Species at Risk legislation exists at the federal and provincial
levels but the practical impact of the legislation in Ontario is
only starting. The impact will be felt especially by the
development industry and by those engaged in infrastructure
projects. Ontario appears to be "out in front", and
therefore other Provinces may look to the pros and cons of the
Ontario approach in framing future initiatives.
Endangered species are studied and classified in one of four
categories: Endangered, Threatened, Special Concern, Extirpated.
Endangered and Threatened Species receive species protection and
general habitat protection (subject to transition rules).
Additionally, the Minister of the Environment is to ensure that a
recovery strategy is prepared for each endangered or threatened
species. Implementation of a recovery strategy may include a
species-specific habitat regulation, with an extended habitat
definition. Recovery strategies will also be issued for extirpated
species if feasible, and management plans will be issued for
species of special concern.
Activities which harm protected species, or harm or destroy
protected habitat are prohibited, but may be authorized by permit.
These permits will involve engagement in recovery and
rehabilitation of the protected species.
Species-specific habitat protection is still a work in progress.
Currently there are 145 species listed as threatened or endangered
in Ontario (mammals, reptiles, amphibia, birds, plants, insects,
fish and molluscs), but as of October 2012 only 23 of these have
species-specific habitat protection.
The practical application of this legislation is still evolving.
Compensation funding and other mitigation measures are currently
being assessed so that development continues in keeping with the
legislative requirements. Compensation funding may include
obtaining funds from developers to promote stewardship on other
lands not being developed.
The Imperial Oil refinery pled guilty to one offence for discharging a contaminant, coker stabilizer, thermocracked gas, into the natural environment causing an adverse effect and was fined $650,000...
Ontario's Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change continues to roll out its Climate Change Action Plan with its proposed GHG guide for projects that are subject to the province's Environmental Assessment Act.
In June, 2016, Justice Faieta of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice awarded damages of $57,712.31 plus interest against legal counsel who failed to file a claim within the required limitation period.
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