PPS is the identification of natural heritage systems in southern and eastern Ontario. This is an important step, but does not go far enough. The protection and enhancement of natural heritage systems is a critical component of strategies to conserve biodiversity and to mitigate and adapt to climate change. As noted in a letter to you, dated April 5, 2013, from 31 community and environmental organizations in northern Ontario, natural heritage should be afforded equally strong protection in the north as in the south, since “good planning should be for all of Ontario.” The identification of natural heritage systems should be required across Ontario.

5. Require planning at the watershed and/or sub-watershed level: In order to meaningfully address biodiversity loss and climate change and to protect water systems, it is imperative that the PPS require watershed planning at the appropriate ecological scale.

6. Retain current policies for species at risk: The Draft Amended PPS significantly weakens the current level of protection for species at risk offered under the PPS by deferring to provincial and federal requirements, including the Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA).This legislation allows development to occur through permits and exemptions without consideration of matters normally addressed through municipal land use planning. We urge you to maintain the current level of protection by retaining the existing PPS 2005 policies regarding species at risk, which include a clear prohibition regarding development in the habitat of species at risk and on lands adjacent to that habitat.

7. Reference technical guidance: To assist planning authorities and decision-makers with implementation and to enable the development and adoption of progressive policies in official plans, the PPS should explicitly refer to the Natural Heritage Reference Manual, which provides detailed guidelines for natural heritage protection, and should require planning authorities to consider that guidance.

In conclusion, we fully support the PPS vision of fostering strong, sustainable, healthy and resilient communities across Ontario. To do so requires an approach to land use planning that accurately reflects and upholds the true value of our ecosystems and the goods and services that they provide.
Thank you for your attention. We look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Dr. Anastasia M. Lintner – Staff Lawyer & Economist, Ecojustice Canada
Caroline Schultz – Executive Director, Ontario Nature
Theresa McClenaghan – Executive Director and Counsel, Canadian Environmental Law Association
Andrew McCammon – Executive Director, Ontario Headwaters Institute
Julie Cayley – Manager of Government Relations, Ducks Unlimited Canada
Naomi Grant – Chair, Coalition for a Livable Sudbury

c.c. Gord Miller, Environmental Commissioner of Ontario

Ecojustice goes to Court with Federal Conservative Government over Pesticide use

Toxic pesticides like chlorthal-dimethyl and trichlorfon are harmful to you and the environment. Some are known to pollute water and kill bees, birds and fish. Others are believed to trigger neurological disorders and can cause cancer in humans. Europe’s already banned them, so why are they still being used in Canada?

Because the Government of Canada refuses to eliminate them.

We’ve asked nicely. But the federal government has so far outright refused our request to initiate reviews of four toxic, harmful pesticides, and has failed to even answer the same request for 26 others. That’s why Ecojustice — on behalf of the David Suzuki Foundation, Équiterre and all Canadians — is taking the federal government to court. It’s a last resort, but a powerful course of action.

We’re making the announcement today and wanted you to be the first to know. Cases like this can take months, even years to see through.

Lara Tessaro, staff lawyer and Dr. Elaine MacDonald, senior staff scientist
Ecojustice

Review of the Lake Simcoe Phosphorous Reduction Strategy

The Ministry of the Environment’s previously released Lake Simcoe Phosphorus Reduction Strategy acknowledges that environmental impacts of population growth currently planned in the Lake Simcoe watershed will make the achievement of the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan’s goals difficult, if not impossible. We set out this information again for club members to emphasize the importance of limiting phosphorous to the lake in future years.

The Strategy seems to work towards achieving the whole lake goal of 44 tons per year phosphorus loading down from today’s 72 tons per year. Importantly, I can see no real detailed plan in this strategy. No firm target dates of a myriad of implementation milestones to a tremendous amount of work that is needed to ensure the action of saving Lake Simcoe; really the intent of the Lake Simcoe Act.

The Provincial Growth Plan’s current population targets for the Lake Simcoe watershed are essentially why we (SLSN) are concerned the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan may fail. Given that this Strategy seems to continue to have no strong implementation actions of the aggressive form that must be done to really save Lake Simcoe, and there is no rigorous project management implementation plans.

A much more aggressive detailed implementation plan in naturalizing and Re-Wilding the entire Lake Simcoe to buffer the rivers and the Lake of phosphorus is required.

Our organization has been involved in projects of this kind in South Lake Simcoe for a number of years. As on-the-ground residents in rural and semi-urban locations, we know non-point source contributions are a major area of improvement needed for the future reduction of phosphorus in the lake. We see no evidence of urgency in implementation in this Strategy by the Province of Ontario to achieve the recommended 40% average natural cover target for the watershed, and we continue to push for full watershed naturalization to address particularly non-point source phosphorous.

We applaud the Lake Simcoe Protection Act for protecting an urbanized watershed attempted in Ontario and we applaud the province for this but need to have a much more aggressive Strategy and detailed Plan of implementation to meet the stated objectives of the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan.

P.H.

Insects: Their Natural History and Diversity

A New Book by Steve Marshall, U of Guelph – 2012

Guelph entomologist Steve Marshall has published a new insect book that is so extensive, it’s being called “an insect collection between covers.”

Not only does his 700-page Insects: Their Natural History and Diversity cover just about every family of six-legged creatures in eastern North America, but it also contains never-before-seen photographs, including one taken of a species of bee fly that lays its eggs in wasp nests.

“The bee fly is one of several species discovered for the first time in Canada in the course of this project,” says Marshall, a faculty member in the Department of Environmental Biology.

The book is the first species-level guide to a vast array of insects beyond the standards of butterflies and dragonflies. It deals mostly with insects found east of the Mississippi River and north of Georgia, including the six provinces east of Manitoba. That area is home to an estimated 100,000 insect species.

“Although many new discoveries were made while writing the book, I initiated this project to provide something badly needed by naturalists and students,” says Marshall.