Under the provincial Planning Act, a municipality is required to ensure that endangered and threatened species habitat is given serious consideration before the approval of a proposed development project. Where there is a concern related to species at risk, the municipality can ask for a species at risk (SAR) screening or an environmental impact study – scoped to species at risk. Our ecologists, who are specialized in species at risk and their habitats, assess the potential impacts of the proposed development, and provide a report or letter of opinion to the client and the municipality.
Some of the habitat features that might trigger the request for a species at risk survey or screening letter would be hayfields, which are a habitat for birds such as Meadowlark and Bobolink; large areas of open rock barrens where Massasauga and Eastern Fox Snake can be found; mixed and open forest areas that provide habitat for the Eastern Whip-poor-will, a bird of concern; and wetlands, where Blanding’s or Spotted Turtles can be found.
Our initial recommendation would be to take the avoidance approach. For example, if the development is proposed within a hayfield, the province has outlined restrictions around development within habitat for species at risk. If avoidance of the habitat is not possible, it may be necessary for ecologists to would conduct field surveys to determine if the species at risk is present at the proposed development site. In the example of the hayfield, ecologists would survey the property using approved breeding bird survey protocol to determine the
presence of Meadowlark and/or Bobolink within the development area. If ecologists determine that the species at risk is present at the proposed development site, and the client wants to pursue their development, RiverStone can provide advice and help develop a plan that is acceptable to the province and the municipality while ensuring compliance with policy. Essentially, RiverStone is available to work through the application process with clients, assist with species at risk application permits, and review the proposed plan agencies, such as the municipality and the Ministry of Environment, Conservation, and Parks (MECP). RiverStone is qualified to conduct all work relating to endangered and threatened species, from specific assessment and species at risk surveys through to securing species at risk permits and Endangered Species Act permits (ESA permits).