August 7-14, 2006

PEI Environment makes changes to improve investigation, enforcement services

Prince Edward Island Environment, Energy and Forestry Minister Jamie Ballem recently announced a number of changes aimed at improving the effectiveness of the department's investigation and enforcement section. He said recent staffing changes offered an opportunity to review how the section delivered its services and how this could be improved.

This spring, John Clements was named the new head of the section, replacing Gerald MacDougall, who moved to a new position as manager of the fish and wildlife section. Clements had previously spent 17 years as a conservation officer in PEI's central region. This former position was designated as an aboriginal conservation officer, with Aaron Waddell hired to fill the post. In addition to other duties, he will serve as a liaison with PEI's aboriginal people with regard to conservation of natural resources and protection of the environment and wildlife.

"This is something which the Native Council of PEI has suggested in the past and I'm pleased that the department was able to designate the position," Ballem said. "Having a conservation officer with aboriginal status and a sound knowledge of aboriginal culture and communities will help us better serve aboriginal people in Prince Edward Island."

Also as a result of the enforcement services review, the department has made slight changes in the role of staff in the investigation and enforcement section. The section consists of conservation officers and pesticide regulatory officers located throughout the province. Conservation officers all still have the same responsibilities and duties; however, some will have a primary focus of environmental enforcement, while others will focus more on natural resources, performing tasks such as bird banding, wildlife surveys, and responding to nuisance animal complaints.

Conservation officers enforce several pieces of provincial legislation assigned to the Environment Energy and Forestry department, including the Environmental Protection Act, Wildlife Conservation Act, Natural Areas Protection Act, Pesticides Control Act, Unsightly Property Act and Automobile Junk Yards Act.

They also enforce several other provincial and federal acts and regulations related to pollution prevention and wildlife protection, such as sections of the Trespass to Property Act related to hunting and fishing, littering offences under the Highway Traffic Act, and the federal Migratory Birds Convention Act related to the protection of migratory birds.

Pesticide regulatory officers primarily enforce the Pesticides Control Act; however, they are also designated as environment officers and are involved in enforcement of some sections of the Environmental Protection Act.

Ballem noted that all of these officers "not only enforce environmental legislation, but more importantly, they help prevent violations through their day-to-day work, ensuring Islanders in communities throughout the province are aware of the rules in place to protect the environment."

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