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Act Proposal Notice:   EBR Registry Number:   012-3523
Title:
Bill 66: Proposed Great Lakes Protection Act
 
Ministry:
Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change
Date Proposal loaded to the Registry:
February 18, 2015
 
 
Keyword(s):   Water
The comment period for this proposal is now over.
 
Description of Act:

The ministry is introducing a strengthened proposed Great Lakes Protection Act, 2015.

The proposed GLPA has been strengthened to reflect comments and new priorities:

  • Ensure action to address stressors and issues like climate change, wetland protection, watershed protection, and nutrient and toxics reduction.
  • Ensure the establishment and maintenance of monitoring and reporting programs to improve understanding and management of the Great Lakes.
  • Increase reporting, transparency and accountability by requiring progress reports be tabled every three years in the Legislature and include reporting on performance measures, targets and ecological conditions within the Great Lakes basin.
  • Enable Great Lakes targets, including setting a target within two years to support the reduction of algal blooms.
  • Respond to comments on geographically focused initiatives to enable a collaborative response to pressing issues (e.g. harmful algal blooms) and that initiatives consider costs, benefits and existing policies, legislation and strategies.
  • Require that if traditional ecological knowledge is offered by First Nations, it be considered in the decision-making process.

In strengthening the proposed Act, the Ministry considered:

  • all comments received on the previous proposed Great Lakes Protection Act, 2012 proposal,
  • all comments received on the proposed Great Lakes Protection Act, 2013,
  • discussions with First Nations and Métis communities, municipalities, industries, environmental experts and other groups; and
  • opportunities for input through the previous legislative process.

The proposed Act is enabling and would give 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:

  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 conservation authorities, environmental organizations, the scientific community, industrial, agricultural, recreational and tourism sectors and others, to identify Great Lakes priorities for action, propose projects, discuss 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 every three years to the legislature. Ontario’s Great Lakes Strategy sets out environmental conditions, goals, a summary of actions taken, a description of new or emerging threats and priorities for future action on the Great Lakes. Also require that the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change ensure that monitoring and reporting programs are established or maintained, and publicly report on these programs or actions.
  3. Enable the setting of Great Lakes targets, including a commitment to set a target within two years to support the reduction of algal blooms. Providing authority to the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry to establish a target in respect of preventing the net loss of wetlands. These targets could be accompanied with a plan that would help achieve the purposes of the proposed Act and would support implementation of Ontario’s Great Lakes Strategy.
  4. Following local discussion and building upon existing work, enable targeted action on priority areas through geographically-focused initiatives. These initiatives could address priority issues such as harmful algae, protection of important Great Lakes habitat, or coordination of efforts to improve beaches. Initiatives could build on existing plans and work, potentially 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, and how to address priority issues. These initiatives would be developed through a collaborative process and consultation would be required.
  5. 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 and if it is provided decision makers would have to consider it to help inform the best decision making. The proposed Act encourages sharing information to help determine the best way to protect the ecology of the Great Lakes.

Purpose of Act:

The purposes of the proposed Great Lakes Protection Act, 2015, 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 water quality, hydrological function and the ecological health of the Great Lakes- St. Lawrence River Basin, including through the elimination or reduction of harmful pollutants.
  • To protect and restore watersheds, 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 improve the capacity of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin to respond to the impacts and causes of climate change.
  • To improve understanding and management of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin by advancing science and promoting the consideration of traditional ecological knowledge relating to existing and emerging stressors and by establishing and maintaining monitoring and reporting programs or actions with respect to the environmental conditions of the 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 18, 2015. Comments were to be received by April 19, 2015.

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 and Climate Change received input on the proposed legislation through: engagement on the proposed Great Lakes Protection Act, 2012, introduced in June 2012; a number of 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 end-date of that Registry posting. Public consultation was held under EBR Registry # 011-6461

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 proposed Great Lakes Protection Act, 2013 (Bill 6), was also posted on the Environmental Registry for a 60 day public comment period, from February 25, 2013 to April 26, 2013. The province also heard from a number of stakeholders through Standing Committee on Bill 6, including hearings held on November 20, 2013 on the Bill.

The province also received comments on Ontario’s draft Great Lakes Strategy under Environmental Registry Notice 011-6461 (finalized in December 2012)

As the proposed Act proceeds through the legislative process, the Ministry will consider further input received through ongoing Great Lakes dialogues with First Nations and Métis communities, municipalities, industries, environmental experts and other groups. Please visit the Legislative Assembly of Ontario website for details (see link under Additional Information).

 
Contact:

Laura Blease
Senior Policy Advisor
Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change
Integrated Environmental Policy Division
Land and Water Policy Branch
135 St. Clair Avenue West
Floor 6
Toronto Ontario
M4V 1P5
Phone: (416) 325-8275
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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