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Act Proposal Notice:   EBR Registry Number:   011-6461
Title:
Great Lakes Protection Act
 
Ministry:
Ministry of the Environment
Date Proposal loaded to the Registry:
February 25, 2013
 
 

This proposal notice updates and replaces the June 2012 notice on a proposed Great Lakes Protection Act, 2012 (EBR Registry Number 011-6461), to seek comment on a proposed Great Lakes Protection Act, 2013.

In 2011 and 2012, the Ministry of the Environment met with and heard from municipalities, First Nations and Metis communities, environmental experts and stakeholders including industry, agriculture and the tourism sector to gain the benefit of their views about the issues facing the Great Lakes.

In response to comments received, in June 2012, the province introduced a proposed Great Lakes Protection Act, 2012 (Bill 100), which did not proceed due to prorogation of the Legislature.

The government is now reintroducing the proposed Great Lakes Protection Act, 2013 (Bill 6). Minor changes were made to the proposed Great Lakes Protection Act, 2013, to align the proposed Act with Ontario’s Great Lakes Strategy, which was released in December 2012, and to correct minor legislative drafting errors. The province looks forward to working with all of its partners and those who live, work, and play in the Great Lakes as the proposed Great Lakes Protection Act, 2013 proceeds through the legislative process.

The Ministry will continue to consider all comments received on the previous Great Lakes Protection Act, 2012 proposal, alongside all comments received on the proposed Great Lakes Protection Act, 2013, as the legislative process proceeds. Potential amendments may be considered by government during the legislative process.

If you have already commented on the proposed Great Lakes Protection Act, 2012, you do not need to re-submit your comments.

 
Keyword(s):   Agriculture  |  Drinking Water  |  Fish and Wildlife  |  Land  |  Monitoring  |  Nutrient Management  |  Water  |  Land use planning  |  Conservation  |  Legislation  |  Wastewater  |  Sewage
The comment period for this proposal is now over.
 
Description of Act:

The proposed Act is enabling and would give the province new tools to take targeted action to improve water quality, and protect coastlines, beaches and wetlands, with the overall intent of helping to attain Great Lakes that are drinkable, swimmable, and fishable.

If passed, the proposed Act would provide authority to take action in a variety of ways:

  1. Establish a Great Lakes Guardians’ Council to provide a forum for Great Lakes Ministers, municipal representatives, representatives of First Nations and Métis communities, and representatives from environmental organizations, the scientific community, industrial, agricultural, recreational and tourism sectors and others, to identify Great Lakes priorities for action, propose projects, potential financial measures and partnerships, and help to facilitate information sharing and discuss matters related to setting targets, development of Initiatives and inter-jurisdictional agreements. 

  2. Require that Ontario’s Great Lakes Strategy be maintained, reviewed at least every 6 years, and reported on periodically. Ontario’s Great Lakes Strategy sets out environmental conditions, goals, a summary of actions taken, and priorities for future action on the Great Lakes. 

  3. Enable the Minister of the Environment, in consultation with other Great Lakes Ministers, to set Great Lakes targets. These targets would help achieve the purposes of the Act and would support implementation of Ontario’s Great Lakes Strategy and actions under the proposed Act. 

  4. Following local discussion, provide authority to take targeted action on priority areas through geographically-focused initiatives. These initiatives could address priority issues such as excessive algae, protection of important Great Lakes habitat, or coordination of efforts to improve beaches. Initiatives could build on existing work, combining and aligning resources and coordinating efforts from different partners in Great Lakes protection.

    The proposed Act would allow flexibility regarding what priority issues are addressed; where to target action, how to address priority issues, and who should address them. These initiatives could be developed through a collaborative process by the Government of Ontario or by another public body (such as a municipality, a conservation authority, a source protection committee, or others prescribed by regulations). Consultation would be required on both a proposal for an initiative and draft initiative. Both proposals for initiatives and the initiatives themselves would be subject to the approval of Cabinet prior to implementation.

    Initiatives would be required to contain either a legally enforceable policy (such as one that affects government permits and approvals) or a proposal for a shoreline regulation (please see #5 below), or both. The initiatives could also include policies that would be voluntary (such as programs to coordinate efforts, promote good stewardship, pilot new programs, promote best management practices, facilitate research, and encourage education and outreach). 

  5. Provide authority to make a shoreline regulation, within an area covered by a geographically-focused initiative, to regulate activities that may affect the ecological health of the Great Lakes such as disposal of invasive species or damage to sensitive shoreline areas. Any shoreline regulation contemplated under the proposed Act would be consulted on and would move forward only after careful assessment and consideration of options and impacts.

The proposed Act would clarify that nothing in the Act should be construed so as to abrogate or derogate from the protection provided for the existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada by Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. It recognises that Aboriginal communities within the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin have important connections to the Basin: First Nations maintain a spiritual and cultural relationship with water and the Basin is an historic location where Métis identity emerged in Ontario. It also recognizes that First Nations and Métis communities may contribute traditional ecological knowledge to support Great Lakes protection. The proposed Act encourages sharing information to help determine the best way to protect the ecology of the Great Lakes.

Provisions of the proposed Act would come into effect on proclamation.

Purpose of Act:

The purposes of the proposed Great Lakes Protection Act, 2013, are to protect and restore the ecological health of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin; and to create opportunities for individuals and communities to become involved in the protection and restoration of the ecological health of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin. Purposes also include: 

  • To protect human health and well being through the protection and restoration of the ecological health of the Great Lakes- St. Lawrence River Basin. 
  • To protect and restore wetlands, beaches, shorelines, and other coastal areas of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin. 
  • To protect and restore the natural habitats and biodiversity of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin. 
  • To advance science relating to existing and emerging stressors, such as climate change, that improves understanding and management of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin. 
  • To enrich the quality of life in communities in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin through support of environmentally sustainable economic opportunities and innovation through environmentally sustainable use of natural resources.

Public Consultation:

This proposal was posted for a 60 day public review and comment period starting February 25, 2013. Comments were to be received by April 26, 2013.

All comments received during the comment period are being considered as part of the decision-making process by the Ministry.

Please Note: All comments and submissions received have become part of the public record.

Other Public Consultation Opportunities:

The Minister of the Environment received input on the proposed legislation through: engagement on the proposed Great Lakes Protection Act, 2012, introduced in June 2012; a number of recent listening sessions held prior to June 2012; as well as through previous engagement on the 2009 Great Lakes discussion paper titled “Healthy Great Lakes, Strong Ontario: Talking with Ontarians About Protecting, Restoring, Using and Enjoying the Great Lakes.”

The 2012 proposal notice for a Great Lakes Protection Act was posted on June 6, 2012, with a 62-day comment period. Comments continued to be received and accepted after the August 7, 2012 date of that Environmental Registry posting.

The province also met with and heard from municipalities, First Nations and Métis communities, environmental experts and stakeholders including industry, agriculture and the tourism sector, to gain the benefit of their views about the issues facing the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin and to seek their feedback on the proposed Great Lakes Protection Act.

The province also received comments on Ontario’s draft Great Lakes Strategy (finalized in December 2012 - see link to Decision Posting on Great Lakes Strategy under Additional Information).

The proposed Great Lakes Protection Act, 2013, will be informed by the input received to date; by ongoing Great Lakes dialogues with First Nations and Métis communities, municipalities, industries, environmental experts and other groups; and by various opportunities for input throughout the legislative process. Please visit the Legislative Assembly of Ontario website for details (see link under Additional Information).

Comments may also help to inform other provincial Great Lakes protection actions, such as negotiation of a new Canada-Ontario Agreement and the implementation of Ontario’s Great Lakes Strategy.

 
Contact:

Carolyn O'Neill
Manager
Ministry of the Environment
Integrated Environmental Policy Division
Land and Water Policy Branch
Great Lakes Office
135 St. Clair Avenue West
Floor 6
Toronto Ontario
M4V 1P5
Phone: (416) 314-7833
Fax: (416) 326-0461

Additional Information:

The following government offices have additional information regarding this Proposal. To arrange a viewing of these documents please call the Ministry Contact or the Office listed below.

Land and Water Policy Branch
135 St. Clair Avenue West
Floor 6
Toronto Ontario
M4V 1P5
Phone: (416) 314-7090

The documents linked below are provided for the purposes of enhancing public consultation.
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