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.

Great Lakes Marsh Monitoring Program (MMP): Information 2013

The 2013 Marsh Monitoring Program survey season begins in early spring (March/April) and, ideally, everyone should be registered by late February. The program can accommodate late registrations but please register as soon as you are certain that you want to participate.

Volunteers monitor close to home and can survey amphibians, birds or both depending on the skill and time availability. Materials provided instruct people of route establishment and survey techniques. Novices can readily learn to identify calling frog and toads from the materials we provide but for bird surveys we ask they you are able to identify 50 common marsh species prior to attempting the surveys. On average it takes about 10 hours a year to survey, this is split between late March and early July. But, during the first season, more time is needed as you learn the techniques and set up the route.

Each MMP survey route consist of as few as 1 or up to as many as 8, semi-circular sample stations, each with a radius of 100-metres (110 yards). Sample stations must face areas of emergent marsh vegetation – small numbers of trees or shrubs can occur within the station but more than half of the area within the semi-circle must be dominated by non-woody, emergent plants such as cattail, bulrush, reed, grasses or sedges. Both the marsh bird and amphibian surveys are conducted facing into the marsh while standing at the centre of the 200-metre (220 yard) long semi-circle. Stations are usually accessed along the edge of marshes, on a dike or trail. However, volunteers interested in monitoring a route accessible only by boat or canoe are encouraged to do so. In very large marshes, it may be possible for several different stations to be established by one or more volunteers. In smaller, or less accessible marshes, it may be feasible to establish only 1 or 2 stations.

The 2012 Marsh Monitoring Program Route Map is available online. The map is color-coded for availability. If you are interested in surveying birds look at red and purple dots; if you are interested in surveying amphibians look at red and blue dots. Green and yellow dots are not available. Our priority is to assign new volunteers to existing routes but, if there are no routes near you, volunteers can establish a new route in an appropriate marsh near when they live.

On 10 February 2012 – Bird Studies Canada, through support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, hosted two free one-hour webinars on the volunteer-based “An Introduction to the Great Lakes Marsh Monitoring Program” (GLMMP) & “An In-depth Look at the Great Lakes Marsh Monitoring Program Field Protocol” and hopefully similar sessions will be held in March 2013. The webinars introduce attendees to the GLMMP, its goals, and its techniques and protocols. The in-depth webinar can also serve as a refresher for experienced program participants prior to the upcoming survey season.

Ask P. Harpley for further details.

2012 Durham Butterfly Count Results

Results can be viewed here in here format

Participants:

Oshawa: Jerry Ball, Dennis Barry, Susan Brown, Peter Clute, Cathy Galberg, Ann Hilborn, James, Lynda, Liam & Nathan Kamstra, Carolyn King, Steve LaForest, Tom Mason, Dianne & Otto Peter, Rayfield Pye.

Sunderland: Karli Allen, Jerry Ball, Dennis Barry, Dave Bishop, Josh Blanchard, Susan Blayney, Dan Bone, Jon Boxall, Margaret Carney, Peter Clute, Alec Follett, Ann Hilborn, David Himelfarb, Jim Hopkins, Glenda Jones, James, Lynda, Nathan & Liam Kamstra, Carolyn King, Steve LaForest, Thom Lambert, Tom Mason, Les McClair, Ed Poropat, Rayfield Pye, Victoria Ridenour, Kathy Story, Norbert Woerns, Bob & Karen Yukich.

Doing Less with Less – MNR’s Fish and Wildlife Monitoring Programs, Ontario

A Special Report to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario – Submitted by Gord Miller, Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, April 24, 2007

MNR is responsible for the protection and management of animal and plant species in Ontario, including advising planners and builders of infrastructure about the habitat values of lands proposed for development. The ministry conducts population inventories of less than 10 per cent of Ontario’s mammalian species, and there is evidence of limited capacity to monitor even high priority species such as moose, black bear and white-tailed deer. MNR relies heavily on third parties for monitoring and assessment of bird populations and habitat. The ministry also has a very limited capacity to inventory and monitor sport fish species and habitats.

Selection of Vertebrate Wildlife Indicators For Monitoring Sustainable Forest Management in Ontario

Margaret A. McLaren, Ian D. Thompson, James A. Baker
The Forestry Chronicle, 1998, 74(2): 241-248, 10.5558/tfc74241-2
Abstract

Part of a recently advocated method of sustainable forest development employs indicator species as fine filters to assess changes within ecosystems and landscapes. Researchers used a series of criteria based on biology, sampling methods, and legal or particular status to select vertebrate indicator species for the province of Ontario. The criteria for selection were applied in a hierarchical manner, with species ecology given primary importance, followed by sampling considerations, and status criteria. The latter represented certain societal weightings and political or featured management concerns. Species fitting the selection criteria were placed in a four-dimensional matrix (with axes: broad habitat type, age class, trophic level, and spatial scale), and species were then chosen from among the matrix cells. The exercise reduced the total vertebrate species in two forest biomes (Boreal and Great-Lakes St. Lawrence) to a relative few, from which the final choices were made primarily based on expert opinion. In Ontario, the species selected as indicators of biological diversity in the future will be used to test the underlying general hypothesis that forest management has no effect on species richness and species abundance, or the distribution of species in time and space.

This is an important and timely study with regard to preserving biodiversity in Ontario Forests with active logging as part of the management mix.

P.H.