To the Editors,
Bill 66, currently before the Legislature, threatens to unravel a wide range of environmental protections in Ontario’s land use planning rules. Last week, North Bay City Council took an action that highlights those concerns. Council passed a motion requesting the Province to exclude all land, streams, and lakes within the City of North Bay’s urban settlement area from The Endangered Species Act. Apparently, the North Bay Council sees itself as a better arbiter of what species should be driven to extinction in Ontario than the best scientists working within the Province’s listing process under The Endangered Species Act.
Bill 66 would amend the Planning Act to empower municipal councils to pass open-for-business planning by-laws that would enable those councils to permit development and ignore a range of provincial legislation that was passed to protect specific environmental features and values. The Greenbelt Act, The Lake Simcoe Protection Act, The Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act, and The Clean Water Act are all examples of legislation that was passed to improve land use planning, but could be overridden by the proposed Bill 66 changes. (It must be noted for the attention of North Bay Council that The Endangered Species Act is specifically not listed in Bill 66.)