Uranium Mining in Cottage Country
|download FMLA July 01 2009 response to Ministry of Northern Development and Mines||
FMLA Submits Comments re Ontario's Proposed Changes to the Mining Act
As mentioned at the AGM last Sunday, the FMLA has now submitted its comments to the Ontario government re proposed changes to the Mining Act.
Our concerns are basically to make sure that any potential mining exploration/activity on crown land in Southern Ontario be subject to the guidelines under the Planning Act and Environmental Assessment Act (as is currently the case for any other type of land use activity in the City of Kawartha Lakes).
Date: Thu, 25 Jun 2009 09:11:48 -0400
The amendments have been posted on The Environmental Registry as posting 010-6559 and the deadline for public comment is July 4, 2009. The web address for the Environmental registry, where you can record your comments is: www.ebr.gov.on.ca.
FOCA has participated in the Mining Act review process for several years through our representation on the Ministerís Mining Act Advisory Committee and we will continue to represent the interests of cottagers. However it is also important that individual cottagers and associations tell the government directly what they expect from the revised Mining Act.
At the present time Uranium exploration is of great concern to cottagers in the Shabot Lake area of eastern Ontario and in the Gooderham/Bancroft area of Haliburton. Destructive exploration activities have occurred and been documented on private land and on crown lands abutting private properties. There is a good website established by the group Fight Uranium Mining (FUME) which documents the experiences and concerns of cottagers in those areas at www.fighturanium.com.
There was also a good article on this subject in the May 2009 issue of Cottage Life Magazine (http://www.cottagelife.com/index.cfm/ci_id/19198/la_id/1.htm).
The Proposed Amendments
The proposed amendments, which are well documented on the EBR posting, appear to address the issue of landowners in southern Ontario who own their surface rights but not their mining rights by automatically withdrawing these lands from mineral staking. In northern Ontario landowners of such lands will be able to apply to have their lands withdrawn from staking. Unfortunately these provisions do not apply to lands which are already under active claims such as those in the uranium exploration areas around Gooderham and Shabot lake.
WHAT STILL NEEDS TO BE CHANGED
In FOCAís view the two most serious omissions from the proposed amendments to the Mining Act relate to the role of municipalities and municipal plans, and the lack of environmental assessment.
The Role of Municipalities
In Ontario, Municipal Official Plans do not apply to Crown Land and therefore municipalities have no say over what happens on crown lands within their areas and mining exploration can occur right up to the property lines of private land holders with no municipal input. This means that in areas like Haliburton where over many decades the economy has been transformed from mining and forestry based to tourism, recreation and cottage based, the municipalities still have no say with respect to future mining exploration and mine development. Residents have been shocked to find crown land adjoining and near their private lands staked and then subject to destructive exploration activity while their local municipalities have no control over what is happening. FOCA believes that it is in the interests of all cottagers to urge the government to bring all crown lands, at least in Southern Ontario, under the Planning Act to ensure that municipal plans and zoning will apply to these lands and that residents will have the same land use protections they have with respect to developments on private lands.
Mineral exploration activities and mine development can have major environmental impacts and yet mining activity in Ontario remains exempt from the Environmental Assessment Act. The proposed amendments include new provisions related to exploration plans and exploration permits as well as reference to rehabilitation of exploration sites. But the details of these provisions will not be spelled out until the regulations are written after the final passage of the amendments. FOCA is concerned that the new regulations must be explicit to identify and mitigate impacts which affect private property owners and crown lands that that are regularly used for recreation purposes. FOCA beliemineral exploration activities to be subject to serious environmental review and that all mine development must be brought under the Environmental Assessment Act.
WHAT CAN ASSOCIATIONS AND INDIVIDUALS DO?
1. You can record comments on the EBR posting until July 4, 2009.
2. Over the summer you can contact to your local members of the provincial government. In contacting members of the Ontario Legislature remember to contact both your cottage representative and your home representatives (http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/go2.jsp?locale=en&Page=/members/members_main&menuItem=mpps_header).
Many cottage country MPPs are well aware of these issues and already representing our concerns. But urban representatives, who hold the vast majority of votes in the legislature and in the government caucus, are less likely to be familiar with the issues and may be surprised to learn that crown lands in cottage country are not covered by municipal plans, and that environmental review and environmental assessment do not automatically apply to mining activities, be sue to let them know that these issues are a concern to you.
[above letter received from FOCA on June 25, 2009]