Sent: Saturday, February 22, 2003 2:41 PM

Subject: OPERA Agenda Recommendations for Species At Risk Act Consultation


Mr. Terry Mueller, Species At Risk Office


A Feb.3/03 letter from Mr. Trevor Swerdfager, Director General of the Canadian Wildlife Service, suggests that Ontario Property And Environmental Alliance (OPERA) recommendations concerning implementation of subject legislation be forwarded to your office. Accordingly, in random sequence we list several preliminary recommendations for the consultative process as follows;


(1) visits to private property by government agents or representatives of any special interest group to monitor reported or suspected presence of endangered species must be approved in advance and in writing by the landowner/occupier involved and all visits not so pre-approved shall be considered illegal trespass for which legal action at full government expense shall be appropriate. All visits, when properly arranged and approved in advance, shall be conducted only in the presence of the targeted landowner/occupier and at least 2 witnesses appointed by him or her with all proceedings recorded electronically or in writing.   


(2) as matters of right, common law and natural justice, the name, postal address, occupation and qualifications of any person reporting an alleged violation of SARA or its Regulations as well as details of the event shall be made available to the accused offender on request, each accused offender shall be presumed innocent until proven guilty and none shall be required to provide evidence of self-incrimination.


(3) membership of the Committee On Status Of Endangered Wildlife In Canada (COSEWIC) must include delegates from private landowner and rural municipality organizations, the principal stakeholders most likely to be affected by COSEWIC decisions formulated, as is now the case, by the scientific community, special interest groups and aboriginal representation alone.


(4) any government intention to designate private freehold as endangered species habitat must be publicly announced in advance to the landowner/occupier directly affected and to the entire local community as well, such advance notice to be followed by public meetings at which short, medium and long term effects of the designation must be fully disclosed, right of protest, appeal and compensation thoroughly explained and complexities of so-called Recovery Plans extensively reviewed.


(5) advance public notices and public meetings must precede Recovery Plans and all such undertakings must be fully discussed on-site with the affected landowner/occupier and, at the same time, with a delegation of adjacent landowner/occupiers, all proceedings and related commentary being recorded electronically or in writing for future reference.   


(6) SARA regulations must include a clearly worded, legally binding formula for landowner/occupier compensation in event any private property, or any public land adjacent thereto, is designated endangered species habitat under SARA. This formula to provide a range of compensation options for affected landowners/occupiers including, but not limited to, stewardship programs, financial re-imbursement for "partial takings", payment of both present and anticipated capital and operating losses and/or transfer of the entire property to the state or its appointed agent under federal Expropriation Act procedures at full market value as productive land prior to its SARA designation 


This list of suggested issues for upcoming review of proposed SARA regulations is neither final nor complete and OPERA will appreciate an opportunity to enlarge and/or refine it as time and circumstance dictate. Meanwhile, a copy of our response to Mr. Swerdfager is "attached" for your records and a hard copy of this E-mail message has been forwarded to him for cross-reference as and when indicated.


We look forward to detailed information concerning the Ontario schedule of proposed SARA seminars and public meetings. 


Receipt acknowledgement of this message will be appreciated at the E-mail address indicated above.


R.A. (Bob) Fowler, OPERA Secretary