Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner is worried that Ontario has lost momentum when it comes to the province’s pressing environmental issues.
In his 2010/2011 Annual Report, titled Engaging Solutions, Gord Miller says there’s no shortage of talk about the problems such as climate change, waste diversion, and the loss of biodiversity. “But when it comes to doing something” says Miller, “there doesn’t seem to be a lot actually happening.”
On the Great Lakes, for example, he says that lengthy negotiations between Ontario and the federal government “threaten to paralyze progress towards further clean-up, and Ontario is allowing its existing policy tools to idle.” In the meantime, the Obama administration has promised $2.2 billion over five years.
“We have to find a way to get to a point of action on these issues” says Miller. “We don’t see ourselves as having a culture of inaction and procrastination. Yet that would be a fair criticism from any impartial observer.”
Key water-related recommendations from the report:
- The Ministry of Environment (MOE) should develop Great Lakes targets and ensure that Great Lakes policies are included in the source protection planning process.
- The MOE should update the Provincial Water Quality Objective for Total Phosphorus to reflect individual lake sensitivity and watershed-level cumulative effects.
- The MOE should require stormwater management facility owners or operators to monitor and maintain all stormwater management infrastructure in Ontario.
- The Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR), in association with Conservation Ontario, should review and update floodplain maps in Ontario in order to adapt them to impacts from climate change.
- The MOE should use its existing powers (e.g., through conditions in Permits to Take Water) to push industrial water takers to use water more efficiently.
- The MOE should develop aggressive and measurable conservation targets for both the province and municipalities. Municipal conservation targets should ideally be set on a watershed basis in a manner that supports functioning hydrogeological systems and considers the cumulative pressures on the watershed.