Province puts it hands around the throats of the Conservation Authorities

News 100 greenBy Staff

November 23rd, 2020



The core mandate of Conservation Authorities across the province is being threatened by an item that was included in a Budget Bill, Budget bill issues do not require public comment.  The changes will be debated in the Legislature only.

Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan and Mayor Meed Ward sent a memorandum to their Council  colleagues.

It is worth a wider audience.

The attached resolution is in response to changes made by the provincial government to the Conservation Authorities Act and Planning Act.

Despite not being related to budget issues, it has been added into the budget bill. As a result, there is no requirement for public comment. Nevertheless, we must make our voice heard.There are numerous unacceptable changes. In summary:

Developers will now be able to bypass conservation authorities

Escarpment - view to fields

Escarpment is a large part of what defines the city.

The permitting process ensures development does not occur in flood hazard areas and that our creeks, valleys and wetlands are not adversely impacted. Permits will be allowed to be approved by the province directly rather than through conservation authorities.

RESULT: less protections for the community and environment, and increased risk to public safety.

Parks could be threatened

Under the new legislation the ministry could set fees or other limits on non-mandatory programs and services.

RESULT: Conservation Halton’s ability to provide important recreational, educational, and employment opportunities that allow our community to interact with conservation will be significantly diminished. All of these opportunities are provided at no cost to taxpayers and benefit all recreation users in the area.

Governance of Conservation Halton will be undermined, potentially politicizing the body

The changes demand that board members represent their municipalities rather than acting in the best interests of Conservation Halton (against all board best practices).

Conservation Halton sign - angleRESULT: Conservation Halton could be politicized as board members would be expected to promote their municipalities’ interests which sometimes conflict with the best interest of Conservation Halton. The directors carry out their fiduciary responsibilities, guide strategy, approve policies in support of our provincial and municipal responsibilities and track performance. They ensure CH makes decisions with integrity, based solely on our  responsibilities and remains apolitical, yet innovative and solution oriented. That could all be lost as we will be obliged to act otherwise according to the draft legislation.

Hamstringing science and conservation protections

The legislation creates new workarounds to undermine conservation authorities.

This is the rural Burlington residents want to keep - walking trails and quiet countryside.

This is the rural Burlington residents want to keep – walking trails and quiet countryside.

RESULT: Independent science-based decisions in the interest of the community will be significantly limited; our wetlands, valleys, and water will be at risk; the ability to remedy violations that put our environment and communities in danger will be minimized.

Conservation Halton’s mission is to help protect the natural environment, from lake to escarpment, for the benefit and enjoyment of current and future residents. Supporting our natural heritage benefits human, ecological, and economic health. We inherited our natural spaces from the generations before us and will pass them on to our children and future generations.

Our duty as stewards is what continues to inspire us to use science to study and inform us about climate change impacts to our communities and mitigation strategies. Make no mistake, all of this is at risk through this legislation.


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7 comments to Province puts it hands around the throats of the Conservation Authorities

  • Richard Guest

    Well said John Birch

  • John Birch

    The accountability thing – long overdue.
    Everyone has to be accountable to somebody. CA’s are accountable to nobody, and that’s just bad governance leading to wastefulness and inefficiency. If done right, this initiative could work to improve efficiency and governance which is sorely needed with some Conservation Authorities.
    No, I’m not a conservative voter.
    – JB

  • Perryb

    What is alarming is that this may only be the tip of the iceberg. Ford’s government has been using the pandemic as cover to get back to its original program of undoing anything the previous government put in place in favour of developer-friendly rules and union-busting. Might have been worth it if they had addressed the covid problem, but it’s now clear they were over their heads and at a loss on what to do.

  • Luke

    Any response from the leader of the Ontario Liberal 7?

  • Steve.

    Conservation authorities? I prefer elected officials to have the last say, and that way if their decisions are unpopular, the public has a direct vote in it.

    • Perryb

      Steve, once omnibus bills and unrelated (hidden) add-ins to other legislation become routine, tremendous damage can be done before the public can vote on it, or even find out about it. Do you know what your MPP Is doing/voting on these days?

      • Steve.

        Case in point. When the social engineers decided that a bicycle lane was need on New St., and a vehicle lane eliminated to accommodate the infinitesimal number or bicyclists, there was political blowback against those thought the tail wagging the dog was the way to go. Also the overcrowding of the downtown is another example. It might take longer to address the issues but at least the public has a say in those who ultimately make those decisions.