By Deborah Martin-Downs, Chief Administrative Officer, Credit Valley Conservation
Over the past year there has been a lot of news about conservation authorities (CAs). Much of it stems from changes the province is making to the Conservation Authorities Act.
Often stories have focused on our role in regulations and permitting. Other times, supporters have voiced concerns that CAs won’t be able to provide the programs and services communities rely on.
My life has intersected with conservation authority programs for decades. Only once in all that time has it been around regulation.
We are so much more than regulators.
One of my early memories is attending a conservation authority outdoor education centre in winter and tracking mice in the snow. In university we’d take a break from studying to cross country ski at our local conservation area. For my master’s degree I partnered with Credit Valley Conservation as I gathered data about fish in the Credit River.
My children planted their first trees with conservation authority staff at sites being restored for healthy habitat. My son worked summers at a conservation area learning valuable job skills.
As a volunteer I helped develop a watershed plan for the Don River and worked alongside Toronto and Region Conservation to implement those recommendations. For the last 15 years I’ve worked for two different conservation authorities.
My granddaughter Mackenzie – future conservation steward
Conservation authorities offer programs and services that focus on watershed management and improvements. We work with farmers and rural landowners to make positive changes to their land. In urban areas we help neighbours build resilient neighbourhoods.
We monitor water, flora and fauna to document conditions and use that data to help clients make informed decisions.
We work closely with municipalities. We provide our technical expertise through planning and environmental assessment processes to help protect and manage water and the natural environment today, and for the future.
We have staff on watch for flooding, or ice jams, sometimes drought, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. They apply modelling tools to predict flooding and warn those who may be in danger. And yes, those people live in regulated areas.
It’s time – more than ever – to stand up for your local conservation authority.
The province is asking questions about the work of conservation authorities in an online survey. The deadline for your comments is March 13.
I invite you to get to know us. Join us to plant a tree or sample some maple syrup. Come hike a trail or learn how green spaces are important for your health and wellbeing.
And then share your story about why #ConservationMatters to you.