Conservation Matters

Conservation Matters

Credit Valley Conservation’s role in protecting and managing the local environment is being threatened by proposed changes to the Conservation Authorities Act and Planning Act. Ontario’s 36 conservation authorities are important agencies that help protect Ontario’s environment. Our science-based watershed information helps steer development to appropriate places where it will not harm the environment or create risks to people and property.

In 1954, Hurricane Hazel, one of the largest storms to hit our province, left a path of destruction as it slowly moved northward into the Greater Toronto Area. The storm stayed in the area for days, causing record flooding, damage to homes and infrastructure in the floodplain and the unfortunate loss of 81 lives. After the disaster, the province placed conservation authorities in charge of making sure development near waterways was done safely.

Although we haven’t seen flooding of that magnitude in many years, flooding across our province, like that seen in the Ottawa region in 2019, reminds us of the risks to life and property and the value of conservation authorities in keeping us safe. Our ability to manage development on lands with natural hazards and wetlands is key to keeping communities safe.

What changed?

Within the Province’s latest budget bill (bill 229), issued November 5, were a number of changes to the Conservation Authorities Act and the Planning Act that will limit conservation authorities’ role in protecting Ontario’s environment and ensuring people and property are safe from natural hazards.

  1. Changes would authorize the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry to take over and decide a development permit application in place of a conservation authority. Conservation authorities are science-based, non-partisan agencies. Granting permitting authority to the Minister would take science out of the equation, effectively politicizing the permitting process and allowing for development that may be considered unsafe or damaging to the natural environment.
  2. One of the reasons the province decided to amend the Conservation Authorities Act is to streamline the planning and permitting process. But the proposed changes will actually create more costs, delays and red tape as multiple avenues of appeal are made available, which will short-circuit the development review process.
  3. Proposed changes would prohibit conservation authorities from independently appealing decisions made around permits and municipal planning applications. This can put more people and infrastructure at risk and add additional stressors to our local environment.
  4. The Credit Valley Conservation board acts on behalf of the watershed and its residents. Proposed changes would direct board members to act only on behalf of the municipality they represent, contradicting recent recommendations by Ontario’s Auditor General. Moreover, for members to act only on behalf of their municipality is counter to the intent of the Conservation Authorities Act, which was to transcend political boundaries for municipalities sharing a watershed to collectively manage and protect its resources.
  5. Proposed changes would remove the un-proclaimed provision for conservation authorities to issue stop work orders, a new tool in our enforcement toolbox that we had long requested from the province. This tool would provide the ability to stop significant threats to life, property and environmentally sensitive areas before having to resort to costly fines and prosecution.

Why does it matter?

Since 1956, Ontario’s conservation authorities have defined and defended the floodplains to ensure public safety and property protection using a variety of tools in the Conservation Authorities Act and Planning Act. Removing some of these tools from our toolbox may allow individuals to bypass the checks and balances that ensure the safe development of communities and the protection of sensitive environmental features. Development in flood prone areas will place added pressure on municipal first responders. Damaged infrastructure will result in costly repairs by municipalities – ultimately paid for by taxpayers.

What can you do?

It’s time, now more than ever, to stand up for your local conservation authority. Respectfully tell your MPP that conservation matters and ask that they remove schedule 6 from the budget bill, so that these significant changes can be properly debated and informed through consultation.

Use this easy-to-use form to find your MPP and send your email in a single step.

Connect with us on social media. Show your support on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #ConservationMatters.

Want to learn more about the proposed changes to the Conservation Authorities Act and Planning Act?
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12 Comment
  • Catherine Parker says:

    I definitely agree that schedule 6 be removed from the budget bill. I think the Credit Valley Conservation
    Board acts on behalf of the watershed and its residents and these important decisions should not be put
    in the hands of board members to act only on behalf of their municipality, but all municipalities sharing a
    watershed should collectively manage and protect its resources. Conservation authorities are non-partisan
    agencies looking out for the well being of the natural environment, without political involvement.

    do a fantastic job and this important

  • Sandra Baker says:

    It is important to me that schedule 6 is removed from the budget. Is this not a sneaky way to make changes. It seems to me if the current government wants to make this type of change, it should be upfront about it, not hide in paperwork. Cowardly.

  • Ellen Karp says:

    This is super important. Please tell me what else I can do to help. We moved to this region from Toronto recently and CVC is one of the best things about living out here.

  • Margaret Young says:

    I am appalled by Schedule 6 of the government’s ‘omnibus’ bill which effectively shuts down the important and informed role of conservation authorities in favour of economic greed. It must be a non-partisan stewardship at the helm of all proposed environmentally significant changes. I am witnessing the destruction of elements of the natural floodplain adjacent to our village where a needless ‘subdivision’ will have a huge impact on natural habitats, forests as well as the quality of life of the residents (some of whom live in homes that are 150 years old). The Conservation Authority is fearlessly attempting to keep the impact to a minimum so I cannot imagine what further chaos there would be if it was in the hands of politicians who would have little to no knowledge or keen interest in the scientific impact of development in these important and sensitive areas.

  • Dave Mattar says:

    I will write to my MPP, and look for this on social media. I do not support schedule 6, I oppose it.

  • David Clarkson says:

    Agree with analysis. Noted Mike’s letter in today’s Star, Also well articulated

  • Steve Maxwell says:

    Hi: I fully agree and support that Schedule 6 should be dropped from the Budget Bill 229. This correction is very important to all current and future generations of Ontarian’s. I actively participate in activities that allow myself and my family and friends to take in all that our well managed waterways and watersheds bring us. It is what helps to keep our sanity during these times. The wildlife benefiting from these sensitive and threatened environments must be carefully managed and well supported.

  • Anne Marie Gariepy says:

    I definitely do not support schedule 6.
    We have to protect our land around the water. We have to save nature and be intelligent when it comes to developers wanting to build around these areas.
    Will contact MPP ASAP. Thank you for keeping us informed.

  • Brenda Dolling says:

    I also do not support schedule 6 and have been signing petitions against it. I’ll speak to my local MPP and continue to protest this regressive change. Thanks, CVC, for all you do for us. You have helped us plant over 24,000 trees and consulted on many issues re: our regenerative farm, e.g. soil health, water conservation.

  • Barbara Karthein says:

    Conservation Authorities have amassed both current and historical information about how their watersheds work for the protection of property values as well as for the healthy environment we need to live in. This information is not only for now but for the future, for our children and beyond, it is based on deep science. Schedule 6 negates all this and the protections in place to keep us and our environment healthy.

  • Pauline Thornham says:

    “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Conservation AUTHORITIES were created in the wake of Hurricane Hazel, which blew through southern Ontario in 1954, in order to prevent over-development, degradation of land, and preventable flooding.
    At a time when we are facing the threat of climate change, increased rainfall, and more severe and frequent storms, it is NOT advisable to take the capacity for oversight away from the non-partisan conservation authorities. Giving such oversight to elected officials, who are prone to influence peddling, is a really bad idea, if making decisions on land use is to is to be fair and wise.
    I call on the Ontario Government to remove Schedule 6 from Bill 229. It’s the only right thing to do.

  • David MacRae says:

    This is all about Doug Ford our premier and his commitment to local developers and his control over LPAT.
    We must speak out because this is not right and does not represent the citizens of Ontario. Recently the local citizens of Erindale Village have lost out to a developer who will be building a high rise development adjacent to the Credit River. The city of Mississauga turned down this application for many reasons including environmental and heritage but LPAT had the audacity to agree with the developer ….. big surprise !
    The Ontario government should be governing on the citizen’s behalf so please remove schedule 6 from Bill 229.

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