Date published: Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Mayor Alan Spacek of Kapuskasing and President of the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM) joined forces with other municipal and trade organizations to support the provincial government’s newly proposed regulation under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for the forest sector. Spacek explained “As part of the 2012 Budget Bill, the Liberal government proposed amendments to the ESA that would allow them to implement the legislation in a more practical manner, and that would remove redundant and unnecessary process. We support this practical approach to the implementation of the ESA. It would have given the government options in terms of how it would recognize the Crown Forest Sustainability Act as equivalent to the ESA with respect to the protection of species at risk and their habitat.”
Spacek emphasized, “We need this. In an Environmental Registry posting on January 24, 2013 the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) outlined its preferred transition measures for various economic development sectors under the ESA. This proposed regulation is consistent with this ‘practical approach’ and we support it.”
He stated that “we know that Ontario is a world leader in sustainable forest management and less than 1/2 of 1% of Ontario’s forests are harvested each year. Ontario’s forest sector already provides for the needs of species at risk and their habitat – a fact that the Ministry of Natural Resources has already recognized – through the Crown Forest Sustainability Act (CFSA). By law, plans to renew the forest must be in place prior to harvest and that planned renewal must occur. The mandatory protection of species at risk and their habitat has been part of Forest Management Plans for nearly 20 years and those protections will be upheld with the acceptance of this proposed regulation. Until such time as legislative amendments can be made to the ESA, the only viable route to ensure certainty for the forest sector is for the MNR to provide a regulation under Section 55(1)(b) of the ESA” Spacek suggested.
Spacek noted “FONOM, NOMA (the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association) and the Ontario Forest Industries Association (OFIA) are all worried that the North could lose out on jobs and economic development if this regulatory process gets derailed by those who may be opposed to forestry. Ontario’s sustainable forest sector is a vital part of Ontario’s green economy. This proposed regulation provides some much needed balance to the implementation of the ESA for Ontario’s forest industry.”
Mayor Spacek concluded “We’ve heard time and again from our colleagues in the forestry sector that it employs over 200,000 hard working Ontarians in over 260 communities across the province. In addition, as the US economy recovers there will be renewed demand for wood and paper products. This will result in additional investment and job growth in Ontario.”
This EBR posting closes Monday, February 25, 2013. Spacek urges fellow municipal leaders, citizens and stakeholders to respond to the EBR with support for the government’s proposed transition measure.