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FLAP wants sign-ons to protest Ontario law exempting building owners from liability for avian mortality

Fern Davies

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Ontario Ministry of Environment proposing to give up key power to protect songbirds


Dark-eyed Junco - window collision victim
(Photo: Mary Barber)

Millions of birds are killed in collisions with windows each year across Canada. FLAP Canada has documented 170 species, including species at risk. There are many available solutions designed to help prevent these deaths. The City of Toronto became a leader in the field of preventing migratory bird-window strikes when it published itsBird-Friendly Development Guidelines. In 2010, the Toronto Green Standard began requiring developers to make their new buildings bird-friendly.

The Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change is proposing to exempt commercial building owners from a key provision of the province’sEnvironmental Protection Act(EPA).

Instead, the Ministry hopes to put in place voluntary measures.


“Every year we collect thousands of dead and injured birds at buildings in the Toronto area,” said Michael Mesure, executive director of the Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP) Canada. “The Ministry’s plan is disheartening given our work during 22 years showing that corporate owners aren’t interested in voluntary action.”


In 2013, an Ontario Court in Podolsky v. Cadillac Fairview made it clear that the province has the power to regulate building owners that are killing birds in window strikes. The court found that reflected light from building windows is a ‘contaminant’ under Section 14 of the EPA.


The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario's Annual Report released on November 3, 2015 included strong criticism of the Ministry’s proposed approach of leaving bird protection to building owners:

The bigger, underlying problem, however, is that the Ontario court decision created a regulatory gap that the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change has failed to address… Instead, it appears that the ministry’s preferred approach is to ignore its regulatory responsibility and leave it up to property owners and managers to voluntarily follow guidelines and suggested strategies.

Please add your voice! Send your comments to the Ministry of Environment by Dec. 4 Click here: ENVIRONMENTAL REGISTRY
PROPOSED REVISION: FLAP Canada would propose that as per the key provisions under the Environmental Protection Act, specific building facades that have been identified as posing a high risk for bird collisions are addressed in a timely manner. High risk means that there is a high probability for birds to be attracted to and collide with a specific façade. To identify high risk facades, a risk assessment tool supported by the scientific community be utilized.
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