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LETTER: Conservationists call legislative changes 'troubling' and 'short-sighted'

'This protection of the environment transcends politics, as waterways, precipitation, and runoff do not recognize geographical boundaries or parties of political stripes,' say letter writers
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Midland Today welcomes letters to the editor. They can be sent to andrew@midlandtoday.ca. Please include your daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication).
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Open letter to Ontario Premier Doug Ford;

We have been involved in conservation activities in Ontario for over 40 years both on an individual basis and through the Ontario Federation Anglers & Hunters and our club.

We are speaking for ourselves through this letter as we are concerned conservationists. We believe that the best way to conserve the wildlife that we depend on for heritage activities is protect the habitat that they live in: Our forests, our wetlands, and our waters. 

Last month, your government introduced a budget bill that includes language that would allow a cabinet minister to override conservation authorities' science-based watershed approach to planning and permitting to one based solely on politics. 

This gives absolute control over to political lobbyists which, as we fear, represent the financial interests of a few rather than the greater conservation good of our province.  

Conservation authorities, along with conservationist like us, believe that development, if well planned, can happen safely while maintaining nature’s beauty and eco-diversity. This means that the technical agencies and environmental scientists support responsible development in our watersheds, which, in our view, is not to be confused with being anti-development. 

The impact of this change is shortsighted. It overrides science for the benefit of a few people who want to build on now protected lands. It will have huge environmental consequences for generations to come. We only have one land. Once built on, it is lost for ever. 

Where is the long view? People in the future will look on this loss of wild lands and ask why did they let this happen? You know why. Money!

Conservation authorities, supported by conservationists, are apolitical organizations, created by bipartisan legislation to advance conservation, restoration, development, and management of our natural resources in our watersheds.  

This protection of the environment transcends politics, as waterways, precipitation, and runoff do not recognize geographical boundaries or parties of political stripes. 

We should all be able to agree that effecting environmental legislation, through an unrelated budget bill, for the purpose of taking advantage of a loophole that allows the government to avoid appropriate consultation, is irresponsible. 

Understanding that the legislation as proposed will have negative impacts for future Ontarians, is unacceptable to conservationists and concerned citizens across our province. The government’s actions are unfortunately putting development against conservation principles. 

Many conservationists have supported the Conservative Party over the years. They have valued the positive relationship with local MPPs who have supported our conservation efforts. They supported our balancing of environmental stewardship with fiscal responsibility. This support of angling and hunting heritage activities has been important to us.

This seemingly new direction of your government and party is troubling, as it no longer aligns us with personal values respecting conservation and the protection of our environment.

Frank Kreisz and Ted Duncan
Orillia

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