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Wild Animal Law of Canada

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Park-Related Acts (Ontario)

(current to 15 September 2016)
Note Re Application of the:
  • Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act
  • Wilderness Areas Act
  • Conservation Land Act
  • Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act
These laws bears on the wildlife issues of:
  • PROTECTION
  • HABITAT
  • HUNTING, TRAPPING AND FISHING
The full current text of these statutes and their regulations may be viewed at the Ontario statute website.

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Table of Contents
1. Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act ('PPCRA')
(a) Purposes and Principles of the Parks and Reserves System
(b) Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Designated
(c) Protections and Prohibitions
(d) Enforcement
2. Wilderness Areas Act ('WAA')
3. Conservation Lands Act
4. Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act ('LRIA')
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1. Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act ('PPCRA')

(a) Purposes and Principles of the Parks and Reserves System

The purpose of the provincial parks ('parks') and conservation reserves ('reserves') system is to permanently protect "ecosystems that are representative of all of Ontario’s natural regions, protects provincially significant elements of Ontario’s natural and cultural heritage, maintains biodiversity and provides opportunities for compatible, ecologically sustainable recreation" [PPCRA 1].

With respect to parks the specific objectives, as they relate to wild animals, include to [PPCRA 2(1)]:
  • "permanently protect representative ecosystems, biodiversity and provincially significant elements of Ontario’s natural and cultural heritage and to manage these areas to ensure that ecological integrity is maintained";

  • "provide opportunities for ecologically sustainable outdoor recreation opportunities and encourage associated economic benefits";

  • "provide opportunities for residents of Ontario and visitors to increase their knowledge and appreciation of Ontario’s natural and cultural heritage";

  • "facilitate scientific research and to provide points of reference to support monitoring of ecological change on the broader landscape."
With respect to reserves the specific objectives, as they relate to wild animals, include [PPCRA 2(2)]:
  • "permanently protect representative ecosystems, biodiversity and provincially significant elements of Ontario’s natural and cultural heritage and to manage these areas to ensure that ecological integrity is maintained";

  • "provide opportunities for ecologically sustainable land uses, including traditional outdoor heritage activities and associated economic benefits";

  • "facilitate scientific research and to provide points of reference to support monitoring of ecological change on the broader landscape."
In furthering these objectives, planning and management shall be guided by the principles that maintenance of ecological integrity shall be the first priority, and that restoring ecological integrity shall be considered [PPCRA 3]. For these purposes, 'ecological integrity' means "a condition in which biotic and abiotic components of ecosystems and the composition and abundance of native species and biological communities are characteristic of their natural regions and rates of change and ecosystem processes are unimpeded" and it include, but is not limited to [PPCRA 5(2,3)]:
  • "healthy and viable populations of native species, including species at risk, and maintenance of the habitat on which the species depend";

  • "levels of air and water quality consistent with protection of biodiversity and recreational enjoyment".
(b) Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Designated

Ontario's website for provincial parks and conservation reserves is linked here: Ontario's Parks and Protected Areas.

There are six classes of parks, as follows, with the noted objectives [PPCRA 8]:
  • Wilderness Class Parks

    To protect large areas where the forces of nature can exist freely and visitors travel by non-mechanized means, while engaging in low-impact recreation to experience solitude, challenge and integration with nature.

  • Nature Reserve Class Parks

    To protect representative ecosystems and provincially significant elements of Ontario’s natural heritage, including distinctive natural habitats and landforms, for their intrinsic value, to support scientific research and to maintain biodiversity

  • Cultural Heritage Class Parks

    To protect elements of Ontario’s distinctive cultural heritage in open space settings for their intrinsic value and to support interpretation, education and research.

  • Natural Environment Class Parks

    To protect outstanding recreational landscapes, representative ecosystems and provincially significant elements of Ontario’s natural and cultural heritage and to provide high quality recreational and educational experiences

  • Waterway Class Parks

    To protect recreational water routes and representative and significant terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and associated natural and cultural features and to provide high quality recreational and educational experiences.

  • Recreational Class Parks

    To provide a wide variety of compatible outdoor recreation opportunities in attractive natural surroundings.
(c) Protections and Prohibitions

The following prohibitions and protections apply to provincial parks and conservation reserves:
  • all uses of park and reserve land are prohibited unless expressly authorized by the PPCRA, it's regulations, or a license or permit issued thereunder [PPCRA 13(2)];

  • hunting is only allowed in parks if expressly provided for by under Part XIV (Hunting in Provincial Parks and on Designated Crown Land) of the Hunting Regulation made under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1997 (see the FWCA module) [PPCRA 15(1), FWCA 9];

  • hunting in reserves is allowed unless expressly otherwise prohibited [PPCRA 15(3)];

  • with some exeptions for grand-parented activities, the following are prohibited in parks and reserves: (1) commercial timber harvest (except Algonquin Provincial Park), (2) generation of electricity, (3) prospecting, staking mining claims, developing mineral interests or working mines, (4) extracting aggregate, topsoil or peat, and (5) other industrial uses [PPCRA 16(1),18-19];

  • the Minister (of Natural Resources) may take such measures as they consider proper for the protection in a provincial park or a conservation reserve of fish, wildlife and invertebrates [PPCRA 34(1)];

  • no person shall without written authorization "disturb, cut, kill, remove or harm any plant, tree or natural object" in a provincial park or a conservation reservice [PPG Regs 2(2)(a); Conservation Reserve General Regulations ('CRG Regs') 2(2)(a)];

  • no person shall "disturb, kill, remove, harass or harm any animal except in accordance with the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1997, any bird except in accordance with the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 (Canada) or any fish except in accordance with the Fisheries Act (Canada)" [PPG Regs 2(2)(b); CRG Regs 2(2)(b)] (see those modules);

  • domestic animals ["a horse, a dog or any other animal that is kept under human control either by habit or training and lives in association with human beings": PPG Regs 1(1)] must be leashed and otherwise restricted as posted [PPG Regs 6];

  • domestic animals shall not be permitted to chase or harass wildlife or birds in a park [PPG Regs 6(4)];

  • it is prohibited to introduce into, or possess, in a provincial park "any plant, animal or other living thing, or any object, material or other substance, that may carry non-native or invasive pests or species" [PPG Regs 7];

  • it is prohibited to "bring an animal or plant into a conservation reserve and cause or permit it to establish habitat, residence or roots unless the conservation reserve manager authorizes it in writing on the basis that the ecological integrity of the conservation reserve will not be compromised by doing so" [CRG Regs 5(1)].
(d) Enforcement

The PPCRA has the typical array of enforcement powers, including: the appointment of enforcement 'officers' with standard peace officer authorities of entry, inspection, search and seizure, and arrest [PPCRA 37,40-44]. Additionally, it contains a broad offence provision to facilitate prosecution of PPCRA violations [PPCRA 46].


2. Wilderness Areas Act ('WAA')

Under the Wilderness Areas Act ('WAA') the provincial Cabinet may designate any Crown lands as a wilderness area "for the preservation of the area as nearly as may be in its natural state in which research and educational activities may be carried on, for the protection of the flora and fauna, for the improvement of the area, having regard to its historical, aesthetic, scientific or recreational value" [WAA 1].

Specific wilderness areas are designated in theWilderness Areas Regulation.

The Minister has authority to "take such measures as he or she considers proper for the protection in wilderness areas of fish, wildlife and invertebrates" [WAA 5].


3. Conservation Lands Act

The Conservation Lands Act is Ontario's conservation easement statute. It sanctions and facilitates the voluntary imposition on privately-owned lands ('conservation land') of pro-conservation restrictions, with such restrictions being held as enforceable rights by a 'conservation body' holder such as the Crown, a municipality, a charitable NGO or a 'conservation authority' [CLA 3(1,6)].

The nature of restrictions which can be included in such easements include those [CLA 3(2)]:
  • for the conservation, maintenance, restoration or enhancement of all or a portion of the land or the wildlife on the land;

  • for the protection of water quality and quantity, including protection of drinking water sources;

  • for watershed protection and management.
For these purposes, 'conservation land' includes "wetland, areas of natural and scientific interest, land within the Niagara Escarpment Planning Area, conservation authority land and such other land owned by non-profit organizations that through their management contribute to provincial conservation and heritage program objectives" [CLA 1]. The Minister of Natural Resources may establish programs to "recognize, encourage and support the stewardship of conservation land", including the issuance of grant funds [CLA 2].

Once the easements are registered on title, the restrictions 'run with the land' in the event that the land is sold, and so survive as duties owned by the new owner [CLA 3(2.1,5)].


4. Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act ('LRIA')

The Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act ('LRIA') is a statutory attempt to balance the conflicting interests of the environment, and some public and private users of lakes and rivers, against each other. To this end, it's purposes are stated as being [LRAI 2]:
  • the management, protection, preservation and use of the waters of the lakes and rivers of Ontario and the land under them;

  • the protection and equitable exercise of public rights in or over the waters of the lakes and rivers of Ontario;

  • the protection of the interests of riparian owners (owners of abutting land);

  • the management, perpetuation and use of the fish, wildlife and other natural resources dependent on the lakes and rivers;

  • the protection of the natural amenities of the lakes and rivers and their shores and banks; and

  • the protection of persons and of property by ensuring that dams are suitably located, constructed, operated and maintained and are of an appropriate nature with regard to the above purposes.
Typical instances of conflicting uses which the LRIA is intended to address include damming of rivers (for which Ministerial approvals are required: LRIA 14), and use of rivers for dumping materials (eg. to transport logs in forestry operations) [LRIA 36].



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