Environmental groups and animal rights advocates have lost a landmark lawsuit in the years-long fight to curb fatal bird collisions.
The provincial court ruling Wednesday comes more than two years after Ontario Nature and Ecojustice, an environmental law firm, launched an unprecedented action against Menkes Developments, claiming more than 800 birds were killed or crippled after crashing into its Consilium Place property between 2008 and 2009.
The judgment, issued by Justice of the Peace William Turtle, dismissed three charges against Menkes leveled under the federal Environmental Protection Act and the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. Consilium Place, a cluster of highrise towers near Highway 401 and McCowan Rd., was long considered Toronto’s deadliest building complex for bird strikes.
The prosecution had argued that sunlight reflected from Consilium’s mirrored glass windows was considered radiation and, therefore, a contaminant under the Environmental Protection Act.
Reflected light, they argued, deceives birds into believing the building’s windows are continuous sky. While most crashes are fatal, court heard many birds were left crippled, with broken necks, broken beaks, brain trauma or spinal fractures.
According to the non-profit Fatal Light Awareness Program, which has tracked bird collisions in the GTA since 2003, more than 7,000 birds slammed into Consilium’s windows between 2000 and 2010. FLAP has estimated at least one million birds die in Toronto-area building collisions each year as they fly northward on popular migratory paths over Lake Ontario.