Posted on January 13, 2010 (updated: January 13, 2010)

Supreme Court sides with conservation – supports closure of logging road

The Supreme Court of Canada today dismissed a company’s last attempt at opening up a logging road in Lake Superior Provincial Park, near Sault Ste. Marie.

“This is a victory for our protected areas,” said Rob Wright, a lawyer with the Sierra Legal Defence Fund who argued the case on behalf of Wildlands League. “Parks are critical to protecting Ontario’s biodiversity for our children. Clearly the existence of a logging road is incompatible with a Park.”

In 2002, the Park Superintendent rejected the reopening of an old logging road. The road runs through the Park and would have been used to accommodate a numbered company from B.C., with timber holdings east of the Park. The company was initially successfully in challenging that decision in Court, opening the way for logging trucks to run through the Park.

The Government of Ontario appealed the lower Court decision to the Ontario Court of Appeal. Sierra Legal, on behalf of Wildlands League as an intervener, supported the Government’s challenge. The Court of Appeal agreed with the Government and the Intervener, thereby closing the road to the company.

The company then sought leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. The court dismissed with costs, the motion for leave to appeal. Therefore the decision of the Ministry of Natural Resources to close the controversial logging road that runs through the park.

“Today the company has exhausted its last route of appeal and must now comply with the Ministry’s decision to close the road to protect Lake Superior Provincial Park,” said Evan Ferrari, Director of Parks and Protected Areas Programs for Wildlands League. “Legislation that protects the biodiversity of our parks is long overdue in Ontario. This decision underscores the urgent need for a new law that clarifies what can and cannot occur in parks and to protect them for future generations.”

The government of Ontario recently announced its intention to update Ontario’s Provincial Parks Act, which is now fifty years old. One of the proposals the government has put forward is a ban on industrial activities within parks and the adoption of ecological integrity as a guiding principle in all decision-making for parks. Roads harm wildlife and biodiversity because they fragment habitat, create dust and pollution, and kill wildlife in collisions with vehicles.

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