October 8th, 2021

MPP urges Ford to mandate bird-friendly design in windows of new buildings

TORONTO — Spadina—Fort York MPP Chris Glover has introduced a motion to protect migratory birds from fatal collision with windows, calling on the Ford government to integrate the Canadian Standards Association (CSA)'s 2019 Bird-Friendly Design standard in the Ontario Building Code.

At a press conference Friday, Glover addressed his motion — which would make it the law for all new residential and commercial construction to use bird-friendly materials for windows. He was joined by advocates Michael Mesure, Executive Director of FLAP Canada; John Carley, architect and Co-Chair of Friends of the Spit; Albert Koehl, an environmental lawyer and Emily Rondel, President of the Toronto Ornithological Club.

"Maintaining our ecosystem is a part of preventing and dealing with the impacts of climate change, and birds play a critical role in native ecosystems," Glover said. "They pollinate plants and help maintain fertile agricultural land, healthy wetlands, and lush forests. Many of Ontario's migratory bird populations are in dangerous decline because of climate change. But buildings represent a major killer of birds as well, including bird species at risk"

An estimated 25 million birds die in Canada each year due to collision with building windows.

"Ensuring that all new construction uses bird-friendly window materials is a simple, proactive and inexpensive way to reduce fatal collisions and protect this vital wildlife, as well as our biodiversity," Glover said.

The previous provincial government sponsored the CSA to develop a national standard for bird-friendly building design to make windows more visible to birds. Several municipalities, including the City of Toronto, adopted these guidelines, but the Ontario government has failed to mandate them. Ontario's Environmental Protection Act and Canada's Species at Risk Act make it an offence to harm or kill birds due to window collisions, but governments have not enforced these laws.

"We need to take concrete, meaningful action to conserve our bird species and protect our environment for the coming decades," Glover said. "The Ford government must act now and enshrine in law the use of bird-friendly materials in all new buildings in Ontario."

Glover submitted the motion to the Ontario legislature’s official record this week.


Margaret Atwood, internationally renowned author and environmental activist:

"Between 1 and 10 million migratory birds collide with windows in Toronto each year. Bird populations have decreased across Canada, and the number of bird species at risk increased from 47 to 86 between 2001 and 2014. MPP Chris Glover's motion to change the Ontario building code to mandate bird safe buildings is an essential green policy for Ontario. Birds need our help!"

Never Collide:

"We live in a unique time where we have the means and knowledge by which to do better, and we more than understand the severe consequences of choosing to do nothing. The chance to include proven and actionable bird-friendly design standards into the Ontario Building Code means that we choose a better and brighter Ontario and Canada."

Michael Mesure, Executive Director, FLAP Canada:

"This motion is a game changer for the protection of migratory birds. No doubt, should Ontario lead in including bird-friendly glass into the Building Code, others will be inspired to follow nationwide. The time has come to welcome wildlife preservation into the green building movement."

Emily Rondel, President, Toronto Ornithological Club:

"The Toronto Ornithological Club is grateful to MPP Chris Glover for his vision in recognizing and addressing building collisions as a driver of bird decline. We support him wholeheartedly as he champions the changes we have to take with our building practices to make our province a safer place for birds."

Lynne Freeman, President, Ontario Field Ornithologists:

“Given how many birds we are losing mostly to human-related causes (25% decline in North America in just 50 years!), and given how important birds are for both our natural environment and quality of life, Ontario Field Ornithologists urges the Ontario government to require bird-friendly building design for all new construction. This is an easy yet meaningful action.”

Garth Riley, Co-Chair, Friends of the Spit:

"Friends of The Spit welcome and support this initiative. The Leslie Street Spit, portions of which are known as Tommy Thompson Park, is classified as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by BirdLife International and Birds Canada, and is home to thousands of breeding birds. We need all new structures in the province to be bird-friendly, to mitigate the carnage of bird-building collisions, which is estimated to be responsible for 100 million to 1 billion bird deaths in North America each year. The CSA A460 Standard must be adopted into the Ontario Building Code."

Ainslie Willock, advisor, Animal Alliance of Canada:

"Animal Alliance of Canada applauds and welcomes MPP Chris Glover’s Motion to the House. This would be a significant measure to end the senseless killing of millions of birds in Canada and lead the way for other provinces.We have a responsibility to stop designing buildings that kill birds. I urge all Ontario MPPs to celebrate birds and protect them from dying by mandating the CSA’s Bird-Friendly Design standards for all new construction."

Paul Groleau VP Feather Friendly Technologies Inc.:

"Feather Friendly endorses this motion for conservation of our wildlife. Continued education and conservation efforts around this global issue is paramount."

Brendon Samuels, PhD candidate coordinator, London Bird Team:

"Over the past few years, our members have advocated for the City of London to implement bird-friendly building design requirements in new site plans, following in the footsteps of the City of Toronto. However, the risk of bird-window collisions spans across municipal boundaries and includes residential buildings not covered by site plan by-laws. The Government of Ontario should take action and require the bird-friendly standard in all new construction across the province. This common-sense measure is consistent with the Government's goals to protect biodiversity and will position Ontario as an international leader in bird conservation."

London Environmental Network:

"We aim to make London one of the greenest and most resilient cities in Canada. To do that, we need sustainable building code standards and policies that mandate sustainable and resilient design. One of those elements is bird-friendly design processes, like treated glass, motion activated lights and lights pouting downwards. We are so glad to see this moving forward at the building code level, so it is addressed from the beginning of design, instead of retrofit buildings afterwards.

John Carley, FRAIC:

"One thing I learned as an architect is: “A sustainable building can’t be truly called sustainable until it is bird-friendly”.

Albert Koehl, Environmental lawyer:

"Integrating the CSA standard into the Building Code is an effective way of protecting migratory birds as a vital natural resource that serves humans by reducing pests that harm our agriculture, dispersing seeds, and giving Ontarians immense enjoyment, adding to the richness of our surroundings and our lives."

Additional supporting organizations:

Toronto Island Community Association
Bird Friendly Hamilton Burlington
Birds Canada
Canadian Wildlife Federation
Nature London
Pelee Island Bird Observatory
Salthaven Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Centre Inc.