McGuinty Government Strengthening Protection of Parks and Natural Areas

Archived Release

McGuinty Government Strengthening Protection of Parks and Natural Areas

Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry

Public Invited to Participate in Modernizing Parks Act TORONTO, Sept. 9 - 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, Natural Resources Minister David Ramsay announced today. "Ontarians want to ensure our natural heritage is protected," said Ramsay. "By modernizing legislation, our network of parks and protected areas will stay strong and healthy, and provide Ontarians with a quality of life that is second to none." In 1954, when the Provincial Parks Act was last reviewed, there were only eight provincial parks. Today there are 316 parks, 249 conservation reserves and 10 wilderness areas in the province. Ontario's system of parks and protected areas welcomes more than 10 million visitors a year from Ontario and around the world. The government will review its legislation governing provincial parks, conservation reserves and wilderness areas. Open houses to provide the public with information will be held in Timmins, North Bay, Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Huntsville, Ottawa, London and Toronto. The government will also hold meetings with stakeholders and Aboriginal communities. In addition, the public can comment through the Environmental Bill of Rights Registry at www.ene.gov.on.ca/samples/search/Ebrquery_REG.htm by entering Registry Number AB04E6001. "As well as protecting Ontario's natural heritage, our parks and protected areas system provides significant recreational and tourism benefits," said Ramsay. "We are delivering on our commitment to a real, positive change that will contribute to the health, vitality and economic prosperity of Ontario." Backgrounder ------------------------------------------------------------------------- IT'S IN OUR NATURE: A Shared Vision for Parks and Protected Areas Legislation The Ontario government is committed to the permanent protection and ecological integrity of the province's unique system of parks and protected areas. For the first time in 50 years, the government will work with Ontarians to review legislation for Ontario's protected areas - our provincial parks, conservation reserves and wilderness areas. For more than a century, Ontario's parks and protected areas have preserved significant natural environments for future generations, while contributing to tourism and providing recreational opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. Why review parks legislation now? The last comprehensive review of the Provincial Parks Act took place in 1954, when there were only eight provincial parks. Ontario's network of protected areas has grown dramatically since then to 316 provincial parks, 249 conservation reserves and 10 wilderness areas. Public expectations about protected areas and how they should be managed, the interests of stakeholders and the science of environmental protection have all changed significantly over time. Which laws will be reviewed? The Acts governing parks, conservation reserves and wilderness areas will be part of the review. These include the Provincial Parks Act, the Conservation Reserves Regulation under the Public Lands Act, and the Wilderness Areas Act. How will the Ontario government work with the public? Through the review, the government will work with Ontarians to update protected areas legislation and strengthen the protection of our protected areas system through: - A discussion document, outlining key legislative proposals, available for review and comment electronically through the Environmental Bill of Rights Registry and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Ontario Parks websites. - The opportunity for people to e-mail or mail in comments and suggestions. - Meetings with key stakeholders. - Meetings with Provincial Treaty Organizations and inviting input from Aboriginal communities. - A series of public open houses across Ontario in Timmins, North Bay, Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Huntsville, Ottawa, London and Toronto. How can members of the public make their views known? The Ministry of Natural Resources has developed a discussion paper and a questionnaire which explain the key legislative proposals and invite comments until November 8, 2004. An online version of the questionnaire is available and can be easily accessed by following links at www.OntarioParks.com or www.mnr.gov.on.ca, or by visiting the Environmental Bill of Rights Registry at http://www.ene.gov.on.ca/envision/env_reg/ebr/english/ and entering Registry Number AB04E6001. The questionnaire will also be available at open houses being held in nine communities across Ontario. People may also request a copy of the discussion paper by sending a request to: Protected Areas Legislation Review Ministry of Natural Resources P.O. Box 7000 300 Water Street Peterborough, Ontario, K9J 8M5 What role will the Ontario Parks board of directors play in the review of protected areas legislation? The Ontario Parks board of directors is a public advisory committee established by the Minister of Natural Resources. The board provides advice to the minister on parks and protected areas topics. The board consists of members that represent a variety of interests and backgrounds, such as public administration, education, environmental advocacy, tourism, municipal government, law and business. All Ontario's regions are represented on the board. For the protected areas legislation review, the board will: - review the legislative proposals; - review input received through consultation; - meet with stakeholders upon request; and - provide written recommendations to the Minister of Natural Resources. Current board members include: - Ron Vrancart, Chair (Toronto) - Dave Edgar (Sault Ste. Marie) - Stewart Elgie (Ottawa) - Jennifer East (Killarney) - Lynn Arnold Cox (Pickle Lake) - Tannis Drysdale (Fort Frances) - Sylvia Barnard (Sudbury) - Bill Calvert (Huntsville) - Ric Symmes (Orillia) - Lorraine Brown (Leith) - David Earthy (Toronto) - Gerald Killan (London) Disponible en fran├žais www.mnr.gov.on.caFor further information: Media calls only: Ginette Albert, Minister's Office, (416) 314-2212; Steve Payne, Communications Services Branch, (416) 314-2103