Ontario govt needs green upgrades: Auditor
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Environment Minister Jeff Yurek said that his ministry’s priority during the early days of the pandemic was to ensure clean drinking water and continuing sewage treatment, but there continued to be postings and feedback collected on the EBR.
“We honor and respect the EBR process,” Yurek said. “We’ve met all our legislative requirements on that bill.
Government ministries tasked with protecting the province’s environmental resources don’t have anywhere near enough experts on staff to handle that important responsibility, the report also suggests,.
Ontario Parks has only seven ecologists and 12 park planners in a staff of 254.
The Ministry of Environment has produced “few plans” to manage protected areas with three-quarters of the province’s at-risk species, and has little clue how invasive species have impacted those spaces, the report says.
Two-thirds of Algonquin Provincial Park remains open to commercial logging, so it cannot reasonably be called a “protected area,” the audit says.
In the booming real estate market of southern Ontario, only 0.6% of lands are protected and the depletion of wetlands has left it vulnerable to flooding, the report says.
“Of the over 15,800 species of plants and animals in Ontario that have been assessed by scientists, 2,245 are of conservation concern — they are vulnerable, rare or rapidly declining — and their future survival is uncertain according to the 2015 Wild Species report,” the audit says.
It notes no wildlife park has been created in Ontario since 1983.
ONTARIO PARK NOTES
Number of provincial parks: 335
Number of conservation areas: 295
Percentage of province that’ protected: 10.7%
Where most Ontarians live: Mixedwood Plains Ecozone
Other two zones: Ontario Shield Ecozone, Hudson Bay Lowlands Ecozone