Forestry is a way of life for my community. Being Mayor of the Town of Hearst I am quite concerned by the ESA policy and its repercussion on my community. Hearst's main industry is related the forest. More than 1000 workers rely on a robust industry to provide for their families. Any loss of wood supply will result in mill closures and loss of jobs. For close to a century, Hearst lives at the beat of the forest industry. We have overcome many economic downturn with some mill closures and jobs loss but being resilient has ensured up that we are still standing. We have been voicing our concerns regarding the ESA for more than 10 years. We have not been consulted, our First Nations neighbors Constance Lake were not consulted and neither did the practitioners in our community.
I would like to take this opportunity to indicated that where the government has proposed a 2-year extension, we ask that you reconsider it and instead provide a 5-year extension. As you are aware, this policy is complex and cannot be rushed. We need the time to ensure that the impacts of climate change on habitat and that the cumulative impacts of all the ESA policy on the communities and their forest sector are better understood. And furthermore, that a socio-economic impact analysis be conducted for every single ESA policy impacting the forest sector in Ontario.
Also, I am very happy to see that the government has decided to establish an independent Panel. However, the composition of the panel must reflect the representation of the people who are most impacted by the ESA policies. First nations, practitioners, municipal representations to name a few must be at the table. Also, as you are aware, under Section 35 of the Constitution, the Crown has a duty to consult and accommodate. Therefore, the MRNF must fulfill a duty to consult with the First Nations.
Time is of essence and I urge the government to make a final decision on this before March 30th 2018.
[Original Comment ID: 212318]
Submitted February 13, 2018 2:35 PM