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Concerns raised over elimination of waterway protection act

Sudbury lakes and rivers could be left vulnerable to unregulated development if an omnibus bill from the federal Conservatives is passed that eliminates the Navigable Waters Protection Act.

Navigable Waters Protection Act in jeopardy if feds pass omnibus bill

Sudbury Member of Parliament Glenn Thibeault speaks out about the possible elimination of the Navigable Waters Protection Act from Ramsey Lake on Thursday. (CBC)

Sudbury’s lakes and rivers could be left vulnerable to unregulated development if the second omnibus budget implementation bill from the federal Conservatives is passed and eliminates the Navigable Waters Protection Act.

Sudbury Member of Parliament Glenn Thibeault said dozens of lakes will remain protected by the federal government, however, Sudbury’s 330 lakes will be vulnerable if the bill is passed.

"If someone wants to start doing something, they can start plowing away, they can start dredging, and there will be no trigger of an environmental assessment," said Thibeault.

Right now, any development involving a body of water must have federal approval - before construction.

This includes extending a dock, building a bridge or constructing a dam.

It worries Linda Heron, Chair of the Ontario Rivers Alliance.

"Once they're built, the damage is done," said Heron. "And chances are they aren't going to be taken out. All of these changes make it so much easier for developers to go ahead with their projects without proper environmental safe guards."

The federal government argues the act is meant to protect waterways, not to protect the environment.

Conservatives say the move will eliminate red tape, and reduce the regulatory burden on businesses.

According to Thibeault, if the bill is passed, the only way to oppose developments in waterways would be through the courts.