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Letter to the editor

As a citizen of Ontario and an environmental scientist, I am very concerned about the across-the-board suspension of Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR), which aims to protect the environment we depend on for the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we grow. The EBR is the main tool for the public to find out about, and participate in, decision-making related to projects that may affect water, land, air, and wildlife in Ontario. The suspension of the EBR allows the government to push forward, projects or laws that could damage the environment, without consulting or notifying the public. Yes, governments need to act fast to confront the pandemic, but this sweeping move goes too far. Industry and developers will take the opportunity to push through projects without environmental scrutiny. Projects that get approved today with no environmental oversight will likely have long-term and costly impacts to our local watersheds, waterways, and landscapes. There is already an emergency measure in the EBR that could be applied to projects directly related to addressing the pandemic, while continuing to hold all other projects to the rules. This is the most rational approach, yet the provincial government is exploiting the current crises to push through their developer-friendly agenda. We must not let our legacy of environmental protections in Ontario be dismantled, while the public is understandably distracted and worried about the COVID-19 pandemic. The public needs to let the government know that suspending the EBR is wrong and short-sighted. Sincerely, Andrea Kirkwood L1R 3P4

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