Province Tying Conservation Authorities Up in Red Tape – Repeal Schedule 6 of Ford Government’s Budget Measures Act
A News Release from Conservation Ontario, the umbrella body for the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority aned 35 other Conservation Authroties across Ontario
Posted November 20th, 2020 on Niagara At Large
NEWMARKET Ontario – Conservation Ontario (CO) recommends the Province repeal (remove) Schedule 6 which amends the Conservation Authorities Act and the Planning Act because the changes being proposed will create more red tape and higher costs for Ontario taxpayers as well as threaten the independent watershed-based approach used by conservation authorities (CAs) in land use planning.
There are a number of proposed changes contained in Bill 229: Protect, Support and Recover from COVID 19 Act (Budget Measures Act) which Conservation Ontario believes will have the potential to add significant delays and costs in conservation authority enforcement, planning and permitting processes as well as ultimately have the potential for significant impacts on Ontario’s ability to provide cost-effective flooding and natural hazards management/protection and drinking water protection to Ontarians.
The proposed amendments are not administrative but, in fact, could have significant environmental impact due to decisions being made without consideration of the local watershed science and data provided by conservation authorities.
“The changes the Province is proposing will achieve the opposite of what they say they want to do which is to reduce red tape and create conditions for growth,” said Kim Gavine, General Manager of Conservation Ontario.
Conservation Ontario represents Ontario’s 36 conservation authorities which are community-based watershed management agencies. Conservation Ontario was already on track with addressing these issues through CO’s Client Service and Streamlining Initiative which rolled out last year.
Through a review of the current permit review process, Conservation Ontario estimates that the new changes to the permitting appeals process could delay approvals by as much as 200 days. As well costs can be expected to increase due to more staff time being required for permit appeals processes rather than time being spent on actually issuing permits.
Changes to regulatory enforcement tools will also increase costs. During the pandemic, conservation authorities have been experiencing an increase in illegal activities on CA owned and/or regulated lands. Extensive remediation costs and damages to neighbouring properties can be avoided if tools such as enhanced powers of inspection and stop (work) orders are available to CA officers.
Conservation Ontario feels that if the changes around the planning appeals process proceed, we run the risk of the plan review process having a piecemeal approach which could ultimately create the potential for cumulative negative environmental impacts.
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/ .
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