Environmental Commissioner criticizes short-term plans

Gord Miller, Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, has released his annual report entitled “Thinking Beyond the Near and Now.” In his remarks to the legislature, Mr. Miller said that with regard to environmental decision-making, “Short-term concerns dominate our thoughts and actions, while the far-ranging or long-term consequences are not given much serious attention.”

He cited the example of how the various isolated decisions made about street width, road quality, waste management, and aggregate management all interrelate to shape environmental impacts of aggregate extraction on the Ontario landscape.

Along these lines, Mr. Miller also emphasized the importance of protecting sensitive ecological systems, such as the Northern Boreal Initiative. The planning use process centres on First National communities but also needs to identify sensitive areas before development proceeds.

“Ironically, this is the very lesson many of us thought was learned in the Oak Ridges Moraines struggles,” said Mr. Miller.

In his report, the Commissioner comments on several key findings regarding: sewage treatment plant effluents and spreading (pathogens continue to contaminate ground and surface waters); species at risk (delayed legal protection and protracted consultation with landowners); invasive species (more than 160 have invaded the Great Lakes basin); important new legislation (the new Safe Water Drinking Act and Nutrient Management Act); and, more.

To read the complete report, visit www.eco.on.ca

For further information, contact Liz Guccionne, Communications, Office of the ECO, at 416-325-3371 / 1-800-701-6454 or lguccione@on.aibn.com

For further information about road dust impacts, see the Air Quality column in the December/January edition of HazMat Management magazine at www.hazmatmag.com