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reeves report: ECO urges province to create new climate action plan

SO MUCH OF THE THINKING around climate change has evolved since 2007 that Ontario’s seven-year-old climate action plan is now “irrelevant” according to Environmental Commissioner Gord Miller.

In releasing Looking for Leadership: The Costs of Climate Inaction this morning, Miller said the province has been a leader in the climate file but has not kept up with the changing social, scientific and economic dynamics of climate change since Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan was released in 2007.

In particular, Miller identified four areas where society and science have moved beyond the baseline assumptions about climate change it held seven years (Read more…)

reeves report: Ontario adds Climate Change to MOE Portfolio

IN ANNOUNCING her new cabinet last week, Premier Kathleen Wynne has charged former Transportation Minister Glen Murray with taking over Ontario’s newly revamped environment ministry.

Murray, the sitting MPP for Toronto Centre and former mayor of Winnipeg, assumed command of the environment ministry from veteran MPP Jim Bradley who is Ontario’s longest-serving environment minister after eight years on the job in two separate stints.

Wynne has also asked Murray to take on a new challenge, perhaps the most pressing issue facing the planet in the 21st century: climate change. No, Murray won’t be tasked with single-handedly solving the world’s shifting (Read more…)

reeves report: Ottawa approves $5.5 billion Northern Gateway pipeline

THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT has approved the $5.5-billion Northern Gateway pipeline project from Enbridge, to carry 525,000 barrels of crude oil each day from Bruderheim in northern Alberta to the port town of Kitimat along British Columbia’s rugged Pacific Coast.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper signalled his approval for the project late Thursday after the controversial pipeline received regulatory approval from the National Energy Board in December 2013.

Ottawa has hinged its blessing for the project on Enbridge consulting further with BC’s First Nations and their ability to meet the 209 requirements placed on it by the Joint Review Panel in December. The JRP called (Read more…)

reeves report: MNR lacks real-time data on controversial spring bear hunt

Black bear. (Flickr photo by Casey Brown)

JUST OVER HALFWAY through the reintroduced six-week spring bear hunt, which runs from May 1 to June 15, the province of Ontario has issued close to 2,300 licenses for black bears.

Unfortunately, the Ministry of Natural Resources has no idea how many of those licences will be used this spring, and how many were requested for use in the fall.

Each license entitles an Ontario resident hunter to kill one black bear in 2014, but would-be hunters are not required to specify whether they intend to tag a bear in spring or during (Read more…)

reeves report: Environmental Legislation Killed by the Ontario Election

Environment Minister Jim Bradley and Natural Resources Minister David Orazietti speak with reporters at Queen’s Park. June, 2013. (Photo by Andrew Reeves)

SO WE KEEP WAITING.

Ontario’s environmental community had reason for optimism when Kathleen Wynne assumed leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party in January 2013, knowing the new premier was more progressive than her predecessor Dalton McGuinty and perhaps more inclined to want to beef up the Liberals’ green cred.

But with an election called for June 12, hopes for sweeping new green legislation on everything from protecting the Great Lakes to improving recycling rates have been dashed. (Read more…)

reeves report: Swimming against the odds

Few of the hundreds of thousands of Chinook salmon introduced into Lake Ontario each year survive to maturity, but the Ministry of Natural Resources is still betting on them to help to improve the health of the Great Lakes.

Finance Minister Charles Sousa with MNR staff and representatives from the Port Credit Salmon and Trout Association.

THERE WAS A GENERAL SENSE of anticipation when the Ministry of Natural Resources truck backed in next to the Snug Harbour marina in Port Credit in Mississauga, Ontario. Everyone there at the water’s edge knew how important the truck’s cargo was to the overall health (Read more…)

reeves report: Rebuilding ‘science team’ at ELA a tough task

Researchers at the Experimental Lakes Area in northern Ontario.

When Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced on May 17, 2012 that funding for the Experimental Lakes Area would no longer be renewed by the federal government, scientists and environmentalists saw this for what it was—another salvo in Harper’s ever-expanding conflict with science and the products of that research.

Long before the ELA—a vast, 58-lake living freshwater laboratory near the Manitoba-Ontario border—was saved by an 11th hour deal between Ottawa, two provincial governments and (Read more…)

reeves report: Toronto offering on-bill financing for home energy retrofits

A homeowner installing fiberglass insulation as part of Penticton, B.C.’s energy retrofit loan program.

It might be time to replace that aging water heater in the basement. Or that thinning insulation in the attic.

The City of Toronto is here to help, announcing last week that it’s taking steps to make it easier for property owners to make their homes more energy efficient through the Home Energy Loan Program (HELP).

Under the initiative, homeowners will be able to apply for low interest loans (from five years at 2.5 per cent, up to 15 years at 4.25 (Read more…)

the reeves report: Reports question NEB’s approval process for Northern Gateway and Line 9 pipelines

Enbridge under fire as opponents of controversial pipeline projects worry the Canadian energy giant will be ill-prepared to handle potential ruptures throughout Southern Ontario and on B.C.’s rugged coast.

Opponents of Enbridge’s Line 9B pipeline in Southern Ontario are scrambling in the wake of its tentative approval earlier this month by the National Energy Board to highlight just how dangerous overhauling the 38-year-old, 639-kilometre pipeline could be for flora and fauna alike.

Approximately 100 protesters, First Nations members, students and concerned citizens gathered on the front lawn of Queen’s Park in Toronto the day after the NEB’s ruling (Read more…)

the reeves report: Separate Great Lakes from Mississippi River to contain Asian carp: study

A recent study led by the University of Notre Dame and the U.S. Forest Service confirmed that hydrologically separating the Great Lakes from the Mississippi River watershed would be 95 to 100 per cent effective at containing Asian carp.

“Our study goes beyond just presenting barrier options by putting numbers to how effective various barriers will be, including hydrologic separation and the currently operating electric barrier system,” said report author Marion Wittmann of the University of Notre Dame.

“Authors have theorized that invasive species prevention is more cost-effective than control in protecting ecosystem services,” the report states.

The human (Read more…)

the reeves report: Federal court knocks Ottawa for failing to protect endangered species — Ontario could be next

Woodland caribou listed in Canada as a species-at-risk. (Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner Gord Miller is warning Queen’s Park could face sharp reprimands by the courts for its failure to uphold wildlife protections under the Endangered Species Act.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, a federal court confirmed last week the Government of Canada does indeed have a responsibility to follow its own species at risk legislation.

The decision, handed down by Madam Justice Anne Mactavish on Feb. 14, stated the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and the federal Ministry of the Environment “acted unlawfully in failing (Read more…)

the reeves report: Indirect Impacts of Pipelines Should Be Included in Assessments

If oil and gas pipeline proponents can talk about indirect economic benefits stemming from new pipeline infrastructure, opponents should be able to consider the environmental impacts of those indirect actions when arguing against them, according to the Pembina Institute’s federal policy director.

Fair is fair, according to Clare Demerse, and if oil and natural gas companies tout the economic benefits of upstream oil sands production and downstream refining when making the case for new pipeline infrastructure, organizations like Pembina should be able to include the environmental and climatic impacts associated from such activities in the national discussion about our (Read more…)

the reeves report: Ontario to roll out Green Bonds in 2014

GO workers wait ahead of announcement from Ontario government about green bonds (Oct. 30, 2013)

Ontario made a small splash in the financial world at the end of October when Premier Kathleen Wynne and two top cabinet ministers announced the province was set to become the first Canadian jurisdiction to issue “green bonds,” a debt tool for governments to raise money solely to fund environmentally friendly initiatives.

“These bonds will help attract institutional investors, and they will be competitively priced based on what the market bears,” said Finance Minister Charles Sousa at the announcement.

Craig Alexander, senior vice president (Read more…)

the reeves report: Asian carp capable of breeding in Great Lakes: USGS scientists

Captured grass carp at Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans research lab in Burlington, ON (Andrew Reeves)

Anyone doubting whether Asian carp could successfully breed in the Great Lakes watershed got their answer Monday as researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey and Bowling Green State University in Ohio announced four grass carp were found to have lived and bred in the Sandusky River, a tributary of Lake Erie.

This is a critical milestone. Canadian and US scientists and policy makers have been holding onto a last hope that, should the destructive invasive species make its way into the watershed, they (Read more…)

the reeves report: Grass carp found in Grand River sterile

It could have been worse. When the Department of Fisheries and Oceans announced on May 3 that a Grass carp caught in the Grand River near Lake Erie was sterile, biologists and invasive species experts on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border could breathe a sigh of relief.

But not a big sigh of relief. As it stands, evidence that a 40-lb, 44-inch Grass carp was caught by an angler on April 27 is still cause for concern given that it, along with Silver, Bighead and Black carp are all highly worrisome aquatic invasive species whose possession in Ontario (Read more…)

the reeves report: National Energy Board commenting rules ‘undemocratic’

Enbridge buried pipeline marker – east Toronto. Credit: Adam Scott/Environmental Defence.

Federal opposition MPs and environmental groups are crying foul over what they see as the government’s attempt to curtail public comment on Enbridge’s proposed 639-km Line 9 reversal pipeline route through southern Ontario and into Quebec.

Tucked away in last spring’s Bill C-38 omnibus budget bill from Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government is a requirement that any member of the public or other stakeholders wishing to comment through the National Energy Board on Enbridge’s proposed pipeline must apply for permission to comment on the project by filling out (Read more…)

the reeves report: Local Knowledge Key in Land Restoration Program

Building off the idea that few comprehend the environmental challenges occurring in their backyards better than those who witness them daily, the Ontario government has re-launched yet another program to solicit local engagement in improving the province’s natural spaces.

The Land Stewardship and Habitat Restoration Program– operating under the awkward acronym LSHRP – will award small grants of up to $20,000 for communities, municipalities, businesses and First Nations groups to aid in conducting terrestrial remediation efforts across Ontario, provided the group can match the funds donated by the Ministry of Natural Resources.

In its previous incarnation, the $300,000 fund

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the reeves report: Next Steps in Protecting the Great Lakes

Lake Huron shoreline/Photo by Jimmy Brown

In the face of decades of environmental, pollution and development stresses on the shorelines, wetlands, river basins, flora and fauna of the Great Lakes, the government of Ontario realized making a difference in the health of these critical water bodies would require all hands on deck.

Provincial dollars would be needed to help improve the vitality and strengthen protections of lakes Huron, Erie, Ontario and Superior (in addition to the St. Lawrence and Ottawa rivers and any water basins that drain into the province’s four Great Lakes).

But how to allocate the money?

The

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the reeves report: Yes, In My Back Yard!

Not Far From The Tree’s table at YIMBY 2011. Photo courtesy the Centre for City Ecology.

The flow of information and ideas between community residents and policy makers is often a one-way street. When someone tries to flip that idea on its head, it seems almost utopian – until you realize that the flipside is how things ought to be.

Enter the Yes In My Back Yard! Festival, now entering its eighth year. Started back in 2006 by Christina Zeidler, it began as a response to what she and others saw as a lack of public reaction to

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the reeves report: Algonquin Park: A Waste Diversion Success Story

Algonquin Park at sunrise. Flickr image by Karin Lewis.

The crown jewel of Ontario’s provincial park system is being recognized for hitting a crucial milestone not often associated with our parks system: removing garbage.

With approximately one million visitors flocking to Ontario’s largest and most popular park destination, Algonquin Park in Central Ontario is earning praise from the province’s Environmental Commissioner for improving their waste diversion rate from 20 per cent in 2004 to 40 per cent overall by 2011/2012.

And 40 per cent is simply the average: six sites in the park diverted more than 50 per cent of

. . . → Read More: the reeves report: Algonquin Park: A Waste Diversion Success Story

the reeves report: Ontario Forests Will Be Net Carbon Source Until 2040

Ontario Forest in Spring. (Flickr image by jd_09)

Ontario’s Crown forests are expected to remain a net source of carbon emissions for the next three decades, according to the latest forestry report from the Ministry of Natural Resources.

The latest State of Ontario’s Forests report released January 3 – the third issued by the government, this one covering the fiscal years 2004 to 2008 – found that Ontario’s Crown forests will remain a carbon source until at least 2040 largely because of deforestation and decomposition of deceased and aging trees.

After 2040, changes to forest structure will see them become

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the reeves report: Urban River Valleys Mean More Growth for Ontario Greenbelt

Ontario’s Greenbelt – Halton Region

It’s a new beginning for Ontario’s 1.8 million acre Greenbelt.

On January 10, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty was in Newmarket to announce a significant new designation to Greenbelt legislation, which will make it easier for municipalities to add public land to what is already the largest greenbelt in the world.

The new Urban River Valley designation will allow municipalities to retain flood protection controls over the urban rivers they intend to make part of the Greenbelt.

Why is this significant? Burkhard Mausberg, CEO of Friends of the Greenbelt, explained it to

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the reeves report: Ontario Rangers Rally in Support of Life-Changing Program

photo by awreeves

Until the first speaker reached the podium, the protest to save the Ontario Ranger Program at Queen’s Park on January 4 seemed more like a high-school reunion than a community rally.

Approximately 100 people—many in standard issue yellow hard hats emblazoned with the Ministry of Natural Resources logo and covered in the signatures of their workmates who made up their summer family— stood on the lawn of Queen’s Park in the snow hugging and laughing, catching up with friends, singing camp songs, reliving inside jokes from their days in the bush and waving homemade placards, some taped

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the reeves report: Cleaning up the Niagara River

Niagara River © RokaB – Fotolia.com

The Niagara River has come a long way since the 1980s. One would still be advised not to drink the water, swim in some of the public beaches or eat the fish you reel in, but the latest report on the remediation plan reveals a river recovering from decades of abuse.

To mark the 25th anniversary of the Niagara River Remedial Action Plan, first agreed to in 1987, a report from Niagara College engineering professor Anne Michaud outlines the steps taken to improve the river on both sides of the border.

The action

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