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Tuesday, 01 November 2016 20:39

‘Speak for your environment’—Commissioner

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By Julia Taylor

            Comments to the government on environmental issues “really, really matter,” Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner Dianne Saxe told local folks recently when she visited Kawartha Conservation to speak about climate change, energy and environment, and to hear about local action and emerging issues.

            Unique, thoughtful, quality comments do

get attention, promised Saxe, who spent 40 years as an environmental lawyer. “If you don’t speak up, who will?” She said everyone has information about their own local issues that her office needs to know.

            She urged people to use Ontario’s Environmental Registry to speak up. Citizens’ comments to the registry have helped inform many government decisions, she said. It’s the best route for the public to comment on or appeal issues.

            The registry is currently asking for comment on amendments to the Bill of Environmental Rights. “In Canada we have a world-leading Environmental Bill of Rights.” It requires the commissioner to be non partisan, but not neutral. And with it comes the Environmental Registry.

            Other topics open for comment on the registry include: the long-term energy plan, electric-vehicle incentives, permits to take water for bottling, and a wetlands strategy.

            Saxe described herself and her 23 staff as “the guardians” of the Environmental Bill of Rights. Her office, she said, is like a “can opener” (to access often hidden information) and “a megaphone” (to bring information and issues to public and government attention).

            The office produces three reports a year—always based on proven, reliable, relevant research—to help the government and public with policy debate. The first, on energy, is available now. The next two, on climate change and the environment, will be available in the coming months.

            Find out more about Saxe and her reports at eco.on.ca. Follow the environmental registry on twitter @ONT_ECO. To access papers for comment, search key words on ebr.gov.on.ca.

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