Protected Areas Law in Ontario, Canada

Maintenance of Ecological Integrity as the Management Priority

By Christopher Wilkinson, Office of the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario

Abstract: The legislation governing protected areas in Ontario, Canada, had not been significantly revised in more than half a century since its introduction in 1954. During this time, the number of protected areas under the jurisdiction of the Government of Ontario increased from eight to 631 sites, now covering approximately 94,000 km2 or 9% of the province. In recent decades, many different stakeholders, independent experts, and government panels and agencies have called for new legislation with a mandate to conserve biodiversity and maintain ecological integrity. This paper discusses recent legislative changes that guide the planning and management of protected areas in Ontario, Canada. This paper concludes that the Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act, 2006 is a significant improvement to the legislative framework governing Ontario’s protected areas, but that concerns remains with regard to adequate government funding and the overall approach to Crown land management.

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