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Few details on proposed changes to significant laws under Bill 55

According to a recent blog by Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner, “[Budget] Bill 55 amends 69 different statutes in its schedules. For example, many environmentally significant laws that are administered by the Ministry of Natural Resources are proposed to be amended. These laws include the Endangered Species Act, the Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act, the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, the Public Lands Act, the Crown Forest Sustainability Act, and the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act. Laws such as these are prescribed under the Environmental Bill of Rights, 1993 (EBR).”

Little detail has been released but one example of the proposed changes would be to exempt developers from the Endangered Species Act and to remove the deadlines for species’ recovery strategies to be completed.

Normally, amendments to environmentally significant laws are posted for public consultation under the EBR. By including the amendments in the budget bill, the government has circumvented that process. This is one more instance of democracy being trampled by the McGuinty government. The Renewable Energy Act removed the power of municipalities to decide how many and where wind turbines and solar panels would be installed within their boundaries. It is a “damn the torpedoes” approach to planning and shows little regard for the people who pay the taxes and elect the government (or not!). Lack of respect for voters will not be tolerated as witnessed by the hundreds of individuals who stopped traffic in Toronto last week protesting the Ontario governments “green” policies.

Once again we are being railroaded. We encourage you to let the government know how you feel. Send Mr. McGuinty a letter and tell him that public consultation is essential to democracy. Remind him that ignoring rural Ontarians’ concerns will further jeopardize his government. Only by protesting will we be able to save important natural areas in Prince Edward County and throughout Ontario.

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The Prince Edward County Field Naturalists, founded in 1997, is an affiliate of Ontario Nature. It provides an educational forum dedicated to the study, promotion, appreciation and conservation of the flora and fauna within Prince Edward County. The public is welcome at the meetings held on the last Tuesday of the month from September to May, except December, at Bloomfield Town Hall. Guest speakers introduce a variety of nature related topics. All members are encouraged to participate at meetings by sharing their experiences and observations. Regularly scheduled field trips in the vicinity offer members the opportunity to experience various habitats. Membership in PECFN is open to all. Contact: Prince Edward County Field Naturalists, P.O. Box 477, Bloomfield, Ontario K0K 1G0 Or Cheryl Anderson 613-471-1096

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