C-38 and your new dock

May 6, 2012

Keith Ashfield in a speech in the House of Commons on May 3, 2012 made the following comments:

We would clarify situations where development poses the highest risk to fish and fish habitat and those areas of limited risk. We would establish a new framework, in conjunction with stakeholders, to make it easier for people to comply with the Fisheries Act while working in or near water. This would include identifying classes of low-risk work, such as installing a cottage dock, and classes of water where project reviews would not be required. For medium-risk projects, standards would be established allowing Canadians much-needed clarity while they carry out those projects.

Ashfield’s comments sound reasonable as such comments often do. What worries me is not the shift of focus toward allowing cottagers to put their docks in with less restriction, but the apparent removal of regulation from ditches and flood plains, the source of the majority of pollution to enter the fisheries system. From a cursory reading of the debate it looks to me as though farmers will no longer be held accountable for runoff from their fields (fertilizer, pesticides) unless there are actually fish in the ditch.

Pesticides are the major pollutant in fish in the Rideau Waterway. Allowing the market to decide whether a farmer cleans his sprayer in a puddle next to a ditch (Roundup is expensive, eh?) doesn’t seem o.k. to me.

More research is needed here. Please feel free to offer clarifications as comments.

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