The trail of mindless destruction of public safeguards continues.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford applauds Finance Minister Vic Fideli during the presentation of the 2019 Ontario Budget at Queens Park in Toronto on April 11, 2019. Photo by Christopher Katsarov
Premier Doug Ford’s government is facing vehement opposition from municipalities across Ontario for proposing to weaken legislation protecting endangered species in order to allow mass development to occur in critical habitat for wildlife.
The changes were proposed in a housing bill, Bill 108, that proposes amendments to 15 laws, including 20-pages of sweeping changes to existing protections for endangered wildlife. These protections are spelled out under Schedule 5 of the legislation.
The proposed changes include the creation of a new fund that would allow developers to pay the equivalent of a tax, rather than taking steps to protect and restore habitat of species at risk. The government has also proposed to change the makeup of a scientific committee that reviews the status of species at risk, in order to allow people with no scientific expertise to join and provide scientific advice.
The Ontario municipalities of York, Muskoka Lakes, Oakville, Aurora, Archipelago and Lennox-Addington have all voiced their opposition to Bill 108 and passed motions or resolutions to that effect.
Aurora Mayor Tom Mrakas says his municipality was neither consulted nor informed that these changes were coming. He worries that the bill will eliminate the ability of local councils to make decisions about how their natural and wildlife areas are managed.
“At the end of the day, Aurora has a lot of green space in southern parts. We have protected habitats in the Oak Ridges Moraine and there are a lot of species in the area,” he said in a phone call. “We need to ensure that we protect those species from harmful development that will take over the area.”
Oakville council also opposes Ontario’s proposed changes to Endangered Species Act. The city council passed a resolution Monday that urged the province to stop the advancement of Bill 108 and give municipalities more time to review the omnibus bill, comment on and consult with the government on changes to regulations. MORE