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John Laforet


Since When is it Acceptable to Destroy the Environment to Save the Environment?

Posted: 02/15/2012 12:25 am

You would think if the government of Ontario owned a tract of land that was home to species protected by it's own Endangered Species Act, it would be off limits for development, right? Wrong. In Dalton McGuinty's Ontario, his government is making Ministry of Natural Resources land at Ostrander Point available to a private developer who is now seeking an exception to the Endangered Species Act. The permit seeks permission specifically to "kill, harm and harass" threatened species, and to "disrupt and destroy" their habitat.

Since when is it acceptable to destroy the environment to save the environment? How strange it is that the laws created to protect wildlife, endangered species, migratory bird paths, rare biodiversity, and pristine shorelines are the very laws that are now deemed inconvenient for government environment ministers. These are the people who want to "streamline" (read repeal) environmental protections to make it easier to get projects like this approved.

For example, a magnificent 28 kilometres of undeveloped shoreline in eastern Lake Ontario lies in wait for the onslaught of the construction of massive wind turbines in an area that is virtually a migratory bird super highway. Ostrander Point in Prince Edward County is home to hundreds of species of birds, wildlife rare vegetation, and is a globally recognized Important Bird Area (IBA).

The government of Ontario may grant a permit for Gilead Power Corporation to kill, harm, and harass endangered species such as the Blanding's Turtle and the Whip-poor-will bird. The permit also includes destroying their habitat which is not very green, is it?

Environmental NGOs around the world have specifically identified IBAs as "no-go" zones for industrial wind turbines because of their Globally Threatened Species, Range Restricted Species, Biome Restricted Species. They are areas for the conservation of globally threatened, range restricted, and congregatory birds.

The second permit applied for by Gilead Power is for construction of 5.4 km of roads in a habitat that has been described by their own consultants as having "special features make this site unique in the Site District."

In just over a week, more than 500 individual requests to deny these permits have been sent to the Premier and Ministry of Environment through savetheblandingsturtle.com, a website developed to allow concerned citizens to send a message of opposition to the government in 30 seconds or less.

Ostrander Point is one of those situtions where environmental ethics gets complicated for some. While many believe that wind energy is some form of saviour that will allow us to avoid the real issues of climate change, even some of wind energy's most ardent supporters can't in good conscience support the killing of threatened species. Ontarians have until February 19th to write the government of Ontario with your thoughts on this important environmental issue.

Whether you're for "killing, harming and harassing" birds and turtles (like Gilead Power is) or against this practice, we all enjoy the right to at least express our views to the government, and on a decision like this, the more discussion the better.


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