Newsletter Signup

Conservation Halton Media Release: Cause for Alarm Over Proposed Changes to the Conservation Authorities Act

LOGO_Conservation Halton

*Please see below a media release issued by Conservation Halton.

For Immediate Release

November 12, 2020

BURLINGTON — Conservation Halton (CH) has reviewed the Province’s proposed changes to the Conservation Authorities Act (CA Act) which were released last week in the 2020 Ontario Budget (Bill 229).

CH is encouraged that the purpose of the Act to provide for the organization and delivery of programs and services that further conservation, restoration, development, and management of natural resources in Ontario watersheds remains. CH remains fully supportive of the Province’s stated intent to modernize the watershed-based scope, good governance, service delivery and sustainability of all Conservation Authorities (CAs).

CH is, however, concerned that some of the proposed amendments will significantly diminish the ability of CAs to ensure that both people and property are safe from natural hazards, while also protecting Ontario’s environment.

The proposed amendments would grant new powers to the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry that would allow the Minister to make decisions regarding permit applications and appeals in place of the CA, without the non-partisan technical input and expertise of CAs. Bill 229 also proposes amendments to the Planning Act, which if passed, would prohibit CAs from appealing a municipal planning decision to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) or becoming a party to an appeal before LPAT.

While there are currently checks and balances in place to ensure the safe development of communities, CH is concerned that new amendments will allow circumvention that leaves the possibility for development decisions that are both unsafe and negatively impact the environment.

“There are a number of disappointing proposed changes that have the potential to undermine conservation authorities and our ability to make science-based watershed management decisions in the interest of public health and safety. Living through the pandemic, we have seen first-hand just how important our environment and wetlands are to our residents. We do not want to see any decisions made that increase the risks from natural hazards, especially as we continue to work to mitigate climate change and conserve our watershed to allow for responsible growth today, without sacrificing the right of future generations to do the same.” — Hassaan Basit, CEO of Conservation Halton

CH views the governance changes calling for municipal councillors to make up the sole membership of the Board, while also being instructed to represent the interests of their respective municipalities, and not those of the CA or watershed residents, extremely problematic. This will create an environment in which fiduciary duties and responsibilities to the conservation authority are not upheld.

Further, CH is disappointed in the proposed removal of the un-proclaimed stop work orders and limitations on power to entry provisions that this government had previously agreed to grant CAs. The removal of this tool takes away the ability to enforce regulations that keep life and property safe. It also diminishes the ability to address environmental violations early and work with stakeholders to remedy problems, leaving no tools but to pursue costly and time-consuming charges through the courts when violations occur.

While CH waits for updated regulations to better understand how the proposed amendments are to be implemented, it is concerned that there may be many unintended consequences that put the environment and communities at risk, through opaque and financially costly decisions.

As a result of these collective concerns, CH encourages residents of the watershed, its network of supporters, and partner municipalities to reach out to the Premier, the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, as well as their local MPPs over the next two weeks to request that they review and address its concerns before this Bill is enacted.

-30-

Conservation Halton is the community based environmental agency that protects, restores, and manages the natural resources in its watershed. The organization has staff that includes ecologists, land use planners, engineers, foresters and educators, along with a network of volunteers, who are guided by a Board of Directors comprised of municipally elected and appointed citizens. Conservation Halton is recognized for its stewardship of creeks, forests and Niagara Escarpment lands through science-based programs and services.

Media Contact:
Stephanie Bright
Public Relations Specialist
Conservation Halton
Email: sbright@hrca.on.ca

MAYOR MEED WARD’S TAKE:

The proposed changes to the Conservation Authorities Act put the environment and people at risk of flooding and natural hazards, creates more red tape and hinders the role of CAs in regulating development. I encourage residents to contact their local MPPs now and let them know how you feel about these proposed changes.

*Posted by John Bkila, Mayor’s Media and Digital Communications Specialist.

Receive new post notifications by email

1 thought on “Conservation Halton Media Release: Cause for Alarm Over Proposed Changes to the Conservation Authorities Act”

  1. I contacted MPP Jane McKenna’s office today about this. We need stronger protection of our forests and wetlands and natural areas, not less. I see no evidence that the proposed changes to the CA Act will benefit environmental protection. I hope Burlingtonians speak up with a unified voice on this. Nature needs us. We need nature.

What's your take?

Here are guidelines before you comment, and our expectations before we will post:

  • Be civil. Would you speak this way to a good friend? If not, rewrite.
  • Focus on the issues. Build your argument and make your case in support of your opinion from facts, research or other sources. That way we can all learn. “I disagree with so-and-so because…” is fine; “So-and-so is naïve/stupid  for thinking the way he/she does and here’s why…” is not acceptable.
  • Don’t make personal attacks. Don’t assume motives of those you disagree with, make unfounded allegations, spread rumours, or engage in any other behaviours that would discourage you from participating if someone said this to, or about, you. The Golden Rule applies: Do unto others as you would have done to you. We will edit or not post comments with this type of content.
  • Say it once: When comments from the same individual or individuals become repetitive, going over ground already stated, we reserve the right to close commenting.
  • Use your full, and real, name. If wish to make a comment in public, we expect you will publicly stand behind it with your name. If you don’t want to publicly reveal your name, that’s fine; you are always welcome to share your thoughts with me privately via my email below. I welcome and consider all feedback in making decisions for the community.
  • Have fun, consider and learn. Share your views and read those of others. May we all benefit from a healthy exchange of ideas, and learn a little more about the people in our community, what you think, and what’s important to each of you. You may end up changing your mind about an issue; even if you don’t, we hope everyone will gain a greater understanding of why people have different perspectives.

Newsletter Sign Up

Phone: 905-335-7607
Email:  mayor@burlington.ca

Media Specialist: John Bkila
john.bkila@burlington.ca
905-335-7600