Last week, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper submitted a comment on the proposed changes to the Ontario Mining Act. As part of the “Far North Planning Initiative”, the provincial government says it plans to change the Mining Act to ensure future mining projects are developed “in a sustainable way that benefits and respects communities.” The Act has long been criticized for favouring industry over environmental and community needs.
In our comment, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper offered 5 recommendations, including:
- All mining projects, from exploration to remediation, need to be subject to the Environmental Assessment Act.
- This should include the mining of uranium, currently exempted from provincial oversight.
- The new Act should also include a system to identify and screen out ecologically sensitive lands from mining claims.
- Public consultation must be increased substantially with the surface rights holders. Aboriginal peoples should also play a greater role in the claims process beyond the preliminary stages.
- The proposed “Good Samaritan” regulation – which exempts individuals or companies who inherit contaminated lands from several environmental laws – needs to be modernized in such a way as to continue to encourage remediation while adhering to regulations in the Environmental Protection Act and the Ontario Water Resources Act.
“We took up the Ontario government’s challenge and worked hard to provide thoughtful and realistic improvements to the Mining Act” says Waterkeeper and President Mark Mattson.
Just announced, the deadline for First Nations consultation was extended from November 12, 2008 to January 15, 2009. Details on the announcement are available here.
Our original comments submitted to Ministry of Northern Development and Mines are available here.
Waterkeeper’s recommendations are also the subject of Living at the Barricades’ recent episode:
Shafted: Fixing the Mining Act in Ontario (November 4, 2008)
Listen to this week's Living at the Barricades.
Is the Ontario Mining Act broken, or is it doing exactly what it should be doing? Mark and Krystyn examine why the Mining Act is failing Ontarians by allowing "bad actors and bad actions" to use the Act to their advantage, and the steps the government is taking to try and solve the problem. We also speak with musician and concerned citizen Joey Wright, who tells us about his community's battle against a proposed Uranium mine in Lanark County.
Music on this week's Episode:
Birds by Dawn Blythe & Dave Clark
Of Gods & Men by Phollop Willing PA
Don't Hate Duncan by Boygina
Sally's On Fire by Holy Microphone
The Lost Man by Selina Martin