Ford Government’s Changes to Conservation Authorities Act Trigger Red Flags for Conservation Ontario

“If nothing else, pandemic conditions this year have certainly reinforced how much we rely on a healthy environment for our own well-being. It’s important that conservation authorities are able to continue to protect our natural environment and ensure the safety of Ontario residents.”                                                             – Kim Gavine, General Manager, Conservation Ontario

A News Release from Conservation Ontario, the umbrella body for the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) and 35 other Conservation Authorities across the province

Posted November 10th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Kim Gavine, General Manager, Conservation Ontario

Conservation Ontario and the conservation authorities (CAs) are reviewing the Province’s changes to the Conservation Authorities Act (CA Act) which were released (this past November 5th) in the 2020 Ontario Budget.

“There are a number of changes that we feel could have significant impact on conservation authorities, and on their watershed management responsibilities,” said Kim Gavine, General Manager of Conservation Ontario (CO).

Conservation Ontario is the association which represents Ontario’s 36 conservation authorities. The CA Act has been under review by the Province since April 2019.

Earlier this year, the Minister of Environment, Parks and Conservation (MECP) hosted a series of five consultation meetings across the province with invited representatives primarily from municipalities, conservation authorities and agriculture, landowner and development sectors. Conservation Ontario was a presenter at these sessions.

“There are a number of changes that could actually create more red tape and delay permit application approvals and I’m not sure that’s what the Province intended to do,” Gavine pointed out.

Over the past two years, CO has been working with CAs, the development sector and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) to develop better streamlined client service approaches for CAs to use when reviewing plan review and permit applications. The initiative has been well-received and is ongoing.

As well, changes have been made to the planning role for conservation authorities which could actually put more people at threat, rather than protect them from natural hazards.

“One of our main goals throughout this review has been to maintain the conservation authorities’ watershed-based approach to protecting people from natural hazards and ensuring the conservation of Ontario’s natural resources. Some of the changes will impact the CAs’ ability to do so,” Gavine said.

Some of the other changes included in yesterday’s budget bill (Bill 229) are around new rules for CA Board appointments, scoping of non-mandatory programs and services, and creation of new Ministerial powers.

“If nothing else, pandemic conditions this year have certainly reinforced how much we rely on a healthy environment for our own well-being,” Gavine said. “It’s important that conservation authorities are able to continue to protect our natural environment and ensure the safety of Ontario residents.”

About Conservation Ontario – Conservation Ontario is a non-profit association that represents Ontario’s 36 Conservation Authorities, (including the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority).

Conservation Authorities are community-based watershed management agencies, whose mandate is to undertake watershed-based programs to protect people and property from flooding, and other natural hazards, and to conserve natural resources for economic, social and environmental benefits. Conservation Authorities are legislated under the Conservation Authorities Act, 1946.

Conservation Ontario is governed by a six-member elected Board of Directors and directed by a Council comprised of appointed and elected municipal official from the 36 Conservation Authorities Boards of Directors and Conservation Authorities staff. Conservation Ontario’s main source of funding is secured from its membership through levies and supplemented by project funding and contracts.

For more on Conservation Ontario, visit the organization’s website at – https://conservationontario.ca/

To read another recent news commentary that Niagara At Large posted on the Ford government’s move to weaken and deconstruct Convervation Authorities as voices for protecting and preserving our natural heritage, click on – https://niagaraatlarge.com/2020/11/09/ontarios-ford-government-making-disastrous-changes-to-provinces-conservation-act/ .

NIAGARA AT LARGE Encourages You To Join The Conversation By Sharing Your Views On This Post In The Space Following The Bernie Sanders Quote Below.

“A Politician Thinks Of The Next Election. A Leader Thinks Of The Next Generation.” – Bernie Sanders

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