As a result of consultation on the proposal, we received a total of 14,964 comments: 1,943 were received through the Environmental Registry, 13,011 were received through email and 10 comments were received through the mail.
To inform the 10th Year Review of Ontario’s Endangered Species Act (ESA), we solicited comments and suggestions about ways to achieve positive outcomes for species at risk as well as streamline approvals and provide clarity to the process.
We were particularly interested in hearing ideas around four areas of focus, as outlined in the Discussion Paper:
• landscape approaches
• listing process and protections for species at risk
• species recovery policies and habitat regulations
• authorization processes
We received feedback through a 45-day Environmental Registry posting, meetings with stakeholders, municipal associations, and Indigenous peoples. The feedback received was largely divergent. Generally, respondents supported strong protections for species at risk and their habitat, but found the current approvals process to be long, duplicative and unpredictable.
Generally, respondents supported:
• improving the implementation of the current legislation, including by improved enforcement
• stringent protections for species at risk and their habitat and clear requirements and conditions for authorizations
• maintaining a science-based process for adding species to the Species at Risk in Ontario list
• allowing the Minister the ability to seek re-assessment of species’ classifications by the Committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario
• greater Indigenous representation on the Committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario and consideration of Traditional Ecological Knowledge
• increased discretion, transparency and certainty, transparency about when and where protections for species at risk and/or their habitat will apply
• greater consideration of community knowledge and on-the-ground realities
• reducing burden, shortening timelines, and increasing clarity for obtaining approvals under the ESA, including by establishing new tools such as the ability to make a payment in-lieu of some requirements
• enabling a long-term solution to addressing forestry activities conducted under the Crown Forest Sustainability Act, 1994
• enabling positive outcomes for species at risk
• enhancing stakeholder and Indigenous community engagement in recovery planning
Concerns were expressed regarding:
• any changes that would lower protections to species at risk and their habitat
• any re-assessment of species’ classifications by the Committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario that would lower protections
• any negative impacts to species if it takes too long to develop the Government Response Statement or complete a review of progress towards the protection and recovery of the species
• any landscape approaches that may be interpreted too broadly, depending on the circumstance and the species impacted
• any changes that reduce requirements and conditions of authorizations
• any payment-in-lieu approach that is not stringent and would result in reduced outcomes for species at risk
• ensuring appropriate transparency, accountability and effectiveness monitoring for any payment-in-lieu approach
• allowing activities that will have an adverse impact to species at risk to proceed under exemption regulations
As a result of the review and public consultation, we are proposing amendments to the Endangered Species Act, 2007. For more information about the proposed amendments, and to provide a comment, please search for Environmental Registry #013-5033.