Thunder Bay: Ring of Fire development to be ‘slow, contested’ if Far North Act replacement stands as-is, legal expert says – by Matt Prokopchuk (CBC News Thunder Bay – April 17,, 2019)

Province reviewing Far North Act to reduce ‘red tape’ over development

Ontario’s proposed revamping of legislation that dictates how development proceeds in the province’s far north doesn’t do enough to protect the rights of First Nations and will likely lead to “renewed conflict” with Indigenous communities, according to an environmental law expert.

That’s among the conclusions submitted by Dayna Scott, an associate professor at Osgoode Hall and a co-director of the law school’s environmental justice and sustainability clinic to the ongoing review of the Far North Act.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is reviewing the 2010 legislation with an eye on repealing it, “with a view to reducing red tape and restrictions on important economic development projects in the far north.”

Scott said it’s a “tricky issue” as many First Nations didn’t approve of the Far North Act coming into force, citing a lack of consultation, calling the legislation “imperfect” in her submission but added, in an interview with CBC News, that what the government is proposing to replace it with — largely the Public Lands Act — is “even worse in terms of giving communities the power to make decisions about land uses in their territories.”

“It sort of sets up a kind of planning system that’s completely discretionary, that gives all the power to the Crown and the ministries,” Scott said. “It has … a very basic recognition of constitutional protection of treaty rights, for example.” “They don’t really give any control over planning to the communities themselves.”

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