Ontario may let developers pay fee in lieu of ‘onerous’ Endangered Species Act protections

“So sad it’s heartbreaking. So to tally this up, hates endangered species, teachers, kids with autism, books, nurses, mental health patients, students, indigenous affairs, cyclists, climate action, green energy projects…I’m sure I’ve missed some. But wow.”  17 hours ago

Environment minister Rod Phillips (right) seen in the legislature on April 11, 2019. Photo by Chris Katsarov

Ontario’s government wants to allow developers to pay a fee to avoid complying with environmental regulations that protect endangered species, while also making it harder for animals to make it onto that growing list.

Environment Minister Rod Phillips announced the creation of Canada’s first independent Crown agency on Thursday to make “informed, unbiased and expert decisions” on how to use the funds to protect and recover populations of species at risk.

The agency will be called the “Species at Risk Conservation Trust” and it will collect regulatory charges that applicant can pay instead of completing “some of the more onerous and lengthy requirements of a permit” needed to build in or near an endangered species habitat, Phillips said.

“But let me be clear: applicants would still be required to take the necessary steps to minimize adverse effects,” he said. “This payment is not, by any means, an opportunity for businesses to walk away. It is an opportunity for an increased efficiency and a more strategic focus on how we preserve species and their habitats.”

It was not clear why a business would pay the charge if it still had to do everything it would otherwise have to do to be mindful of species at risk. MORE

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