How can Ontario best approach the development of the mineral-rich Ring of Fire in the Far North of Ontario? How do we protect the millions of tonnes of carbon stored in peatlands and forests in the area? How do we intelligently design infrastructure to ensure maximum benefit and minimum impact on ecosystems?
If new mining projects and all-weather roads are to be accepted by First Nations communities and others who care about the future of the region, they will need to be planned in ways that ensure they contribute to a more sustainable future. The current piecemeal business-as-usual planning approaches only engage some communities and leave those facing downstream impacts out in the cold. Similarly, conventional project assessments do a poor job of considering cumulative effects and climate change leaving a huge gap in our understanding of what impacts will be in the long term.
A regional environmental assessment, on the other hand, can lead to a big-picture understanding of the impacts of multiple developments and climate change. We discuss why the new Ontario government should start over with a new, more robust planning approach in a piece in Policy Options.
Photo credits: Banner | William Halliday © WCS Canada