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Credit: This alert is based on information provided from CPAWS-Wildlands League. Any modifications made to the text are noted accordingly.

Oct. 25/05 Update on Ontario Parks Act

New provincial parks and conservation reserves legislation

Oct. 25/05 Toronto - The McGuinty government is introducing new legislation that, if passed, would ensure the permanent protection and ecological integrity of Ontario’s provincial parks and conservation reserves, Natural Resources Minister David Ramsay announced today. The new Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act received first reading on October 25, 2005. Full story

Algonquin left out in the cold - logging still allowed

Oct. 26/05 CPAWS - New parks legislation introduced in the Ontario Legislature yesterday will help ensure a healthy future for one of the province's greatest assets – our more than 600 provincial parks and conservation reserves. Full story

Important: Please fill out the Ontario Parks online survey before midnight November 9, 2004:

Click here to fill out online survey!

! Help us achieve a strong law to protect our parks

Sept. 9. 2004 — The McGuinty government is strengthening Ontario's parks and protected areas by launching a major review of the province's parks legislation for the first time in 50 years. The public is invited to participate in modernizing the Parks Act by either filling out an online survey by midnight November 9, 2004 or by submitting written comments via the Environmental Bill of Rights Registry before November 8, 2004. MNR press release.

Ontario's new Protected Areas legislation must:

1 – Put Nature First
Entrench ecological integrity as the overriding principle guiding protected areas, making sure that natural systems are healthy and intact

2 – Prohibit industrial uses – including:
• Logging - from all protected areas including Algonquin Park
• Mining - from all protected areas
• Hydroelectric development

3 – Restrict and reduce roads and all forms of motorized access
• On Land
• On Water
• In the air

4 – Prohibit hunting
(Note: This item has been added by the WildlifeOntario Group)
Given that the majority of people, in response to surveys, felt that protection of habitat and wildlife was the primary purpose of these designated areas, other than for Aboriginal & Treaty rights, hunting should be prohibited.

It must also
• Permanently protect boundaries
• Provide Park managers with resources needed to ensure parks remain healthy
• Manage for the long term - dedication to future generations
• Require regular reporting
• Recognize Aboriginal & Treaty rights
• Motorized access must be prohibited, restricted, curtailed and land rehabilitated after roads and trails are removed.

Why Ontario needs new legislation

The rules for what can and cannot be done in our parks are close to 50 years old. They say almost nothing about what we must do to make sure that parks are healthy homes for the wild species they are meant to protect. And they leave many dangerous loopholes for industrial activities, such as logging roads and gravel pits, or developments, such as hotels or golf courses that can directly threaten the very ecosystems that our parks are meant to protect.

When the Ontario Parks system was started in 1954, Ontario had just eight parks. Now we have more than 600 parks and conservation reserves, but we still do not have a law that puts these areas out of reach for development and that makes protection of species and habitats the priority in parks management.

What's the problem with the current situation?
Right now, the door is wide open to increased development and ecosystem abuse within parks, including:
• 23 parks still face the potential threat of mining
• Over 70% of Algonquin Park is open to logging
• Road development, including gravel pits and logging roads that cut through protected areas to access timber areas
• Hotels, resorts and other large-scale accommodation
• Expanded motorized recreation, including snowmobile and all-terrain vehicle (ATV) use
• Recreational development including golf courses and entertainment complexes

How weak is current protection for our parks?
• Today, parks can be eliminated at a meeting of the provincial Cabinet at any time.

There are no requirements in the Parks Act to
• Manage parks to protect habitat, even for endangered species
• Funding for the parks system has been cut significantly. This has led to more and more emphasis on generating revenue from parks instead of on protecting the natural values of our protected areas.
• Hundreds of our newest protected areas are Conservation Reserves. These have no staff or independent budgets and are managed under the Public Lands Act instead of the Parks Act.

How can we improve protection for parks?
We must pass a Parks Act that makes the ecological protection of parks the first priority in parks planning and management. We need clear rules about what is appropriate in parks and what is not and we should make the protection of parks from industrial uses the law, not just general policy. And we must give park managers the resources they need to ensure that parks remain healthy.

Background Info:
MNR press release and backgrounder
Wildlands League press release

Problems with the current act:

What the new act should include:

Full details on the review process:

EBR posting:
written submissions required by Nov. 8 2004.

Fill out the Ontario Parks survey on what should be included in our new parks legislation, by midnight Nov. 9, 2004

Download the Wildlands League parks postcard or order cards to distribute to your friends, family or group!

• Download card (PDF format)

• Order cards for distribution

• Factsheet on why we need a law that protects our parks (PDF format)

Credit:  The Wildlands League for the use of content.

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