WWF-Canada

WWF-Canada

September 15, 2010 11:33 ET

WWF Supports Ontario's Amended Far North Act (Bill 191)

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 15, 2010) - Today WWF-Canada indicated that it hopes the Ontario Legislature will soon pass an amended Act with respect to land use planning and protection in the Far North.

The legislation was introduced in June 2009 to implement a vision announced by Premier McGuinty a year earlier for the boreal region occupying 42 per cent of the province. The Premier's vision involves protecting at least half of the area, while encouraging new economic development. Both objectives are to be accomplished through community land use plans led by First Nations.

"We felt the conservation objectives were secure in the proposed legislation, but it needed to be improved to recognize greater control of the planning process by First Nations," said Monte Hummel, President Emeritus of WWF-Canada. "Therefore, we have strongly supported First Nations concerns, through our testimony before the Standing Committee, through many meetings with both government and First Nations leaders, and through our recommendations for specific changes to the Act."

The 49 pages of amendments introduced this week by Linda Jeffrey, Minister of Natural Resources, will go a long way to ensuring that First Nations have an equal say in planning. Of particular importance is the introduction in Section 6 of a joint planning body with equal representation from the Province and First Nations to oversee the planning process, to advise on funding, and to determine a dispute resolution mechanism. Such a joint body was recommended by the Far North Advisory Council in their March, 2009 report, including representatives from the mining, prospecting, water power and forest industries, as well as environmental groups. In addition, WWF emphasized the importance of $16 million in new provincial funding to flow directly to First Nations engaged in land use planning.

"WWF is respectful of First Nations' opposition to the Bill, and we understand their concerns to revolve around jurisdictional issues that can only be resolved by government-to-government discussions, not by a third-party conservation organization such as WWF," said Hummel. "We hope that these issues can be resolved by those responsible in the near future. The sooner this can be done, the sooner all interested parties can work effectively together to ensure both protection and new prosperity for Ontario's northern communities."

About WWF-Canada

WWF-Canada is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with more than 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. Learn more at www.wwf.ca or www.facebook.com/wwfcanada.

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