We, the 112 undersigned organizations, call on the Government of Ontario to retain the current mandate of the province’s 36 Conservation Authorities in protecting, restoring and managing the watersheds where 95 percent of Ontarians reside. Their functions and responsibilities with respect to land use planning and permitting, monitoring, stewardship and education must be maintained, for the reasons outlined below.
In closing, we urge the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry to recognize the necessity of managing flood mitigation at a watershed scale and the importance of natural infrastructure. There is no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to protecting our communities from flooding. This goal can be achieved by investing in our existing agencies (eg, conservation authorities) and by protecting and restoring our natural infrastructure (eg, wetlands and forests).
As a basic, the province must have a comprehensive approach to watershed management through flood mapping, mitigation and hazard planning and protection, including services such as wetland protection, climate change adaptation and resilience, biodiversity health and land use planning. In other words, we must be beefing up our public safety and environmental protection efforts, rather than gutting and streamlining key policy and legislation, as well as funding for our regulators.
We strongly encourage the Ministries to hold fulsome and meaningful public consultations, aimed at ensuring that the proposed budgetary, legislative, and any future regulatory changes meet the desired vision of improving Ontario’s resilience to climate change. Until such time as a full assessment of the proposed changes is complete, we call on the government to delay enacting Bill 108, Schedule 2.
This document does not go far enough to place CAs in a central role of watershed planning and management, or in working collaboratively with other municipalities and planning authorities. The CAs have a mandate to ensure the conservation, restoration and responsible management of Ontario’s water, as well as the land and natural habitats; however, municipalities have no such mandate and are more development oriented. It is essential that municipalities are not just using this Watershed Planning Guidance purely for municipal land use planning or a stormwater management tool, but that CAs play a central role, and it is used as an integrated watershed planning and management framework.
First, we understand that the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) is working on a summary document to help the public understand the proposed amendments to the Conservation Authorities Act (CAA) contained in Bill 139. As of the date of this letter, this additional explanatory information is not publicly available and the current deadline for comments is June 30, 2017. The public will better informed about the implications of the proposed amendments with the explanatory document in hand. And, as the Environmental Bill of Rights, 1993 (EBR) provides for “means by which residents of Ontario may participate in the making of environmentally significant decisions by the Government of Ontario” (s2(3)(a)), effective public participation is facilitated by ensuring there is adequate time to consider the potential impacts of the proposed amendments.
Second, as Bill 139 contains more than simply amendments to the CAA, consideration of the impacts has the potential to be complex and warrants more than 30-days for the public to be able to effectively provide feedback. Continue reading
The undersigned have prepared the following comments in response to the proposed amendments to the Conservation Authorities Act (per Schedule 4, Bill 139). These are our preliminary submissions on this matter; we reserve the right to provide more fulsome and detailed comments as Bill 139 moves through the legislative process. We appreciate the opportunity to provide our input and look forward to working with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry to ensure natural resource conservation, restoration, sustainable development and wise management in Ontario’s watersheds.
In addition to our submission regarding the Conservation Authorities Act Review Discussion Paper, dated 19 October 2015, ORA is very pleased to provide our recommendations on what has been identified as the five priorities for updating the Conservation Authorities Act…. Continue reading
An EBR posting for the Conservation Authorities Act Discussion Paper is closing today.
Conservation authorities have played a significant role in Ontario’s natural resource management landscape for nearly 70 years, establishing a successful legacy of resource stewardship and an impressive record of protecting people, property, and communities from water-related natural hazards (e.g. flooding, drought, erosion).
In order to ensure that the Act is meeting the needs of Ontarians in a modern context, the MNRF is seeking to engage with ministries, municipalities, Aboriginal communities, conservation authorities, stakeholders and the public to initiate a review of the Conservation Authorities Act, including addressing roles, responsibilities, funding and governance of conservation authorities in resource management and environmental protection. Continue reading