Northwatch News | May 2016
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Dry Conditions Bring Early Fire Season Across Northern Ontario
Highways 11 and 17 were closed due to forest fires over the May long weekend, and the Municipality of Greenstone declared a state of emergency on the holiday Monday when flames from Fire 14 got dangerously close to the municipal building in Geraldton. Heavy water bomber use brought the fire under control.  By mid-week, there were 6 new fires to report in the Northeast Region, all of them still relatively small at the time of reporting on May 24th. There are 5 other active fires in the region: Hearst 4 is not yet under control at 475 hectares; Hearst 5 covers 2747 hectares and is not under control; North Bay 8 is being held at 0.8 of a hectare;  Wawa 6 is being held at 1.5 hectares; and Wawa 7 covers 294 hectares and is not under control. Approximately a dozen more fires are burning in northwestern Ontario. The largest, Red Lake Fire 003, is listed as not under control and is straddling the border between Ontario and Manitoba. That fire is 75,000 hectares in size. The fire hazard has been high across northeastern Ontario throughout May, with  the region's dry conditions a result of below-normal snowfall over the past winter. MNR experts are predicting that by the end of the summer, as the warming phase known as el Nino weakens, there will be a return to an average fire season. Visit MNR Fire site and interactive map.
Federal Environmental Commissioner Finds Pipeline Oversight Inadequate
Northwatch pointed to the January 2016 report of the federal environmental commissioner as more cause for concern about TransCanada's proposal to use an aging natural gas line across northern Ontario to ship diluted bitumen and other crude oils from Alberta's tar sands to the east coast. The Commissioner’s overall finding was that “the National Energy Board’s  tracking of company compliance with pipeline approval conditions was inadequate”.  READ STATEMENT
On April 26th the National Energy Board released a "preliminary timeline" for its review of Energy East. Key (estimated) dates include issuing the "list of participants" in early June and the hearing order in mid-June, followed by "Panel Sessions in communities along pipeline route" from  August to December, a "Written Process for Participants" from January to May 2017, draft conditions (of approval) for comment in mid-2017, and final argument by the end of 2017. The NEB would then submit its report to the federal government in March 2018. Read NEB News Release
MNR Finalizes Land Use Decision for Wawa District
After many years in the making, the Ministry of Natural Resources has finalized the Land Use Plan for Crown Lands and Waters in Wawa District.  A decision was made on April 4, 2016 to proceed with the proposal to post the final Phase 5 Crown Land Use Atlas Harmonization Project (CLUAH) on the Environmental Registry and amendment to the Crown Land Use Planning Atlas, subject to changes made below as a result of public consultation, during which the Ministry received a total of 1452 comments. MNR describes there having been several themes in the public comments, including: balance between the protection of remote areas and designated remote tourism areas and equitable motorized access opportunities; balance between protection and other industries such as forestry and mining; and balance between public use and tourism and commercial industry uses; continuation of the protection of remote areas and designated remote tourism areas for current and future generations was a common theme throughout consultation; equitable opportunity for motorized access was another common theme throughout consultation. Submissions were received from Aboriginal communities and Aboriginal organizations, forest industry, mining industry, tourism industry, non-government interest groups and NGOs, local residents and the general public.
White River Forest Management Plan at First Stage of Development
An “invitation to participate” has been issued for the development of the 2018-2028 forest management plan for the White River.  This first notice kickstarts a planning process that will take approximately two years; at this stage, interested members of the public are encouraged to identify their interest and ensure that they are on the contact list that will be used throughout the planning process. 
The review of the “Proposed Long Term Management Direction” is scheduled for September, 2016, with proposed operations expected to be ready for review by February 2017. According to the tentative schedule, the draft forest management plan would be ready for public review in September 2017,a nd approved in early 2018. An approved forest management plan is scheduled for implementation commencing April 1, 2018.
The plan is being developed by the White River Forest Partnership, which is a limited partnership of the Community Development Corporation of the Township of White River, Pic Mobert Sawmill Corporation, and 3762165 Canada Inc. WRFP is responsible for forest management planning in consultation with the MNRF and the public, and is responsible for all of the forestry activities on the White River Forest, including forest management planning, harvesting, renewal, tending, road construction, and road maintenance.
The MNR contact is Zachary White at the Wawa District office; email or phone  (705) 856-4715. The Plan Author (industry contact) is Dale Goodfellow, R.P.F. , tel  807-868-2370 ext. 225 and email
Contingency Forestry Plans for the Pic River and Big Pic Forests
An information centre was held on May 4, 2016 in Manitouwadge to view the proposed operations for the 2017-2019 contingency plans for both the Pic River Forest and the Big Pic Forests. According to an MNR posting, the contingency plan was “required to align forest management schedules for the Pic River and Big Pic Forests in advance of the amalgamation of these forests”

MNR Drops Changes to Regulations for Wolf and Coyote Hunt
The Ministry of Natural Resources has announced that it is dropping proposed changes to wolf and coyote hunting regulations after receiving over 12 thousand comments (MNR said “many” were opposed) and three petitions opposing the proposal with over 200,000 signatures combined. The proposed changes would have removed the requirement for “game seals” for wolves, allowing them to be hunted under a small game licence, and removed the limits on numbers of coyotes killed in hunts in northern Ontario.  Read Decision
Conservation Authorities Review
A four month review of the Conservation Authorities Act is underway, with a comment period ending September 9th. The review is considering roles, responsibilities, funding and governance of conservation authorities in resource management and environmental protection, and is a followup to an earlier consultation on a discussion document entitled Conserving Our Future: Proposed Priorities for Renewal. View the EBR Posting to comment by September 9th, 2016
Glencore Has Until 2022 to Meet New Limit for Nickel in Air Emissions
In October 2014, Glencore requested a substitution of air quality standards for their operations in Falconbridge, According to the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) "the regulation aims to limit exposure to substances released into air that can affect human health and the environment, while allowing industry to operate responsibly under a set of rules that are publicly transparent." 
MOE has determined that it is feasible for Glencore to achieve a maximum level of 0.066 micrograms per cubic metre (annual averaging period) through technology upgrades. On December 21st MOE released it's decision: the current limit of  0.15 micrograms per cubic metre (annual average) will stay in place until 2022, at which point a limit of  0.066 micrograms per cubic metre will come into effect. 
A regulation requiring companies to apply for a plan or permit prior to undertaking mineral exploration came into effect in April 2013. Ontario’s Ministry of Northern Development and Mines (MNDM) has been conducting a review of Regulation 308/12, for several months, and a proposed revision to the exploration regulation had been expected to be released for public comment early in 2016, but has been delayed. If you would like to be involved in this review, please email Northwatch.
Northwatch founding member and mentor Ed Burt can add "published author" to his list of many accomplishments. As reported in the Manitoulin Expositor, Ed’s vegetable raising skills are legendary on Manitoulin—not surprising since he first learned the art and science of gardening at the foot of his grandfather 82 years ago at the age of five— and a lot of the knowledge he has acquired over the years is contained in his new book, ‘My Journey in the Garden: Ed Burt’s Way of Growing Food.’ The book was launched at the Green Living Expo in Kagawong April 22..
Is There Mineral Exploration Happening Near You?
Tell us what you see! We'd like to hear about your experience and observations of mineral exploration in your area. Please take a few minutes to fill in our on-line survey to share your observations. 
Political barriers stand in the way of Northern Ontario independence, but there are alternative governance models for the region, says a report released in April by Northern Policy Institute. Dr. David Robinson, Laurentian University economics professor, says Northern Ontario may not be able to explore full provincial status, but there are other potential structures that fall within the power of the provincial legislature. READ MORE
The Government of Canada is asking for your thoughts on how to address climate change. Here are a few starting points: say no to the Energy East project, stop tar sands expansion. Have your say on climate change
Ontario passed climate change legislation in-mid May that they say lays the foundation for an Ontario cap and trade program, but have yet to release their climate change action plan. A report said they planned to phase out the use of natural gas for home heating as part of the plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but the Liberal government has subsequently said they will not ban the use of natural gas for home heating
Nuclear Waste Company Continues Investigation of Sites in Northern Ontario
With no reports on investigations of candidate sites in northern Ontario published in over a year by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization, concerned residents are left to rely on word of mouth or scant media reports for updates on NWMO proddings into "potentially suitable areas" or candidate sites associated with each of HornepayneManitouwdgeWhite River and Ignace, Blind River and Elliot Lake. The sites total 310,321 hectares (310 square kilometres or 767,000 acres) of public or "crown" land withdrawn at the request of the NWMO. 
Last summer a Northwatch team spent time in each of the six northern municipalities holding informal meetings or hosting public workshops, as well as visiting the majority of the candidate areas as an early step in developing a profile and values and use inventory for each area. A followup tour is planned for the spring-summer-fall of 2016.  To host a 2016 workhsop, film or speaker or to contribute to the inventory Northwatch is assembling for each of the "candidate" areas,  please get in touch by email or call  Northwatch at 705 497 0373.
Federal Environment Minister Puts Hold on Nuclear Waste Dump
Ontario Power Generation Must Do Additional Studies
Ottawa – Federal minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna issued directions to Ontario Power Generation in mid-February to carry out additional studies to support their request for an approval of a controversial plan to bury radioactive wastes right beside Lake Huron. The Minister has determined that more information is required before she can make an environmental assessment decision. READ NORTHWATCH NEWS RELEASE
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