Wildlife Area Regulations – establishment of the Big Glace Bay Lake National Wildlife Area and expansion of the Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area

Key findings from the strategic environmental assessment (SEA) conducted for the Regulations Amending the Wildlife Area Regulations and the Environmental Violations Administrative Monetary Penalties Regulations (Regulations).

The Canada Wildlife Act (CWA) and its regulations, the Wildlife Area Regulations (WAR), allow for the establishment, management and protection of National Wildlife Areas (NWAs) for research, conservation, and interpretation purposes. These Regulations designate the Big Glace Bay Lake (BGBL) NWA in Nova Scotia and add lands to the Prince Edward Point (PEP) NWA in Ontario. The creation and effective management of NWAs serve to protect and conserve wildlife and wildlife habitat.

In Budget 2018, under the Nature Legacy initiative, the Government of Canada committed to supporting Canada’s biodiversity and to protecting species at risk, in part by expanding the network of NWAs. In addition, the 2019 and 2020 Speeches from the Throne reiterated this commitment and the 2021 federal budget included an additional investment over five years in continued support of protecting and conserving 25 percent of land and inland waters in Canada by 2025 and 30 percent by 2030.

The BGBL area encompasses 392 hectares located on the northeastern coast of Nova Scotia, on Cape Breton Island, southeast of the municipality of Glace Bay. The body of water known as “Big Glace Bay Lake” is a barrier-beach pond, adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean, at Cabot Strait. Three hundred and seventy-eight (378) hectares of this BGBL area were designated as a Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) in 1939, pursuant to the Migratory Bird Sanctuary Regulations (MBSR) under the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994. The BGBL MBS conserves and protects habitat for several key bird species including the Piping Plover, which is an endangered species listed under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). The Regulations designate the lands that are currently within the BGBL MBS, plus two additional lots of land at the southwestern corner of BGBL as a new NWA of 392 hectares, through an amendment of the WAR. The Regulations allow most of the activities that occur at the MBS site to continue in the expanded area of the new NWA, with the exception of camping, lighting or maintaining a fire and the possession of lead fishing tackle under 50 grams, in order to ensure consistency with the activities allowed in most other NWAs in Canada.

PEP is an NWA encompassing 512.9 hectares located on the eastern end of the Long Point Peninsula, about 20 kilometres southeast of Picton, Ontario, along the northeast shore of Lake Ontario. This area was designated as an NWA in 1978, pursuant to the WAR. The PEP NWA conserves and protects habitat for more than 330 recorded species of birds, and for at least 33 species listed under the SARA (e.g. birds, butterflies, snakes, bats), including 10 endangered species and 23 threatened and special concern species. The Regulations add to the existing NWA two lots of land, through an amendment of the WAR. The Regulations also maintain, in the newly added lands, the activities that are currently authorized within the NWA.

The environmental outcomes expected to result from the Regulations are positive and contribute to the implementation of the following 2019-2022 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS) goals and targets and United Nations’ 2030 Agenda Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):

Sustainably Managed Lands and Forests

It is anticipated that the Regulations will contribute to sustainably managed lands and forests within the BGBL and PEP areas.

Healthy Wildlife Populations

The BGBL NWA contains important habitat for several key bird species (e.g. American Black Ducks, Canada Geese, Common Goldeneyes, Buffleheads, Piping Plover), as well as for certain plants, non-migratory birds and other animals. The PEP NWA contains important habitat for at least 33 species of birds, butterflies, snakes and bats, which are listed under the SARA, including 10 in the SARA’s “endangered” category of risk and 23 in the “threatened” and “special concern” categories. Furthermore, by protecting critical habitats for species at risk, the Regulations also contributes to SDG 15 - Life on Land.

Effective Action on Climate Change

An expanded and strengthened protected areas network contributes to the larger Government of Canada strategy to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Helping maintain genetic diversity, providing a refuge for species and fostering the ability of safe habitats to recover from disturbances due to climatic events also contribute to SDG 13 - Climate Action.

Connecting Canadians with Nature

The Regulations provide increased opportunities for Canadians to experience nature and inform themselves about the value of nature.

The conservation of biodiversity and its sustainable use are critical for good human health, which depends on a healthy environment, and a healthy population supports a sustainable and growing economy.

In order to ensure that implementation of the Regulations supports expected outcomes and the FSDS goals and targets, each individual NWA is managed according to the conservation objectives set out in its respective management plan, which is elaborated in consultation with local Indigenous communities, stakeholders and the public. The Atlantic Region and Ontario Region teams of Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC)’s Protected Areas Program manage and monitor the BGBL NWA and the PEP NWA respectively. Each regional team uses its NWA management plan to guide decision-making on the monitoring of wildlife, the maintenance and improvement of wildlife habitat, the enforcement of regulations, the maintenance of facilities, and permitting. The compliance strategy and compliance promotion plan developed for the Regulations are part of the follow-up and monitoring process. The Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) monitors rates of compliance and the Enforcement Branch monitors statistics of non-compliance.

Follow-up and reporting take place in accordance with ECCC’s departmental reporting process, with NWA management plans reviewed every 10 years, compliance strategies reviewed every two years, and protected area management effectiveness evaluated every three years. Where the effectiveness of a plan, strategy or management approach declines, appropriate action is taken to target any weaknesses. The Wildlife Management and Regulatory Affairs Division and the Protected Areas Division of the CWS, and the Wildlife Enforcement Directorate of ECCC’s Enforcement Branch review the effectiveness of the compliance strategy and compliance promotion plan. The Protected Areas Program reviews the NWA management plans. The results of each follow-up initiative are monitored by the responsible group. Where necessary, changes are made to the relevant plan, strategy or approach, and the outcomes of these changes are reported through the established CWS and departmental reporting channels.

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