The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources is currently reviewing how the Province’s Crown Lands should be managed for renewable energy development including wind, solar and hydro.
Last week we submitted comments, with Ontario Nature, on the Government’s proposed new policies.
Clear direction is certainly needed when it comes to how Crown land – which represents 87% of the province’s total area – will be used to advance responsible renewable energy development. As the province makes that all-important shift to renewable forms of energy production, it needs to consider the following principles:
1. Ontario’s responsibility to protect biodiversity. We all know how critical it is that we address the growing climate crisis. At the same time, this shouldn’t come at the expense of wildlife populations, especially species at risk. Maintaining functioning, interconnected ecosystems is essential for mitigating the effects of climate change on Ontario’s wild species.
2. The need to protect Important Bird Areas and other migratory corridors for birds and bats. IBAs represent the most vital places on earth for birds, yet poorly placed wind projects, for example, can harm bird populations already in decline. The European Union strictly regulates most IBAs as so-called Special Protected Areas – in Ontario, IBAs on Crown land should be off-limits for development.
3. The importance of respecting local community planning. Any policy must ensure that decisions about renewable energy projects are undertaken in consideration of local community planning, regionally-based planning, and with the informed consent of First Nations.