Twenty tadpoles, five common garter snakes or a single duck nest would be enough to define land as “significant wildlife habitat” in need of protection from development under strict new Ontario standards.
And protected sites could demand special treatment (such as not cutting trees or building roads) for hundreds of metres in all directions, up to a kilometre all around in the case of bat caves.
They apply in urban and rural development alike.
They are in addition to existing protection for significant wetlands, or areas with rare or threatened species such as butternut trees or bobolinks.
The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources says the changes are just extra criteria to fill gaps in existing wildlife protection rules. They would apply to new developments such as subdivisions, commercial construction or wind turbines, not to smaller projects such as renovating a house.
“The draft document on Significant Wildlife Habitat was posted on a provincial website in the spring, but attracted little notice. It is on the Environmental Registry website, reference number 011-5740. The period for comments is closed.”
If you arrive at the conclusion that the Ministry has lost it’s collective mind (which it apparently has) here is where you can complain. Have fun.