Nature Canada Nature Canada Nature Canada Nature Canada Nature Canada Nature Canada Nature Canada Nature Canada Nature Canada Nature Canada
Feds reject Emergency Order for Orcas
News

Feds reject Emergency Order for Orcas

Nature Canada is disappointed that the federal government has declined to issue an emergency order under the Species at Risk Act that nature groups are saying is needed to protect the endangered Southern Resident Orcas of  British Columbia’s Salish Sea. A November 1, 2018 order-in-council indicates that the government has already taken measures to assist recovery of these Orcas (e.g., monitoring ship noise, imposing a 200-metre buffer to keep marine vessels away from Orcas). This is certainly true; the problem is that they are not in themselves adequate to save these whales. Nature Canada continues to believe that an emergency order is the most efficient way to coordinate and direct the work of federal departments such as Fisheries and Oceans, Transport Canada, Parks Canada, and Environment and Climate Change Canada that are working on saving the Orcas from extirpation.


Some key actions that must be taken to protect critical habitat in the Salish Sea include:

  • Restricting Chinook salmon fisheries in areas where these Orcas feed, and closing Chinook fishing on the Fraser River;
  • Enforcing the 200-meter buffer between marine vessels and Orcas and implementing better rules for whale-watching boats
  • Imposing a 10 knot speed limit on marine vessels and slowing down BC Ferries;
  • Reducing noise and disturbance for commercial vessels travelling in or near Orca foraging areas; and
  • Establishing the Southern Strait of Georgia National Marine Conservation Area.

Lets keep up the pressure: sign our petition and save the Southern Resident Orcas.


For more details on the work that Nature Canada is doing, please consult the following:

Nature Canada to Intervene in NEB Reconsideration of Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion
News

Nature Canada to Intervene in NEB Reconsideration of Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion

Nature Canada and BC Nature are intervening on the National Energy Board’s reconsideration of the TMX Expansion to ensure a proper assessment of oil tanker impacts from the Trans Mountain Expansion Project – one which considers risk to marine bird species. The Trans Mountain project would increase Edmonton to Vancouver pipeline capacity from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels per day, and result in oil tanks moving almost daily through the Salish Sea past critical Important Bird Areas such as Boundary Bay. Increasing oil tanker traffic with Trans Mountain bitumen in the Salish Sea, with its powerful winter storms and narrow curving channels, will increase the risk of a catastrophic oil spill. For the intervention, Nature Canada and BC Nature are represented by the Pacific Centre for Environmental Law and Litigation, a non-profit public interest environmental law organization. Pacific CELL is unique insofar as its mission is to be a vehicle for providing cutting-edge experiential opportunities for junior lawyers and law students to develop litigation skills; it is the environmental law equivalent of a teaching hospital. In August 2018, the Federal Court of Appeal (FCA) quashed the federal government’s approval of the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project, saying the NEB’s review of the project failed to consider the impacts of an increase in oil tanker traffic in the Salish Sea on the Southern Resident Orcas and that the government did not engage in sufficient consultation with Indigenous peoples impacted by the project. The FCA directed the NEB to reconsider Kinder Morgan’s application for a Certification of Public Convenience and Necessity. Subsequently, the NEB has sought comments on the whether project-related marine shipping should be assessed in conjunction with the pipeline expansion. Nature Canada and BC Nature, represented by Pacific CELL, filed their response to the NEB’s request for comments about the reconsideration process. The submission urged the NEB to conduct an assessment or project-related shipping that would properly consider impacts on marine birds. Nature Canada’s view is that the NEB has never adequately considered birds and key Important Bird Areas such as Boundary Bay along the tanker route in the Salish Sea. This is the same position Nature Canada and BC Nature have taken since 2015. At the initial NEB hearings, Nature Canada argued that Trans Mountain’s application for a Certification of Public Convenience and Necessary and the NEB’s subsequent environmental assessment did not adequately consider risks posed to aquatic birds in the Salish Sea by the proposed pipeline expansion. You can read more about Nature Canada’s past involvement here and here.

Want to do more to protect wildlife in the Salish Sea? Sign our petition asking Minister McKenna to protect the Southern Resident Orcas of the Salish Sea from tanker traffic via an Emergency Order under the Species at Risk Act.

NEB Will Consider Impacts of Trans Mountain Pipeline-Related Shipping on Marine Birds
News

NEB Will Consider Impacts of Trans Mountain Pipeline-Related Shipping on Marine Birds

The National Energy Board has done right in deciding to consider impacts of marine shipping on marine birds in its reconsideration of the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion. As previously announced, Nature Canada and Nature BC, represented by Pacific Center for Environmental Law and Litigation, are intervening in the NEB’s reconsideration hearings. In our latest submission to the NEB, we argued that it must consider impacts to aquatic birds. Recently, the NEB issued a series of decisions regarding the hearing process for the Trans Mountain Pipeline reconsideration. The NEB’s decision related to (1) marine birds; (2) cross-examination; (3) “project” boundaries; and (4) broader consideration of mitigation measures.

Consideration of Impact on Marine Birds

In its recent decision, the NEB decided to consider impacts of project-related shipping and potential spills on marine birds, and specifically asked Trans Mountain and various government authorities to provide evidence related to these impacts. This is a win for marine birds and for Nature Canada, who has long-held that the NEB has never adequately considered birds and key Important Bird Areas such as Boundary Bay along the tanker route in the Salish Sea.

Procedure for NEB Hearing: Cross Examination

The NEB said that the hearing process will follow the same model as the original hearing. The NEB will accept written evidence from parties and interveners and oral evidence connected to Indigenous knowledge. Oral final arguments may be heard in January if the NEB considers it necessary and there is time.

Definition of “Project” Boundaries

The NEB defined the spatial limit of Project-related marine shipping for which they will consider potential impacts: the distance between the Westridge Marine Terminal in Burrard Inlet and the 12-nautical mile boundary of Canada's territorial sea. There is still some uncertainty on whether the NEB will consider the environmental impacts of an oil spill that occurs outside the territorial sea even if the effects of the spill travel into Canadian waters.

NEB May Consider Broad Mitigation Measures

The NEB said that its consideration will “include” the matters for which it had originally found significant adverse environmental effects. This means that the NEB may not limit itself to those matters and may consider wider impacts of project-related shipping and oil spills.

Support our written legal submission to the National Energy Board hearings today! Be a voice for nature that cannot speak for itself!

Federal Government Fails Endangered Orcas
Photo by Nicole Peshy, an Orca hunting a Sea Lion.
News

Federal Government Fails Endangered Orcas

Threats to the endangered Southern Resident Orcas associated with marine vessels are set to increase with the proposed expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline. The Ministers of Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada have an opportunity to protect the Southern Resident Orca population from such threats by declaring an Emergency Order under the Species at Risk Act.

The Audit on Marine Mammals

Julie Gelfand, the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development to the Parliament of Canada conducted an audit to determine whether Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), Environment and Climate Change Canada, Parks Canada and Transport Canada adequately protected marine mammals in waters under the jurisdiction of the federal government from threats posed by marine vessels and commercial fishing during the period of 1 January 2012 and 1 June 2018. The Commissioner’s report was released October 2, 2018 and is available here: Report 2 – Protecting Marine Mammals. To summarize her official report, the Commissioner found that relevant federal authorities had not fully applied existing policies and tools to manage threats to marine mammals that stem from commercial fishing and marine vessels. Threats from commercial fishing include entanglements, bycatch, depletion of food sources such as salmon, noise and disturbance, oil spills and collisions with marine vessels. Risks posed by underwater noise and disturbance from marine vessels, collisions and oil spills could impede the recovery or speed the decline of marine mammal populations.

Species at Risk Management

The Commissioner also found that for 11 out of 14 marine mammal species listed as endangered or threatened under the Species at Risk Act, DFO could not demonstrate that it had implemented management measures to reduce threats from commercial fishing and marine vessels. Thus, the Commissioner found that management tools have not been used to protect marine mammals until the situation became severe.

Southern Resident Orcas

The plight of British Columbia’s Southern Resident Orcas demonstrate the impact of delaying management measures. While the Southern Resident Orca was listed as endangered in 2003, an Action Plan was not finalized until 2017. The Commissioner’s report found that DFO only began to implement management measures to address threats to the Southern Resident Orcas in 2017 and 2018. The Southern Resident Orcas are currently experiencing fatalities due to strikes with marine vessels and stress from noise and disturbance caused by marine shipping vessels. Both of these threats would intensify with increased marine shipping traffic associated with the proposed Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion.

To read recent coverage of this topic, consult the following

Nature Canada pleased that ecological integrity remains top priority for National Parks
News

Nature Canada pleased that ecological integrity remains top priority for National Parks

[caption id="attachment_36177" align="alignleft" width="181"] Stephen Hazell, Director of Conservation and General Counsel[/caption] After an icy April in Ottawa, the sun shone bright on Major Hill Park on May 7, 2018 as Environment and Climate Change MInister Catherine McKenna announced her formal response to the Let’s Talk Parks consultation. McKenna noted that she has heard loud and clear from the 37,000 Canadians—including many Nature Canada supporters--who participated in the consultation. She put forward three priorities for Parks Canada arising from Let’s Talk Parks:

  1. Protect and restore our national parks and historic sites through focused investments, working with indigenous peoples and provinces and territories to ensure the ecological integrity is the first priority in decision making
  2. Enable people to further discover and connect with our parks and heritage through innovative ideas that help share these special places with Canadians.
  3. Put in place measures that sustain for generations to come the incredible value both economic and ecological that our parks and historic sites provide for communities. The value they bring to fighting climate change, protecting wild life, including species at risk and shaping our Canadian identity and the great economic opportunities that they bring.
[caption id="attachment_36826" align="alignright" width="281"] Aiden Mahoney. Snowshoer on Pine Tree Mountain[/caption] Nature Canada agrees with these priorities subject to the overriding imperative of ensuring that Canada’s parks are protected and sustained for future generations. However, Nature Canada is troubled by the fact that the proposed Impact Assessment Act currently being debated in Parliament will not legally require impact assessments of development projects—even construction of skiing venues for the 2026 Winter Olympics in Banff National Park!! So we are not convinced that the Parks Canada is committed to using key tools to ensure that National Parks are in fact protected. McKenna also announced that entry to National Parks will be free for children aged 17 years and under. As stewards of the future, it is important for them to have a strong appreciation of our natural world: “When you connect with parks, you understand the critical importance of protecting them.” McKenna reiterated. [caption id="attachment_36827" align="alignleft" width="300"] Adrian Suszko. The National Park.[/caption] She outlined how the historic federal investment of 1.3 billion in nature conservation, announced in Budget 2018, will enable protection of Canada's natural places and recovery and preservation of species at risk. Progress is being made toward achieving Canada’s international commitment to conserving 17 percent of land and 10 percent of ocean by 2020. However, federal and provincial governments need to develop plans to establish more protected areas within their respective jurisdictions; Nature Canada will be working with provincial and local nature groups across Canada to push governments to complete these plans and get on with identifying important sites across Canada to be protected. Funds from Budget 2018 will also make it possible to secure private land, support provincial and territorial species protection efforts, and build Indigenous capacity to conserve land and species. The federal government has made it a priority to forge new relationships with First Nations and Inuit and Metis people based on the recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnerships. Nature Canada is convinced that there is a tremendous opportunity to protect ecosystems through Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs) established and managed by Indigenous organizations. Potential IPCAs include the North French River watershed in Moose Cree traditional territory in northern Ontario, and Edehzhie in Deh Cho traditional territory in western Northwest Territories. To read more about the topic, check out Newswire CTV or Canadian Geographic's media articles. For more details on the Ministers Round table 2017, visit here. Read more about  Lets Talk Parks Canada.
Email Signup

Want more nature news?

Discover more about the nature you love.

Environmental law experts are calling for a next-generation law
News

Environmental law experts are calling for a next-generation law

[caption id="attachment_22697" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Stephen Hazell Stephen Hazell
Director of Conservation
and General Counsel[/caption] Environmental law experts were in Ottawa on Tuesday calling for a next-generation law to assess the sustainability of proposed pipelines, hydroelectric projects and industrial facilities. An independent panel appointed by the federal government is reporting to Catherine McKenna, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change on March 31st on its proposals for an environmental assessment law after spending several months hearing from Canadians across the country. The environmental law experts (including Stephen Hazell from Nature Canada) are saying that a next-generation assessment law must:

  1. Account for the economic, ecological, and social aspects of sustainability;
  2. Respect Indigenous authority and governance;
  3. Connect assessment, decision-making, and action by different levels of government;
  4. Provide for full public participation, transparency, accountability, and rights to challenge decisions in court;
  5. Address the causes and effects of climate change;
  6. Include strategic and regional assessment as fundamental components;
  7. Require appropriate assessment of the thousands of smaller projects currently not being studied; and
  8. Promote evidence-based decision-making.
Below is a video of their March 21st media conference:
Email Signup

Want more nature news?

Join our 50,000 nature lovers raising their voices for nature!

Congratulations to First Ministers on Approval of Pan-Canadian Climate Framework
News

Congratulations to First Ministers on Approval of Pan-Canadian Climate Framework

[caption id="attachment_22697" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Stephen Hazell Stephen Hazell
Director of Conservation
and General Counsel[/caption] Congratulations to Prime Minister Trudeau and provincial and territorial premiers who approved the historic Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change on December 9. The Framework lays out a plan allowing Canada to do its part in addressing the looming global climate catastrophe. The Framework will be very good for nature conservation, assuming it gets implemented. Think of the Pan-Canadian Framework as the end of the beginning, certainly not the end, nor even the beginning of the end, to paraphrase Churchill. Establishing a national approach to carbon pricing in the Framework was an especially hard-fought victory; kudos to the Prime Minister and Catherine McKenna, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, for getting Canada going as a nation on pricing carbon emissions. The Framework recognizes that living natural infrastructure such as restoring or building wetlands and urban forests can build the resilience of communities and ecosystems to cope with climate-related hazards such as flooding and wildfires. Investing in natural adaptation solutions can reduce disaster risks but also benefit biodiversity and provide new opportunities for Canadians to experience nature. The Framework also recognizes that protecting and restoring natural areas, such by creating new National Parks, National Wildlife Areas, provincial parks or indigenous protected areas, can also benefit biodiversity and maintain or enhance carbon storage. What are some next specific steps the federal government could take to deliver the Pan-Canadian Framework while advancing nature conservation? Here are a few key Green Budget Coalition recommendations for the 2017 budget:

  • Allocate 30 per cent of Green Infrastructure funding for natural infrastructure investments
  • Invest $145 million in 2017-18 and $95 million subsequently to establish new protected areas to meet Canada’s international commitments on biodiversity and climate change
  • Phase out fossil fuel subsidies.
Email Signup

Want more nature news?

Discover more about the nature you love.

Amendments to the Rouge National Urban Park Act – Huge Step Forward
News

Amendments to the Rouge National Urban Park Act – Huge Step Forward

[caption id="attachment_22697" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Stephen Hazell Stephen Hazell
Director of Conservation
and General Counsel[/caption] Rouge Park located in the Eastern Greater Toronto Area which houses much of the lower Rouge River watershed – one of the last flowing rivers into Western Lake Ontario – was scheduled to become part of Canada’s first National Urban Park last year. However, the initiative was held up because of inadequate environmental protections. Today, amendments to the Rouge National Urban Park Act by federal Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna have been tabled to address key conservation oversights in the original 2015 version of the Act, namely making the maintenance or restoration of ecological integrity the top priority in the park’s management. Rouge National Urban Park protects one of Canada’s most biodiverse ecozones – home to a number of rare and at-risk species, and unique ecosystems that are not adequately captured in the country’s protected areas network. The park also falls on the eastern edge of one of Canada’s largest metropolitan areas, the Greater Toronto Area, making it an important and accessible area for millions of urban Canadians to connect with nature. Nature Canada’s national NatureHood program speaks to the same objective, citing the value of urban protected areas in addressing so-called “nature deficit disorder”. [caption id="attachment_28042" align="alignright" width="300"]Little Rouge Creek in Rouge Park Little Rouge Creek in Rouge Park. Photo by Stefan Ogrisek (CC BY 2.0)[/caption] The amendments introduced in today’s Bill improve the ecological protections for Rouge National Urban Park and underscore the importance of landscape connectivity in the region. They ensure that park management decisions necessarily protect natural resources and natural processes, giving nature the best chance to flourish. “The Rouge National Urban Park represents a huge conservation achievement in one of Canada’s most heavily populated and developed regions,” says Alex MacDonald, Nature Canada’s Senior Conservation Manager. “With today’s amendments we’re confident that Parks Canada’s management decisions for the area will enhance nature and natural processes over time – a key proviso given the unique setting for this park.” he adds. Nature Canada looks forward to reviewing future management plans for the site to see how enhanced landscape connectivity and the maintenance and restoration of ecological integrity are taken into consideration. Nature Canada has also been calling for greater protection of this site – along with 6 other proposed protected areas. To read more about this critically important site and others - visit here.

Email Signup

Want more nature news?

Subscribe to Nature Canada's online community!

Trans Mountain Hearings Draw to a Close
News

Trans Mountain Hearings Draw to a Close

[caption id="attachment_23643" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Stephen Hazell Stephen Hazell
Director of Conservation
and General Counsel[/caption] Last week, the highly unsatisfactory National Energy Board (NEB) hearings on the Trans Mountain Project ended with a whimper in Calgary. Unsatisfactory because Nature Canada/BC Nature had one hand tied behind our back given the NEB’s unprecedented decision to eliminate oral cross-examination from the hearings. To no avail, our Environmental Law Centre legal team objected to the NEB’s decision on grounds that it compromises the NEB’s ability to properly assess the evidence and reach sound legal conclusions. The $5.5 billion Trans Mountain project would increase Edmonton to Vancouver pipeline capacity from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels per day, and result in oil tankers moving almost daily through the Salish Sea past critical Important Bird Areas such as Boundary Bay. Image of a pipelineNature Canada/BC Nature presented 86 pages of written evidence from our three scientific experts, not to mention 31 pages of written argument summarizing our findings on the impacts of an oil tanker spills on the birds and other wildlife of the Salish Sea and criticizing Kinder-Morgan’s environmental impact statement. Nature Canada welcomed with reservations the interim principles for pipeline hearings announced by Nature Resources Minister Jim Carr and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna on January 27, 2016. These principles include undertaking deeper consultations with indigenous peoples, assessing upstream greenhouse gas emissions, engaging communities through a Ministerial representative, and extending the time frames for government decisions on the Trans Mountain project. The Ministers repeatedly emphasized the importance of evidence-based decision making in the pipeline review process, but failed to reinstate the rights of intervenors to cross-examine witnesses. In Nature Canada’s view, too many questions about the Trans Mountain Project remain unanswered and thus the NEB simply can’t properly complete the environmental assessment that the law requires. The NEB has stated that it would be presenting its report and recommendations on the Trans Mountain Project to the federal Cabinet by May 20; Cabinet will then make the decision whether or not the Project has authority to proceed. But don’t expect construction of the pipeline to start any time soon, even if it is approved. Do expect lawsuits from any number of intervenors ranging from municipalities in the Vancouver area, indigenous communities and nature groups.

Email Signup

Want more nature news?

Subscribe to Nature Canada's online community!

Strengthen the Rouge Park Law
News

Strengthen the Rouge Park Law

[caption id="attachment_16447" align="alignleft" width="150"]Stephen Hazell Stephen Hazell
Director of Conservation
and General Counsel[/caption] The House of Commons gets back to work on January 25, so what should be on its legislative agenda to protect nature?  Many laws need to be changed to build a framework for an ecologically sustainable Canada. But here is an easy one for the new Liberal government and the House of Commons: Amend the Rouge National Park law to establish the primacy of ecological integrity in park management and expand the park to include adjacent public lands currently under federal jurisdiction. [caption id="attachment_24774" align="alignright" width="225"]Rouge Park by Jamie Rouge Park by Jamie[/caption] Prime Minister Trudeau has already directed Environment and Climate Change Minister McKenna in her mandate letter to “work with the Ontario government to enhance the country’s first National Urban Park,” in part through “improved legislation to protect this important ecosystem and guide how the park will be managed.” Nature Canada and many other nature groups appreciated and supported the government’s election commitments to better protect National Parks and establish new National Wildlife Areas. Nature Canada, Ontario Nature and Environmental Defence  jointly wrote to the Minister in late 2015 requesting that needed amendments be introduced into the House of Commons early in the legislative session. What a gift to Canadians in the GTA to have a real national park in their backyard stretching from the Oak Ridges Moraine to Lake Ontario! Email Signup

Want to Help?

Canada’s wilderness is the world’s envy. It’s our duty to keep our true north strong and green.

Donate