THUNDER BAY -- Members of the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association say they're disappointed they were excluded from a panel dedicated to improving the Endangered Species Act.
NOMA issued a news release to media Wednesday expressing their dismay for not being included in the government-appointed panel that made recommendations to Minister of Natural Resources Michael Gravelle.
The Endangered Species Act Panel Report and Recommendations was released to the public on Monday.
Gravelle issued a statement Wednesday afternoon stating he felt the panel was well represented with a broad and balanced range of expertise from the areas of forestry, agriculture, aggregates, development and infrastructure and environmental organizations.
“I was tremendously pleased to see the panel reach consensus on a number of areas and that the forestry sector was well represented in the recommendations put forward,” he said.
The forest industry continues to be a top priority for the provincial government, Gravelle said, adding they are committed to balancing a strong protection for endangered species with unwavering support for the forestry sector.
“It has always been our intention to implement a multi-stakeholder panel to include representatives from NOMA and I am pleased to confirm this will be part of our next steps,” said Gravelle.
NOMA was pleased with at least one recommendation from the report. The forest sector recommended the province recognize the Crown Forest Sustainability Act is equivalent to the Endangered Species Act when it comes to provisions for protecting species at risk.
“Ontario has a world-class forest management framework in place that provides for a variety of values, including the mandatory protection of species at risk and their habitat,” said NOMA executive vice president David Canfield in the release.
“This process is constantly adapting to new science to ensure that forestry standards are always up to date. We know it, the government knows it and that is why this recommendation needs to be acted on right away.”