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Revised Ontario Mining Act charts a new course

  • Published on May 01 2009 |
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 CPAWS-Wildlands League welcomes fresh approach

TORONTO –CPAWS Wildlands League, a leading conservation group in the province welcomes several changes to Ontario’s Mining Act tabled today by Minister Gravelle in the legislature. In particular the group is pleased, that if passed, the province will implement a new dispute resolution process for Aboriginal-related issues to mining, withdrawals of areas that are culturally significant and an increased regulatory system for exploration.

“Minister Gravelle has been working quietly and creatively over the last year to find the right ingredients for a new mining regime in Ontario,” says Janet Sumner, Executive Director. “We look forward to working with the Minister to make sure good conservation outcomes can occur along with economic prosperity in the province,” Sumner adds. CPAWS Wildlands League has been calling for Mining Act reforms since 2006 and worked with First Nations, human rights, faith-based, legal, student, citizens, environmental and other groups to draw attention to the problems of the Act. The Mining Act, originally passed in 1873, has been the source of many land use conflicts in the province. It was one of the biggest impediments to conservation-based land use planning and a new relationship with Aboriginal peoples.

“Are the changes everything we hoped for?” asks Anna Baggio, Director Conservation Land Use Planning. “No, but Minister Gravelle has set Ontario on a new course that we hope will ultimately lead to certainty, increased protection for the environment and respect for Aboriginal peoples,” Baggio says. “It’s like going from the age of the fountain pen to the Blackberry in one fell swoop,” Baggio adds.

“The tabled legislation has some ways to go before the act is passed,” Sumner reminds, “We hope to address our outstanding concerns around the lack of environmental assessment, ongoing staking before community land use plans are completed and, free, prior and informed consent,” she adds, “If you only change mining laws every century, you want to get it right.”

The Act, if passed, would also enshrine in law the requirement for approved community land use plans prior to the opening of new mines in the Far North. This is a critical piece of the overall Far North Initiative. Earlier this week the province announced progress on Resource Benefit Sharing and now with changes to the Mining Act underway, Wildlands League looks forward to Premier McGuinty delivering the third and final component of the Initiative, good legislation on Far North Land Use Planning.

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For further information please contact:
Janet Sumner, Executive Director (416) 579-7370
Anna Baggio, Director, Conservation Land Use Planning (416) 453-3285

A copy of the changes to the Act can be found at
http://www.ontla.on.ca/bills/billsfiles/39_Parliament/Session1/b173.pdf