Ontario’s Ford Government Is Moving To Gut Our Conservation Authorities

Say Goodbye to Bodies Like The NPCA Playing A Key Role in Science-Based Flood Management, Input on Development Proposals and Restoration and Preservation of our Natural Heritage

A Commentary Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper, followed by a link to a Must-Read Report in The Toronto Star

Posted November 12th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Ontario Premier Doug Ford moves forward with is plans to deconstruct the province’s Conservation Authorities as voices for environmental protection

As we have been learning since Premier Doug Ford and his Conservatives released their 2020 Budget this November 5th, embedded in that budget are plans to radically diminish the role that the province’s 36 Conservation Authorities, including our Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority, play in environmental protection in our precious watersheds.

If and when Ford and company carry through with this demolition plan, all citizen voices on Conservation Authority boards, with the exception of representation from the agricultural industry, will be purged and Conservation will have little left to do but to maintain and manage the conservation areas they currently have under their control.

Any further role we need them to play – especially in an era of climate emergency and relentless pressure from developers to continue with low-density sprawl over natural lands – will be weakened to a point where citizens will have few, if any, bodies left to turn to with concerns over environmental protection.

Under this plan, even our municipal leaders could be left with little or no voice in development proposals that would go straight to the province for approval.

We probably should not be surprised or shocked that the Ford government is moving in this direction. Even before his Conservatives were elected in the spring of 2018, Doug Ford was caught on a video tape telling a room full of developers that he was all for selling off “chunks” of Ontario’s protected greenbelt for them to pave over.

It was only three or four years ago that thousands of citizens across our Niagara region fought efforts by members of then-Niagara Regional chair Al Caslin’s cabal and their toadies to reduce the NPCA to a body that favoured proposals by developers over long-term goals to protect and preserve a healthy natural environment.

Look at the following chart from a Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority budget report for the years 2018 and 2019 and you will see that the bulk of funding for our Conservation Authority comes from municipal taxpayers and other sources. Less than five per cent comes from the Ontario government. So where does the Ford government get off doing a gutting job on Conservation Authorities?

And within a year or two of that battle being won, here we are again – this time facing a provincial government that wants to deconstruct our NPCA and other Conservation Authorities across Ontario as bodies we should be able to count on to speak out for our natural heritage.

So we need to rise up by the thousands again in Niagara, and speak out against this assault by Ford’s Conservatives on what is left of our natural heritage. This Tory war on our environment has got to be stopped.

We also need our municipal leaders speaking out against this travesty. Where are they?

Niagara At Large will have more to post on this in the days and weeks ahead.

In the meantime, please read the following story on this issue that was published in The Toronto Star this November 11th. One of the individuals whose concerns are cited in the Star story is Liz Benneian, head of the citizen-based group, A Better Niagara, whose commentary on this subject was recently posted in Niagara At Large

To read The Toronto Star story, click on the following link – https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2020/11/11/the-developers-are-all-in-control-new-rules-by-doug-fords-provincial-government-will-limit-the-power-of-conservation-authorities-sparking-fears-for-the-environment.html?li_source=LI&li_medium=star_web_ymbii

For a recent commentary Niagara At Large posted on this issue, featuring the views of Liz Benneian for A Better Niagara and partner groups in Niagara, Ontario, click on – https://niagaraatlarge.com/2020/11/09/ontarios-ford-government-making-disastrous-changes-to-provinces-conservation-act/ .

To watch now Ontario Premier Doug Ford telling a room full of developers that he would gut lands in the province’s protected Greenbelt for “affordable house,” click on the screen below. Please consider as you listen to this that we DO NOT have to make a false choice between building more affordable housing and destroying more of what is left of our precious natural heritage and food-growing lands –

 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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