This notice was updated on January 24, 2013. Further detail is available concerning this regulation proposal. It is available at http://www.mnr.gov.on.ca/groups/lr/@mnr/@species/documents/document/stdprod_102744.pdf
The Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) has heard from many sectors, organizations and individuals about challenges in implementing the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and has brought together a stakeholder working group to identify common issues and potential solutions. MNR is also seeking input from the public and other interested stakeholders on approaches to improve the implementation of the ESA. This proposal provides suggested approaches that derive from MNR’s experience on the ground and could include amendments to Ontario Regulation 242/08, under the Endangered Species Act. The following proposals would balance the protection and recovery of species at risk while either,
- helping existing or planned activities proceed without additional approvals where new species or habitat protection comes about after their approval,
- enabling a streamlined alternative to authorizing new activities that benefit species,
- enabling activities necessary for human health or safety, and/ or
- achieving administrative efficiencies.
Any proposed regulatory approaches would provide up-front conditions for individuals and businesses to follow, which would allow for more efficient and sustainable implementation of the ESA.
Transition for Activities that are Already Approved or Planned
The Ministry is proposing potential policy and regulatory approaches to streamline the implementation of the ESA through the establishment of rules in the form of a regulation . These suggested approaches derive from MNR’s experience on the ground to date. The approaches may also include registration with MNR, if one or more of the following transition situations arise:
- a new species is listed on the Species At Risk in Ontario List and it is affected by the already approved or planned activity;
- a new species is found at the site and will be affected by the already approved or planned activity; or,
- new habitat protection applies to the area where the activity will occur.
The Ministry is considering approaches, which could include regulatory amendments that consider the protection of species at risk while providing certainty to a range of sectors, including forestry, renewable energy, development, mineral exploration and aggregates. These changes would preserve socio-economic vitality relating to both existing and planned activities on the landscape. These proposals would allow existing or planned activities which have received approval under other applicable legislation to proceed subject to conditions in regulations while balancing the protection and recovery of species at risk.
Streamlined Approaches for New Activities to Benefit Species
Through experience in administering the ESA, MNR has identified certain activities that follow standard procedures, have predictable effects, and require common approaches for minimizing adverse effects and achieving benefits for species. For these types of activities, shifting from an application and review approach to an approach where individuals or businesses would follow rules aimed at benefiting species at risk established in the form of a regulation, which may include registration with MNR, provides a more efficient method for delivery of government services.
Protection or Recovery: Activities that will assist in the protection or recovery of species at risk or address broader conservation initiatives, such as the creation, restoration and management of wetland habitat, could proceed without an ESA authorization provided individuals or businesses follow rules established in regulation, which may include registration with MNR and are designed to minimize adverse effects to species at risk.
Standardized Condition Approach: For certain types of activities, where overall benefit permit conditions have been well established, activities could proceed without an ESA approval, provided that individuals or businesses follow rules established in regulation, which may include registration with MNR, that are designed to benefit the species and to draw on the experience MNR has had with standard overall benefit permit conditions.
Proposed examples of this Standardized Condition Approach would be as follows:
- Removal of 10 or fewer Butternut trees with benefits provided through additional Butternut planting;
- Repair, maintenance, or removal of built structures with benefits provided by wetland creation or habitat enhancement for Barn Swallow, and the uncapping of chimneys for Chimney Swifts;
- Repair, maintenance, or removal of water crossings or other in-water work with aquatic species protection and benefits provided through the improvement of water flow and water temperature and a reduction in sedimentation and pollution; and,
- Road improvement activities with the protection of reptiles and amphibians and benefits provided through the installation of fencing and improved passage.
Safe Harbour: The proposed amendment would provide an exemption which could include rules established in regulation, and may include registration with MNR, for persons who benefit species by creating or improving species at risk habitat on private land. In the future, they would be allowed to return the land to its previous condition, without requiring an authorization under the ESA (e.g. if a farmer provides habitat for grassland birds and later wants to use the field to grow a different crop, there would be the flexibility to do so). This is intended to encourage the creation or improvement of habitat for species at risk by private landowners without increased regulatory burden.
Human Health or Safety
Activities that are necessary to protect human health or safety (e.g. repairing structural damage to a bridge) could proceed without an ESA approval, provided persons follow rules established in regulation that would be designed to minimize adverse effects. Among the activities this proposed amendment would apply to is the maintenance of built structures, that if not maintained would pose a risk to human health or safety or would prevent delivery of essential services.
The following proposed amendments have been identified to improve efficiency in the implementation of the ESA and Ontario Regulation 242/08:
Incidental Trapping of Species at Risk: The proposed amendment would shift from an application and review approach to an approach where trappers would follow rules established in regulation for possession of species at risk that were incidentally trapped.
Possession of Species at Risk by Accredited Organizations: The proposed amendment would shift from an application and review approach to an approach where accredited individuals, businesses or organizations would follow rules established in regulation permitting possession of species at risk and species at risk specimens.
Commercial Cultivation of Vascular Plants: The proposed amendment would shift from a paper-based notification that is provided to MNR of activities related to the commercial cultivation of vascular plants to one where rules would be established in regulation to govern commercial cultivation, which may include registration with the MNR.
MNR and Modernization of Approvals
The proposed approaches to regulatory amendments described above are amongst the first in a series of proposed amendments to specific approvals issued by MNR that are being put forward for public comment. These proposals are consistent with the Modernization of Approvals policy paper (EBR Registry Number: 011-6751) that was posted by the Ministry for comment. This paper and the proposed approaches to regulatory amendments are part of MNR’s plan to modernize our business where we can, focus more closely on our core mandate, and review our programs and services to become more efficient and sustainable.