The law

Ontario’s Endangered Species Act protects endangered and threatened species — animals and plants in decline and at risk of disappearing from the province.

You need to follow certain rules if you operate a wind facility that could affect a protected species or habitat.

Different rules apply if you want to build a new wind facility.

Source law

This is a summary of the provincial laws. You can find a complete set of provincial rules related to this activity in:

  • Endangered Species Act, 2007
  • Ontario Regulation 242/08 (general)

The rules

You must:

  • register the activity and the affected species with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (before work begins)
  • take immediate steps to minimize the effects to the species and habitat
  • create and implement a mitigation plan for each species
  • report sightings of rare species (and update registration documentation, if needed)
  • use an expert to monitor the effects of operations on a species and how effective your steps have been to minimize the impact on it
  • report on species and activities

Report a species

If you see or encounter a species, you must inform the Natural Heritage Information Centre — within 3 months of a sighting or encounter.

To report a sighting:

  • fill out a Rare Species Reporting form online
  • complete each section in the report
  • hit the submit button to send in the report

Report a rare species

Contact the Natural Heritage Information Centre

How to register

Step 1: Download the Natural Resources Registration Guide

  • print a copy or
  • open the guide in a new window or tab

Natural Resources Registration Guide

Step 2: Create a ONe-key ID and Natural Resources client profile

You need a ONe-key ID and a Natural Resources client profile to register online. ONe-key is a secure account that gives you online access to Ontario government programs and services.

Once you have a ONe-key ID, you will be asked to create either an individual or business profile for Natural Resources registrations. Create:

  • an individual profile to register non-business activities
  • a business profile to register activities conducted by a:
    • business
    • non-profit organization
    • municipality
    • government agency
    • ministry
  • an authorized representative profile to register activities on behalf of a business.

Open a new window or tab to:

Create an individual profile
Create a business profile

If you already have a ONe-key ID:

  • sign in to ONe-key
  • confirm your Natural Resources profile

Open a new window or tab to:

Sign in as a returning individual
Sign in as a returning business

Step 3: Register an activity

  • select My Services from the main menu
    • if you are an authorized representative, identify the business you are representing
  • click on Create New Registration
  • select Notice of Activity and Other Notices under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) from the registry options
  • select Wind Facilities – Operations
  • register the activity
  • submit the registration

Step 4: Receive confirmation

  • receive an official Confirmation of Registration by email
  • keep a copy as proof of registration
  • registration is free

If you require an alternate format:

  • download the registration form and user guide
  • print, complete and mail the form
  • wait for confirmation

Notice of Activity - Wind Facilities Operations

Minimize effects on a species

By law, you must:

  • operate in a way that is unlikely to harm the habitat
  • adjust techniques to minimize the impact on a species

You must also take reasonable steps to:

  • avoid killing, harming or harassing a species (e.g., shut down turbines at certain times; adjust cut-in speed)
  • create or enhance habitat (e.g., create a nesting habitat in another place)

Mitigation plans

Mitigation plans should include the best available information on a species.

You can get this information from:

  • The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
  • Aboriginal traditional knowledge
  • community knowledge (e.g., local nature clubs)

A plan must:

  • be prepared by an expert on the species
  • be updated every 5 years
  • describe the location of the wind facility
  • say how you will minimize effects on species

Deadlines for plans

In most cases, you must have a plan prepared before the work you do affects a species or its habitat.

You have 3 years to complete the plan:

  • from the date the species first appeared on the site or
  • from the date the species was listed for those species listed on or after January 24, 2013.

You must keep plans:

  • while you are operating and
  • for 5 years after you stop operating

You need to give a copy to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, if asked.

Special requirements for new facilities

Before you can build a new facility, you need to:

  • prepare a mitigation plan before you apply for Renewable Energy Approval to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change
  • if you’ve already applied:  prepare a mitigation plan before your renewable energy application is approved. Submit your mitigation plan to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry promptly after it is prepared.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry must approve a mitigation plan before work begins that would contravene the ESA. These special requirements do not apply if your renewable energy application was approved on or before July 1, 2013.

Reporting process

You must prepare a report that includes:

  • information on how an operation affects a species and habitat
  • how you minimized effects on a species and how effective they were
  • any observations/sightings of a species

When to prepare reports

After you register:

  • each year for the first 3 years
  • every 5 years after that

When extended timelines apply (you have an extra 3 years to complete a mitigation plan)

After you register:

  • each year for the first 6 years
  • every 5 years after that

You must keep reports for 5 years — and give a copy to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, if asked.

When you need a permit

You could still need a permit if:

  • you are building a new wind farm or turbine
  • operations will affect:
    • Golden Eagle
    • a species listed after June 27, 2014

To apply for a permit, you need to contact a local Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry office.

Find an MNRF district office

New or proposed wind farms

You could need a permit to build a new wind facility. If the project is in the final stages of approval, you may not need a permit.

More information on new wind facilities

Identify a species at risk

If you are unsure about a certain species – and would like help identifying or confirming what it is – you can see photos and get more information on the Endangered Species website.

Get more details about a species