Ontario passes Ontario Forest Tenure Modernization Act
Ontario passed its Ontario Forest Tenure Modernization Act (Bill 151) in its legislature today.
The Act changes the forest tenure system and provides a more competitive market environment in the allocation and pricing of Crown timber.
Under the new system, Ontario will introduce two new forest management models for harvesting wood from Ontario’s forests:
- Local Forest Management Corporations (LFMCs) will now manage Crown forests and oversee the competitive sale of the timber in a given area
- Enhanced Shareholder Sustainable Forest Licences (SFLs): a group of mills and/or harvesters that collectively form a new company to manage Crown forests under the Sustainable Forest Licence that is issued to them.
These two new models will help make Ontario’s timber supply and prices more responsive to market demand, make it easier for entrepreneurs to participate in the forest economy, and facilitate greater Aboriginal and local involvement in the forest sector.
“We’ve worked hard on this legislation to address concerns about change, as well as the desire for change. Now it’s time for action to balance private interests with the overriding public interest in putting Ontario’s wood and people back to work,” said Michael Gravelle, Minister of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry.
“Northern Ontario relies on a sustainable forest management system. A modernized system will help this industry remain competitive while at the same time help regulate this critical public resource,” added Linda Jeffrey, Minister of Natural Resources.
This new Act has not passed without controversy. Northern Ontario, home to most of Ontario’s forests, was cut out of the bill’s hearings after tremendous opposition from the mayors of Timmins, Thunder Bay, Ignace, Espanola, Sioux Lookout, and Iroquois Falls. The northern communities wanted the bill’s progression slowed so the government would consult with their residents. Suggested amendments from the Ontario Forest Industry Association and the Ontario Bar Association were ignored.
The third reading, which occurred this morning, was limited to just 1 hour of debate.
“This Liberal Government has played a four-month-long shell game with the foresters and families of Northern Ontario. Since January the minister has promised that the legislation was designed for Northern Ontario, yet the Liberals have demonstrated that this legislation was created by downtown Toronto environmental lobbyists,” said Randy Hillier, MPP, PC Party critic for Northern Development, Mines and Forestry.
“The McGuinty Liberals, led by Mike Brown in committee, cut off consultations throughout the North because they knew how strong the opposition was to this legislation. They have now rammed through a piece of uncertain and experimental legislation that will directly and negatively impact the economy of Northern Ontario,” noted Steve Clark, MPP.
Ontario’s Tenure and Licensing System (Ontario Ministry of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry)
Provincial Wood Supply Competitive Process – Update – Stage II (Ontario Ministry of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry)
McGuinty Government Making Forest Industry More Competitive, Creating Jobs (Government of Ontario)
Liberals Play Shell Game with Northern Ontario (Randy Hillier, MPP)