Media Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

New Ontario Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act!

Ontario's Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act passed Third Reading on Monday June 19th and received Royal Assent on Tuesday June 20th.

Front and centre in the new legislation is the concept of "Ecological Integrity" (EI). EI will become the guiding principle in our parks, putting nature first and moving away from industrial development. While we're very excited about the new law, there still are still some areas of concern in the new bill.

  • Logging will be banned in all parks and Conservation Reserves, except Algonquin Park
  • Hydroelectric development might be considered for remote communities
  • Cabinet can still make minor boundary changes without legislated public scrutiny
  • The new law lacks a "Good Neighbour Clause" ensuring that those 'neighbours' outside of parks are responsible for any of their actions that cause damage in a park or conservation reserve (the province has promised to create a policy around this - not good enough).
  • Aboriginal concerns weren't adequately addressed

However, at the end of the day we all have a lot to be proud of. The yardsticks of legislative protection have been significantly strengthened.

As you can imagine, this isn't the end of the process, the bill still needs to be proclaimed by cabinet. Here is our understanding of the next steps (the dates are a best guess only):

While the Bill received Royal assent on Tuesday June 20th, it will only come into affect after cabinet has proclaimed it. This is expected to occur after Ontario Parks staff have completed the new Regulations for Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves. At the earliest, this will come into affect late in 2006, for parks staff implementation in 2007. After the bill is proclaimed and the regulations completed, the development of a new Policy Manual must be completed within two years of the Bill being proclaimed.

Of course, there is still more work to be done. We will continue to engage in these processes and will keep you informed along the way.

For now it's time to celebrate.

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