MP Kramp’s announcement re Prince Edward Point: What does it mean?
On November 14, 2014, MP Daryl Kramp announced federal funds available to 10 national wildlife areas including Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area (NWA; 520 hectares on the eastern end of Prince Edward Point), for educational and capital projects, such as improving public access. Doing the math, if all are considered equal, that will be about $150,000 for each area for each of 5 years. The federal interest and investment in this area is exciting. Will the 38 proposed turbines adjacent to the area be constructed and make the gesture meaningless.
Mr. Kramp’s website, as well as that of Environment Canada (EC), states that National Wildlife Areas “… are an effective tool for promoting biodiversity and protecting habitat for species at risk. More than 300 species of birds have been recorded on Prince Edward Point including songbirds, waterfowl, owls and hawks. There is no other location on the Canadian side of Lake Ontario where birds are known to occur in such high densities during migration. Approximately 23 federally-listed species at risk have been recorded within the natural wildlife area, including the Whip-poor-will and Red-headed Woodpecker. The area provides respite during migration and is also a breeding habitat.”
In the announcement, Mr. Kramp said “It was a piece of the puzzle …… step to designate the south shore.” His website says “Improvements to Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area will enhance public access while protecting this area’s unique natural heritage.”
The south shore of PEC is designated an Important Bird Area (IBA), is a proposed Area of National Scientific Interest (ANSI), fulfills the criteria of National and Regional Ecological Sensitivity Criteria, and EC list it as a Level 4 Category of Concern. Although the south shore has at least as many migratory birds as Point Pelee, only the latter is protected from industrial development by being a Ramsar Convention Site, Biosphere Reserve, and a National Park.
Can we hope that this area, through a designation such as that of Point Pelee, will soon actually be formally protected from industry such as industrial turbine projects that threaten the wildlife species that inhabit and migrate over the area? Such a designation would answer some of the questions we posed in a letter to Environment Canada (EC) September of this year [for full letter click here]:
- As EC is responsible for implementing the Endangered Species Act, what role does EC have in the protection of this area from the industrial development planned? What is the status of the Recovery Strategy, action plan and management plan regarding the ESA for the PEC area/Great Lakes Basin?
- EC describes the PEC south shore as “now the largest and most important area of grassland in the Northeast, providing habitat for such species as Henslow’s Sparrow and Bobolink. … also is extremely important to stopover migrants… As EC is responsible for implementing the Migratory Bird Convention Act, what role does EC have in the protection of this area from the industrial development planned? What is the status of the Conservation Strategy for the PEC area/Great Lakes Basin (part of Region 13)?
- Canadian Wildlife Services’ guidance document Wind Turbines and Birds lists 11 criteria of a site where turbines should not be sited – all are met by the south shore of PEC. As CWS has stated that turbines should not be placed in such an area, what role does EC have in the protection of this area from the industrial development planned?
- No cumulative effect assessments to consider other proposed and existing wind turbines have been performed, although the industrial turbines are lining the north side of the Great Lakes Basin. As the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency [CEAA] requires a full cumulative effect assessment for the area, what role will EC take in the protection of this area from the industrial development planned?
- The provincial Technical Guide for Renewable Energy Approvals indicates that applicants with wind facilities with the potential to impact migratory birds must inform EC. As wpd was required to inform EC of the White Pine project, and Gilead should (but did not) address the comments given by EC that relate to federal jurisdiction (migration, federal species at risk), what role will EC take in the protection of this area from the industrial development planned?
- What role does EC have in imposing the requirements of the Canadian Wildlife Service for offshore wind turbines for the protection of this area from the industrial development planned?
- EC is the lead agency on the International Convention on Biological Diversity, yet it gives less protection of its Important Bird Areas than most European and some African countries. What action will EC take in preserving biodiversity from the industrial development planned on migratory pathways? Can such areas be established as protected areas in a rapid timeframe?