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Species at Risk: New Permit by Rule and Online Registry, Species-Specific Exemptions and Prescribed Habitat Protection

Jun 28, 2013

Permit by Rule and Online Registry

Effective July 1, 2013, Ontario Regulation 176/13 will amend Ontario’s species at risk protection regime by introducing a new “permit by rule” or standardized registration and permitting system with an online registry.  The new approach only applies to certain types of prescribed activities including pits and quarries, hydro-electric generating stations, wind facilities, drainage works, forest operations in Crown forests and certain activities in or adjacent to a watercourse.  Under the new system, rather than undergoing an individual Ministry of Natural Resources (“MNR”) permit application review, the proponents of prescribed  activities will follow a set online registration process.

The new standardized registration system is intended to be streamlined and proponent-led, allowing the MNR to focus on projects with greater potential to affect species at risk.  The new system should make obtaining approvals under the Endangered Species Act, 2007 (“ESA”) for prescribed activities faster, more uniform and more predictable.  However, the current project by project approval process will continue to apply to non-prescribed activities including most land development.

Species-Specific Exemptions

Ontario Regulation 176/13 also introduces new species-specific exemptions from the prohibitions under Sections 9 and 10 of the ESA (no person shall kill or harass species at risk or destroy their habitat) for Barn Swallow, Bobolink, Eastern Meadowlark, Butternut and Chimney Swift.  The species-specific exemptions apply to all projects, including development activities, as long as the project meets the conditions set out under the regulation for each exempted species that might be affected.  Requirements include submitting a notice of activity form to the MNR through the online registry as well as undertaking set species-specific mitigation measures.

New Prescribed Habitat Protection

In addition to the changes described above, amendments to the general regulation under the ESA (Ontario Regulation 242/08) prescribe habitat for six more species at risk and amend the habitat regulation for Pale-bellied Frost Lichen.  Once approved, these amendments will increase the habitat considerations all proponents must take into account during the approvals process.  The prescribed habitat amendment proposal, which is posted on the Environmental Registry, is open to public comment until July 15, 2013.

View the prescribed habitat amendment proposal.

View Ontario Regulation 176/13 implementing the new permit by rule and registry system. 

For additional information on the changes under Ontario Regulation 176/13, see the MNR website.

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