Click here to download Waterkeeper's comment to the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines.
September 15, 2007
Mr. Roy Spooner Legislative Amendments Project Lead Ministry of Northern Development and Mines Mineral Development and Lands Branch 933 Ramset Lake Road, Willet Green Miller Ctr, Level B6 Sudbury, Ontario P3E 6B5
RE: Potential Changes to the Ontario Mining Act â€“ EBR posting 010-1018
Dear Mr. Spooner,
We are writing in support of the commentary submitted by Mining Watch dated the 28th of August 2007. Like Mining Watch, we are very pleased to see that the Government of Ontario is considering amending the outdated Mining Act and its regulations. Citizens anxious about the future of their communities in the face of expanding mining operations often contact Waterkeeper for assistance. We welcome, accordingly, any chance to clarify the existing regulations and to empower surface rights holders. Nevertheless, we share Mining Watch's concerns regarding the proposed changes and similarly recommend that more meaningful amendments be undertaken.
Mining operations can cause immeasurable harm to water resources. Lake Ontario, and the Great Lakes more generally, cannot bear any more damage. The wellbeing of this province is closely connected to that of the Great Lakes. In addition to providing habitat for hundred of species, 26 million people drink from the Great Lakes and 60 million tourists visit them each year. The Lakes only replenish one percent of what is extracted each year.
They cannot be considered a renewable resource and should not be treated as such. In light of this reality, we are particularly discouraged by how limited the broadened list is of protected lands. Although extending protection from staking to airports, natural gas/oil/water pipelines, and churches is a positive step, ecologically vulnerable areas should also be excluded, particularly where water sources are involved. Consequently, we would like to see this list expanded to have a more profound impact.
Central to all our concerns is the fact that the mining industry remains, even within the proposed amendments, in a position of privilege in Ontario. Aboriginal rights, the wellbeing of communities, a healthy environment, and the success of other economic interests are all priorities that should not be trumped by the interests of a single industry.
We wish to thank the Ministry again for reassessing the issue of mining regulation in Ontario. We are concerned, however, by the proposed regulation's failure to address community concerns and environmental protection. For these reasons, we reiterate our support for the commentary submitted by Mining Watch.
Mark Mattson President and Waterkeeper