Backgrounder – Biographies of Joint Review Panel Members

MS. DEBRA SIKORA (PANEL CHAIR)

Debra Sikora has recently retired after more than 30 years with the Ontario Public Service. A graduate of the University of Toronto in 1981 with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Geological Engineering, Debra began her early career working in the mining industry in Ontario prior to joining the Public Service.

Debra has held various executive positions in the last 20 years at the Ministries of Environment and Climate Change and Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. In her most recent role as Assistant Deputy Minister of Food Safety and Environment Division, Debra was responsible for oversight of the development and delivery of programs in support of agricultural stakeholders. Her teams led the implementation of Agricultural Environmental programs including those supporting specific remediation activities within the Great Lakes as part of the Great Lakes Protection Act and the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Working with multiple provincial, federal and international partners and a dedicated science unit, she led various regulatory programs responsible for the delivery of safe food and the health of animals in Ontario.

Working in the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, Debra was the Assistant Deputy Minister of the Corporate Management Division and the Ministry's Chief Administrative Officer. She supported strategic change and transformation initiatives as executive lead for the Corporate Division on the Modernization of Environmental Approvals, Green House Gas Emissions Reduction and Toxics Reduction Strategy. Debra also held the role of Director of the Spills Action Centre, responsible to oversee the intake, assessment and deployment of appropriate environmental resources to respond to spills into the environment.

Debra has worked with multiple stakeholders and jurisdictions throughout her career forging positive working relationships and developing inclusive programming. Debra currently serves as an active Board Member with the Ontario Clean Water Agency and has recently completed a three-year term as a Commissioner with the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission.

MS. LAURIE BRUCE

Ms. Laurie Bruce is an environmental planner with over 30 years of experience. During her career, Laurie has drawn on her knowledge and skills as an environmental assessment (EA) and public consultation specialist to ensure that legislative requirements are being addressed by proponents and government agencies. She has carried out the role of EA reviewer, strategic adviser, EA manager and public consultation specialist for a wide range of projects subject to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, Impact Assessment Act and/or the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act. As an EA practitioner, Laurie has extensive experience with the interpretation of technical information and the application of EA practices such as multi-criteria decision-making, identification of net effects and the assessment of cumulative effects. Laurie has frequently been retained by government agencies to assist with the development of EA related policies, guidelines and training programs.

In 2014, Laurie was appointed as a part-time adjudicator to the Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal, on which she continues to serve. In addition, from 2014-2019 she was a part-time adjudicator with the Ontario Municipal Board (now the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal). She has adjudicated over 250 provincial hearings.

Laurie holds a Bachelor of Environmental Studies from the University of Waterloo and a Master of Arts and Certificate in Corporate Social Responsibility from the University of Toronto.

MS. GAY DRESCHER

Ms. Drescher has a comprehensive background in the regulation and practice of environmental impact assessment at the federal and provincial levels. As a provincial regulator, she has chaired many intergovernmental committees in the review of large-scale natural resource projects. She has extensive experience in community engagement and has supported First Nation communities in developing land use planning tools. In her career, Ms. Drescher chaired the Canadian Standards Association Technical Working Group for a national environmental assessment standard, presented on environmental assessment related topics nationally and internationally and taught at the university level. She is currently Chair of the Professional Standards Committee for the Planning Profession in Canada which is developing national competency standards for land use planners. She is also Vice President of the New Brunswick Association of Planners.

Ms. Drescher holds a Master of Environmental Studies from Dalhousie University, a certificate in Regulatory Studies from Michigan State University and is a Registered Professional Planner and a Member of the Canadian Institute of Planners. She is co-founder and partner with Alliance Planning and Environmental Consulting Inc., a boutique consultancy based in New Brunswick.

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