Our Conservation Authorities are Vital for a Sustainable Future. We Sent Comments to the Conservation Authorities Act Review

By Don Kerr

The review of the Act was initiated by Ministry of Natural Resources in July 2015. We commented on the consultation paper in September 2015. The Ministry and their consultant produced another document in May 2016 to which we made many of the same comments in our submission of July 2016. They have announced that phase 3 of consultations will not occur before Spring 2017. We don’t know why it is being stretched out so long.

Meanwhile, the Conservation Authorities struggle with inadequate funding and an obsolete Act. Our recommendations include:

  1. The need for an oath of office for Board members to avoid conflict of interest versus the interest of the municipalities from which they come.
  2. The need to restore funding from the Provincial Government to what it was in mid-1990s. A declaration of insufficient provincial revenue is not an acceptable excuse for failing to provide these services that are essential for maintenance of our quality of life.
  3. Establishment of a program for securing land that contributes to meeting the targets of the Ontario Biodiversity Initiative.
  4. Allowing enforcement officers to enter private land to inspect potential harm to sensitive flora and fauna. (Currently, they need reasonable suspicion of harm to enter private lands).
  5. We recommend increased staff to monitor and enforce the level of phosphorus, silt and sediment eroded from ski hills into streams flowing into Georgian Bay.
  6. We propose that primary reviews of zoning applications for compliance with Provincial Policy Statements be performed by the Conservation Authority. Currently, the applicant does this review with the CA involved as peer reviewer without authority to determine compliance except for assessment of “natural hazard.” The CA is more independent and impartial.