Trapped on McNabb Street - by MNR! (2 photos)Monday, July 16, 2012 by: Rick McGee
Mobile traps formerly used to capture and relocate "nuisance" bears aren't doing much of anything these days.
Photos accompanying this article show once-busy cages now trapped themselves - under lock and key at the Ministry of Natural Resources' McNabb Street facility.
The ministry stopped trapping bears this spring.
The move, officials said, wasn’t related to funding cuts.
MNR spending for the current fiscal year is estimated to be around $751.8 million, down from just over $765.3 million in 2011-12.
Minister of Natural Resources Michael Gravelle has confirmed that expenditures will fall by $70 million over a three-year period.
The anticipated fallout raises questions about reduced MNR services and a diminished ministry workforce in the North.
Some close to the scene claim that MNR has never recovered from deep cuts made during the Harris years.
More chopping will only compound the situation, they say.
Even before the current trimming, Ontario’s environmental watchdog had reported that MNR lacked the resources needed to do its job.
Consultant's report elaborated on problems
Don Drummond, the economist the McGuinty government hired to help fix its deep financial problems and reform the public sector, reviewed related issues in his report.
“Most responsibility for protecting the province’s environmental and natural heritage falls to two ministries: the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) and Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR),” Drummond wrote.
“As recently noted by the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, the core business of these two ministries has become much more complex since their inception. And though they must deal with expanding responsibilities that address entirely new environmental issues, their overall capacity - financial resources, staffing levels and in-house expertise - has not kept pace.
“A new paradigm for environmental and natural resource programs and services is desperately needed, shaped by factors of both supply and demand. On the supply side, the fiscal restraint we recommend in this report will further limit the funding available to meet these ministries’ legislated and policy-driven obligations.
“At the same time, demand for continued oversight of environmental approvals, compliance and natural resource stewardship is set to rise. For example, development of the Ring of Fire (an area of northern Ontario with potentially large deposits of valuable minerals such as chromite, nickel, copper and platinum) will put added stress on the approval and compliance resources of several provincial ministries. It will also demand greater collaboration among provincial ministries and other levels of government. In addition, increased demand for renewable energy will place further pressure on the province’s approvals and compliance processes, such as the Renewable Energy Approvals (REAs) that directly support the province’s Green Energy and Green Economy Act.”
Drummond goes on to note that “transformational changes are needed” and offers recommendations.
Expect to hear a lot about 'transformation'
Meanwhile, those at the top in MNR tout “transformation initiatives" that point to “A Strong Future Outlook."
According to MNR’s website: “By 2025, we plan for Ontario to be home of a transformed, globally competitive and market driven forest industry that creates diverse wood and bioproducts and is a cornerstone of the province’s green economy.
“The ever-changing forest industry has a promising future, according to government, industry, and institutional experts. There is a strong future outlook for lumber, with sawmills as the cornerstone of the forest products sector producing lumber and by-products upon which the pulp and paper, value-added wood products and emerging bioenergy segments depend."
The section goes on to note, in part: “Pulp and paper mills will transform into biorefineries, i.e., act as chemical refiners creating fuels, other forms of energy, pulp, and chemicals (including petrochemical substitutes). The production of pellets and cogeneration of heat and electrical power is the first phase in the development of bioenergy production."
Additional articles will follow.