The Ministry of Transportation - Permit for activities to achieve an overall benefit to a species

Instrument type: Permit for activities to achieve an overall benefit to a species

ERO number
019-5295
Ministry reference number
CN-C-007-21
Notice type
Instrument
Act
Endangered Species Act , R.S.O. 2007
Posted by
Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
Notice stage
Decision
Decision posted
Comment period
April 29, 2022 - May 29, 2022 (30 days) Closed
Last updated

There is no requirement to post this notice on the Environmental Registry of Ontario, but we wanted to hear your thoughts. Thank you for your feedback.

This consultation was open from:
April 29, 2022
to May 29, 2022

Decision summary

The Minister has issued an overall benefit permit to the Ministry of Transportation concerning Little Brown Myotis, Northern Myotis and Tri-colored Bat and their habitats in order to accommodate the widening of Highway 400 between Kind Road and Lloydtown-Aurora Road. The permit includes actions to benefit the species and minimize adverse effects.

Location details

Site location details

The stretch of Highway 400 between King Road and Lloydtown-Aurora Road in the Township of King, York Region, Ontario.

Site location map

The location pin reflects the approximate area where environmental activity is taking place.

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Proponent(s)

The Ministry of Transportation
Downsview Office
159 Sir William Heart Avenue
Toronto, ON
M3M 0B7
Canada

Decision details

On September 30, 2022, the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks issued an overall benefit permit to the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) under subsection 17(1) of the Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA), in accordance with the criteria in clause 17(2)(c) of that Act. The permit is concerning:

The permit authorizes the MTO to remove 2.98 hectares (ha) of forest habitat for the species.

Habitat for the species is made up of several non-contiguous forest patches, which amounts to 2.98 ha in total.

No mortality, harm or harassment are expected to occur given the mitigation measures included in the permit.

Protecting species under the Endangered Species Act

Our government is committed to protecting species at risk and providing strong environmental oversight, while working to support development opportunities in the province.

Businesses, municipalities and other proponents are expected to take steps to ensure their projects avoid any adverse impacts on species at risk or their habitats. However, where avoidance is not possible, the Endangered Species Act, 2007 gives the Minister the discretion to authorize activities if certain conditions can be met.

The permit includes conditions that require the proponent to undertake measures that will:

  • minimize adverse effects to the species
  • achieve an overall benefit to the species within a reasonable timeframe

Actions to minimize adverse effects to species

The permit requires MTO to carry out actions to minimize adverse effects on the species, including:

  • removing habitat at a time of year when the species is unlikely to be present (i.e., outside of the active season)

Actions to achieve an overall benefit to the Species

The permit requires MTO to achieve an overall benefit for the species within a reasonable timeframe, including:

  • actively managing (i.e., watering, tending and replacing trees and shrubs) 4 hectares (ha) of newly planted forested habitat within the Oak Ridges Conservation Reserve for at least ten (10) years, until the newly forested area is well established, and
  • installing eleven (11) anthropogenic roosting structures (i.e., bat boxes) both offsite within Toronto Region Conservation Authority lands and within the project area.

Other information

Reasonable alternatives were considered, including alternatives that would not adversely affect the species, such as:

  • narrowing the project footprint to avoid forested habitat for the species:
  • this option presented technical and safety challenges as it would require steeper highway embankments and likely also steel guardrails
  • this option was not preferred due to safety concerns
  • not proceeding with the broader highway widening project and instead diverting traffic to other roads or expanding public transit:
  • the proponent indicated diverting traffic to other roads would likely require upgrades to existing infrastructure elsewhere, some of which may adversely impact species at risk
  • improvements to public transit alone were not likely to address congestion challenges due to the diverse origins and destinations of highway users

The best alternative that would allow MTO to proceed with the project is to:

  • reduce the anticipated area of impact from 3.2 to 2.98 ha of habitat for the species
  • take steps to minimize adverse impacts and create new forest habitat for the species

The ministry has published a government response statement (GRS) under section 12.1 of the Endangered Species Act, 2007 with respect to Little Brown Myotis, Northern Myotis and Tri-colored Bat. The permit reflects the following commitments in the GRS these Species:

  • coordinating and conducting standard inventory and monitoring of populations in historic, current, and potentially inhabited locations, including monitoring species’ population trends, distribution, threats, habitat preferences and prevalence of use; and
  • encouraging the submission of data to the central repository at the Natural Heritage Information Centre.

Comments received

Through the registry

2

By email

0

By mail

0
View comments submitted through the registry

Effects of consultation

Two comments were received in response to the proposal:

  • one comment did not support the habitat being removed
  • the other comment expressed concern that work had already started on the highway widening project before a permit was issued

These comments did not result in any changes to the permit.

In response to the comment about work starting before the permit was issued, the proponent has confirmed no habitat impacts will occur before the permit is issued.

Supporting materials

View materials in person

Some supporting materials may not be available online. If this is the case, you can request to view the materials in person.

Get in touch with the office listed below to find out if materials are available.

Species at Risk Branch
Address

300 Water Street
5th Floor, North tower
Peterborough, ON
K9J 8M5
Canada

Office phone number

How to Appeal

Appeals are not allowed

This instrument type cannot be appealed. Learn more about our consultation process.

Connect with us

Contact

Clairissa Myschowoda

Phone number
Office
Species at Risk Branch - Permissions
Address

300 Water Street
4th Floor, South tower
Peterborough, ON
K9J 3C7
Canada

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Follow this notice

Original proposal

ERO number
019-5295
Ministry reference number
CN-C-007-21
Notice type
Instrument
Act
Endangered Species Act , R.S.O. 2007
Posted by
Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
Proposal posted

Comment period

April 29, 2022 - May 29, 2022 (30 days)

Why consultation isn't required

We are not required to consult on this permit proposal as it relates to an animal and therefore does not meet the required criteria set out in subsection 1.3(6) of Ontario Regulation 681/94 of the Environmental Bill of Rights,1993. We are voluntarily posting this notice to advise the public of this proposal and to invite the public to submit written comments to the contact person identified in this notice.

Proposal details

The MTO is seeking an overall benefit permit under clause 17(2)(c) of the Endangered Species Act, 2007. The permit would authorize impacts to three species at risk bats that may occur in widening two sections of Highway 400, from six to ten lanes, along the stretch of highway between King Road and Lloydtown-Aurora Road

Project activities are expected to include:

  • vegetation removal (including trees)
  • site grading
  • installing additional lanes of paved road

Approximately 2.98 hectares of habitat of the following three species at risk bats is expected to be adversely impacted by the project:

Habitat for the species that is anticipated to be impacted is made up of several non-contiguous forested patches.

Protecting species under the Endangered Species Act

The Ontario government is committed to protecting species at risk and providing strong environmental oversight, while working to support development opportunities in the province.

Ontario provides protections for species at risk and their habitats under the Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA). Sections 9 and 10 of the ESA provide protection for individual members of a species and their habitat if that species is listed on the Species at Risk in Ontario (SARO) list as either:

  • extirpated
  • endangered
  • threatened

Little Brown Myotis, Northern Myotis and Tri-colored Bat are all listed as Endangered on the SARO list.

The main threat to the survival of these three species is disease resulting from a fungal infection, also known as white-nosed syndrome.

Under clause 17(2)(c) of the ESA, the Minister may issue a permit authorizing a person to engage in an activity that would otherwise be prohibited by sections 9 or 10 of the ESA if the minister believes that:

  • an overall benefit to the species will be achieved within a reasonable time through the conditions of the permit
  • reasonable alternatives have been considered, including alternatives that would not negatively affect the species, and the best alternative has been adopted
  • reasonable steps to minimize negative effects on individual members of the species are required by conditions of the permit

Providing an overall benefit to a protected species under the ESA means improving circumstances for the species in Ontario. Overall benefit is:

  • more than "no net loss" or an exchange of "like for like"
  • grounded in the protection and recovery of the species at risk
  • more than mitigation measures or "replacing" what is lost

Actions to achieve an overall benefit to species

The MTO is seeking ways to provide an overall benefit to the species, including:

  • creating new forested habitat within the Oak Ridges Conservation Corridor Reserve
  • installing anthropogenic roosting structures (i.e. bat rocket boxes) both offsite and within the project area.

This is expected to:

  • provide new, contiguous suitable habitat for the species
  • support additional roosting opportunities in the anthropogenic roosting structures

Reasonable alternatives being considered

The MTO has explored other alternatives, including those that would not adversely impact the species.

The MTO considered narrowing the project footprint to avoid forested habitat for the species. However, this option presented technical and safety challenges as it would require steeper highway embankments and likely also steel guardrails. This option was not preferred due to safety concerns.

The MTO considered not proceeding with the broader highway widening project, and instead, diverting traffic to other roads or expanding public transit. The MTO indicated that:

  • diverting traffic to other roads would likely require upgrades to existing infrastructure elsewhere, some of which may adversely impact species at risk
  • improvements to public transit alone were not likely to address congestion challenges due to the diverse origins and destinations of highway users

The MTO has concluded the best alternative is to proceed with the project using a final design proposal which has been refined to reduce the anticipated area of impact from 3.2 to 2.98 ha of habitat for the species.

Actions to minimize adverse effects on the species

The MTO is seeking ways to minimize adverse effects on the species and their habitat, including:

  • reducing the anticipated area of impact by 0.22 ha
  • undertaking habitat removal at a time of year when the species is unlikely to be present (i.e. outside of the active season)
  • revegetating approximately half (i.e. 1.47 ha) of the forested habitat that will be removed with native vegetation

Other information

A government response statement (GRS), which outlines protection and recovery actions the government will take and support, exists for:

The GRS will be considered before a decision is made on whether to issue a permit.

Posting this proposal on the Environmental Registry of Ontario does not imply that we will issue a permit. A permit may only be issued where the legal requirements set out in clause 17(2)(c) of the Endangered Species Act, 2007 have been satisfied.

More information on species at risk overall benefit permits.

Supporting materials

View materials in person

Some supporting materials may not be available online. If this is the case, you can request to view the materials in person.

Get in touch with the office listed below to find out if materials are available.

Comment

Commenting is now closed.

This consultation was open from April 29, 2022
to May 29, 2022

Connect with us

Contact

Clairissa Myschowoda

Phone number
Office
Species at Risk Branch - Permissions
Address

300 Water Street
4th Floor, South tower
Peterborough, ON
K9J 3C7
Canada