Canada: Ontario Resurrects Proposed Great Lakes Protection Act As Part Of Larger Great Lakes Strategy

On February 25, 2013, Ontario's Minister of the Environment, Jim Bradley, re-introduced the Great Lakes Protection Act, the government's first major step in implementing its Great Lakes Strategy released in December 2012. Given the central role that the Great Lakes play in the lives of the majority of Ontarians, it is expected that the Great Lakes Strategy and proposed Act will play a significant role in the province's regulatory framework.

Background: Ontario's Great Lakes Strategy (December 2012)

Amidst growing concerns about the effects of population growth, new chemicals of concern, invasive species, climate change, and other new challenges facing Ontario's critically-important Great Lakes, the Government of Ontario began pursuing a "Great Lakes Strategy" in 2009 with the release of a discussion paper entitled "Healthy Lakes, Strong Ontario." In June 2012, Ontario issued a draft version of the Great Lakes Strategy and engaged scientific experts and community stakeholders – including First Nations and Métis communities – in a series of public consultations. This process culminated in the Ontario Great Lakes Strategy report (the GLS Report), released in December 2012.

In addition to Lakes Superior, Huron, Erie and Ontario, and their connecting rivers, the GLS Report identifies Lake Simcoe, the St. Lawrence River and the Ottawa River as water bodies of interest.  The primary objective articulated by the GLS Report is to ensure that the Great Lakes remain "drinkable, swimmable and fishable."  To accomplish this objective, the GLS Report identifies six goals, each having specific and explicit performance measures:

1. Engaging and Empowering Communities (measured by community projects aimed at increasing public awareness and engagement on Great Lakes issues)

2. Protecting Water for Human and Ecological Health (measured by initiatives to improve drinking water standards, reducing levels of pollutants in the Great Lakes, measuring phosphorus trends and reducing the frequency and severity of algal blooms)

3. Improving Wetlands, Beaches and Coastal Areas (focusing on cleaning up Great Lakes Areas of Concern)

4. Protecting Habitats and Species (focusing on identifying, protecting, conserving and restoring priority habitats, including wetlands, and reducing the impact of invasive species)

5. Enhancing Understanding and Adaptation (by allowing greater access to Great Lakes monitoring results and scientific information)

6. Ensuring Environmentally Sustainable Economic Opportunities and Innovation (by fostering water technology innovation)

Additionally, the GLS Report provides "guiding principles" that underlie Great Lakes protection efforts. These principles are: the Ecosystem Approach (recognizing the interdependence of land, air, water, and living organisms, and the intrinsic value of the Great Lakes); the Precautionary Approach (caution will be exercised even in the face of scientific uncertainty); Accountability; Adaptive Management (continuous and frequent policy reassessment); Collaboration and Engagement; and the Recognition of First Nations and Métis Communities.

The GLS Report makes a strong economic argument in favour of Great Lakes protection. The GLS Report states that the Great Lakes fishing industry contributed about $234 million to Ontario's economy in 2011, over 95% of agricultural land is in Great Lakes watersheds, and Great Lakes waters help generate 80% of the province's electricity (through hydro-electricity generation and the provision of cooling water for power plants). The GLS report also cites a 2010 economic study that found that investments in initiatives aimed at preventing high levels of nutrients and invasive species from entering the lakes and protecting coastal waters yielded significant economic returns.

Proposed Great Lakes Protection Act

The proposed Great Lakes Protection Act (GLPA) was first introduced by the Ontario Government on June 6, 2012.  The GLPA was carried at first reading, but died on the order paper when the Legislature was prorogued on October 15, 2012. The GLPA was re-introduced on February 25, 2013.

Key highlights of the proposed GLPA include:

  • Establishing the Great Lakes Guardians' Council, comprised of other Ministers whose portfolios touch upon the Great Lakes, municipal representatives, First Nations and Métis representatives, and representatives from the scientific community. The Council's mandate is to provide a forum to identify action priorities, funding measures, and information sharing;
  • Requiring the Minister of the Environment to maintain the GLS and review it every six years;
  • Empowering the Minister of the Environment to direct public bodies, including municipalities, local boards, conservation authorities, and government ministries, to establish qualitative or quantitative "targets" and to develop proposals for geographically-focused initiatives (GFIs);
  • Establishing a mandatory consultation procedure for proposals for GFIs;
  • Requiring decisions made under the Planning Act or the Condominium Act, 1998 to conform with "designated policies" established in a GFI, which would prevail in the face of a conflict;
  • Prohibiting municipalities and municipal planning authorities from starting public works or other undertakings, or passing by-laws that conflict with a designated policy set out in a GFI; and,
  • Creating the authority to issue regulations regulating or prohibiting activities that may adversely affect the Great Lakes.

Discussion

The speedy re-introduction of the GLPA may suggest that the Ontario Government, under newly chosen Premier Wynne, is assigning some priority to the Great Lakes Strategy.

The proposed GLPA confers broad discretionary power upon the Minister of the Environment to develop GFIs. Although what may constitute a GFI is not entirely clear, Ontario businesses, developers, municipalities, and even homeowners should not be surprised to encounter new, region-specific restrictions and obligations enacted under the GLPA if it is passed. This is particularly true given that decisions under the Planning Act and the Condominium Act, 1998, will have to conform with policies established in GFIs.

Jurisdictional limitations aside, far too little time is spent in the GLS and GLPA on cross-border issues with individual American states that also border the Great Lakes. Without greater and more concerted cross-border efforts, initiatives developed under the GLS and GLPA may not be effective.

As it stands, the GLPA has only been introduced in the Legislature and has received its first reading. Whether it is enacted into law remains to be seen.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Willms & Shier Environmental Lawyers LLP
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Willms & Shier Environmental Lawyers LLP
Related Articles
 
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions