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Enviro groups take local developer to court over bird deaths

City News Toronto

By Shawne McKeown

April 7, 2011.

Ecojustice and Ontario Nature are back in court Thursday to argue their case against a developer they claim is responsible for the “most lethal building structures for birds in Toronto.”

The activist groups launched a private prosecution over the 2008 and 2009 deaths of hundreds of migratory birds, including some species in decline. The animals were killed flying into the towers of Consilium Place in Scarborough, near McCowan Road and Highway 401. The trial against developer Menkes starts Thursday.

The highly-reflective surfaces on the outside of the towers mirror the sky and trees and confuse birds, the groups claim.

Menkes Consilium Inc., Menkes Developments Ltd., Menkes Property Management Services Ltd. and three other companies are charged under Ontario’s Environmental Protection Act (EPA) and could face a maximum fine that could total in the millions of dollars. The companies are also charged under the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, which carries a maximum fine of $60,000.

Ecojustice claims up to one billion birds are killed annually by flying into buildings across North America. The local Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP) claims it has documented approximately 7,000 dead or injured birds around Consilium Place in the past 10 years.

The city of Toronto estimates about one million birds are killed flying into buildings every year. The city does have bird-friendly development guidelines and also launched a Lights Out campaign to raise awareness about the issue.

“A successful prosecution would encourage other building owners to take action to avoid this unnecessary tragedy,” Ecojustice lawyer Albert Koehl said in a statement. “If we don’t act soon then waking up, or strolling in our parks and ravines, to the pleasant sounds of many songbirds may soon become a thing of the past.”

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