Changes to the Conservation Authorities Act and Planning Act Present Potential Risks to People, Property and the Environment

Credit Valley Conservation (CVC) has reviewed the proposed changes to the Conservation Authorities Act and Planning Act released in the provincial budget on November 5.

While we wait for updated regulations under the Conservation Authorities Act to fully understand how the changes are to be implemented, we are encouraged that the act continues to provide for conservation, restoration, source water protection and natural resource management at the watershed level. We also support enhanced transparency and accountability, which represent best practices and the high level of service we provide our partners, stakeholders and watershed residents.

However, the proposed changes would reduce the effectiveness of conservation authorities to protect the natural environment as well as public health and safety. These changes serve to erode our ability to manage lands containing natural hazards and wetlands, build flood resilience in the face of climate change and preserve critical natural features. CVC’s key concerns are:

  1. Proposed changes to the Conservation Authorities Act would authorize the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry to issue an order to take over and decide a development permit application in place of a conservation authority. Additionally, a permit applicant can request that the Minister review a conservation authority’s decision about a permit application (approved with conditions or denied), at which point the Minister can make any decision, including issuing a permit.
     
    CVC and all Ontario conservation authorities are science-based, non-partisan public sector organizations that review permit applications consistently through the requirements set forth under section 28 of the Conservation Authorities Act. Granting permitting authority to the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry 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.
     
    Conservation authorities regulate lands containing natural hazards and wetlands at the watershed level because natural systems cross municipal and property boundaries. Questionable development decisions can have significant and lasting impacts to a property, adjacent properties and downstream communities.
  1. 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 will provide the ability to stop significant threats to life, property and environmentally sensitive areas before having to resort to costly fines and prosecution.
  1. The CVC board acts on behalf of the watershed and its residents to ensure good corporate operations and management. Proposed changes would direct board members to act only on behalf of the municipality they represent rather than on behalf of the watershed and its residents. This is contrary to proper board governance and contradicts recent recommendations by Ontario’s Auditor General.
  1. Consequential changes to the Planning Act would bar conservation authorities from appealing a municipal planning decision to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT), unless requested through an agreement with the municipality or the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. This tool is a necessary but seldom used tool in our toolbox.
     
    This change would also remove our right to appeal planning decisions as a landowner. This is of significant concern as CVC owns and manages over 7,000 acres of land for habitat protection, community recreation and flood hazard management.

Since 1956, Ontario’s conservation authorities have defined and defended the floodplains to ensure public safety and property protection, often on behalf of our municipal partners, using a variety of tools present in the Conservation Authorities Act and Planning Act. Removing some of these tools from our toolbox may allow individuals to circumvent checks and balances that exist to ensure the safe development of communities and the protection of sensitive environmental features.

We encourage our municipal partners, watershed residents and our network of supporters to reach out to the Premier, the Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, as well as local MPPs over the next week to ask that they address the concerns outlined above before the bill is enacted.

About Credit Valley Conservation:

Credit Valley Conservation (CVC) is a local conservation authority established by the Ontario government in 1954 to protect, restore and enhance the natural environment of the Credit River Watershed. Our watershed is defined by the area of land where all rainfall, snowmelt and runoff drains into lands and waters flowing into the Credit River. CVC creates connections between people and nature, knowledge and action. We inspire a deep appreciation for the role of nature in keeping people connected, healthy and happy. CVC is a member of Conservation Ontario.

Ontario Moves Public Health Unit Regions into COVID-19 Response Framework to Keep Ontario Safe and Open

TORONTO — In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, local medical officers of health, and other health experts, the province intends to move Ontario’s public health unit regions to the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework. The framework categorizes public health regions into five levels: Green-Prevent, Yellow-Protect, Orange-Restrict, Red-Control, and Lockdown being a measure of last and urgent resort.

“The framework lays out a proactive and graduated response to be applied based on the local situation in each region,” said Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “By working with the medical officers of health and local authorities on the realities and situations of COVID-19, we want to continue to help protect people’s health and wellbeing. We are adapting the public health measures to be as targeted and efficient as possible to stop the spread of the virus, while managing any outbreaks as quickly as possible.”

At the request of the local medical officer of health, and with the support of Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Toronto Public Health would remain in a modified Stage 2 until November 14, 2020.

As of Saturday, November 7, 2020 at 12:01 a.m., public health unit regions would be moved to the following levels:

Lockdown:

  • No public health unit regions.

Red-Control:

  • Peel Regional Health Unit.

Orange-Restrict:

  • Ottawa Public Health; and
  • York Region Public Health.

Yellow-Protect:

  • Brant County Health Unit;
  • City of Hamilton Public Health Services;
  • Durham Region Health Department;
  • Eastern Ontario Health Unit;
  • Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit;
  • Halton Region Public Health;
  • Niagara Region Public Health;
  • Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services;
  • Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit; and
  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health.

Green-Prevent:

  • Algoma Public Health;
  • Chatham-Kent Public Health;
  • Grey Bruce Health Unit;
  • Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health;
  • Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit;
  • Hastings Prince Edward Public Health;
  • Huron Perth Public Health;
  • Lambton Public Health;
  • Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit;
  • Middlesex-London Health Unit;
  • North Bay Parry Sound District;
  • Northwestern Health Unit;
  • Peterborough Public Health;
  • Porcupine Health Unit;
  • Public Health Sudbury & Districts;
  • Renfrew County and District Health Unit;
  • Southwestern Public Health;
  • Thunder Bay District Health Unit;
  • Timiskaming Health Unit; and
  • Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.

Public health measures required for each level can be found in the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework.

For long-term care homes, visitor restrictions remain in effect for the following public health unit regions: Ottawa, Peel, Toronto, and York Region.

“COVID-19 will be with us for awhile, which is why we have put in place a framework that introduces more public health measures sooner to limit transmission of COVID-19 in our communities while avoiding broader closures,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “We are committed to being transparent with Ontarians, businesses and local communities as we work together to keep Ontarians safe, while keeping our economy open.”

The Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework takes a comprehensive, whole of government approach by introducing preventative measures earlier to help avoid broader closures and allow for additional public health and workplace safety measures to be introduced or removed gradually. It ensures that public health measures are targeted, incremental and responsive to help limit the spread of COVID-19, while keeping schools and businesses open, maintaining health system capacity and protecting vulnerable people, including those in long-term care.

Trends in public health data will be reviewed weekly. At the same time, the government will continually assess the impact of public health measures for 28 days, or two COVID-19 incubation periods to determine if public health units should stay where they are or be moved into a different level.

The Ontario government is making $300 million available to businesses required to close or significantly restrict services in areas subject to modified Stage 2 public health restrictions, or, going forward, in areas categorized as Control or Lockdown. As a result, businesses in these areas will be able to apply for temporary property tax and energy cost rebates directly to the province through a single, online application portal.

As the province continues to expand access to real-time data, enhancements are also being made to Ontario.ca/coronavirus, Ontario’s one-stop shop for information on COVID-19. Information about the spread of the virus, and public health and health system capacity will now be available on the website. This includes local cases by public health unit regions, the total number of cases, resolved cases, deaths, and tests completed and how many are positive. This information will better help businesses, organizations and local communities access key information to prepare in advance for any changes in their region.

Mississauga Arts Council announces The Art of Wellness Initiative

The Mississauga Arts Council (MAC) wishes to catalogue the ways in which creative experiences help to improve mental wellbeing in Peel. 

Today MAC announces The Art of Wellness Initiative, led by Susan Ksiezopolski, award-winning poet and founder of WriteWell. Susan is an experienced art practitioner who has developed, Write to Heal, Creative Resilience and Write Your Story workshops helping people explore creative writing as a path to wellness. 

“Expressing ourselves through artistic creative processes has many tangible health benefits, reduces isolation, gives us a sense of connection and lifts our spirits”

Susan Ksiezopolski

“Gathering evidence about the impact of the arts for improving health and wellbeing of those with moderate mental health issues points the way to better using creative experiences in healthcare protocols,” says Mike Douglas, Executive Director of the Mississauga Arts Council. “Cataloguing mental health services provided by artists in Mississauga and the Region will show these mental health benefits in action.” Through a Trillium Foundation Seed Grant, MAC is hosting the Arts for Mental Health Conference in the spring of 2021. 

“The Art of Wellness documentary will spotlight the important role the arts can play in effectively treating people with high stress, anxiety and depression,” says Dr. Colin Saldanha, member of the Arts for Mental Health Steering Committee. 

“This is a good news story,” says Committee Chair, Anna Silgardo, founder of Artists in Momentum, adding that, “The effects of mental illness are malignant and damaging – it can destroy individuals and families. It knows no boundaries. We need to mobilize a defence mechanism to halt and uproot its advance. What better means than art!”

The project begins next week and MAC is calling on all local artists who are currently leading arts programs for mental wellness goals, to please contact the video producers using the subject line Mental Wellness and the email: media@mississaugaartscouncil.com.

Help Shape our City! Planning for a Vibrant and Connected “Uptown Node”

The City’s Uptown Node is growing rapidly. Located around Eglinton Avenue and Hurontario Street, the Uptown Node has several buildings under construction with new mixed-use developments on the horizon. The Uptown Node will also be served by a stop on the future Hurontario Light Rail Transit (LRT). To help guide this growth, the City of Mississauga is preparing an Official Plan Amendment (OPA) for the Uptown Node. We want to hear your feedback on the draft policies we’ve developed to address:

·       Retention of office and retail space

·       Affordable housing as part of new developments

·       New street locations

·       Block sizes

·       Future park locations

How to Have Your Say:

There are many ways to share your feedback on the draft Uptown Node policies:

1.     Attend the Virtual Community Meeting: On Monday, October 5, at 12:30 p.m., our planning team will walk through a live presentation and moderated Question-and-Answer session. Register here to attend.

2.     Share Your Comments: Between October 9 and October 23, review the proposed draft policies for the Uptown Node on yoursay.mississauga.ca/uptown and share your feedback using our Comment Box.

3.     Attend the Statutory Public Meeting:  On Monday, October 19 at 6 p.m., the draft OPA will be presented to the City’s Planning and Development Committee. The report will be available one week prior to the meeting. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the public are encouraged to participate online. Advance registration is required to attend the meeting in person due to limited seating. Read the official public notice to learn more.

Learn more about the Uptown Node, sign up for email updates, share a comment or ask a question anytime by visiting the Uptown Node engagement website.

Background:
The City’s Official Plan provides policies that guide and direct the physical change of the city. It manages the effects on Mississauga’s social, economic, cultural and natural environment.

First-Ever Online Mississauga Comic Expo Touches Down October 9

It’s back in a new virtual format! The annual Mississauga Comic Expo (MCX) returns this October. Event activities take place on October 9, 16, 23 and 24 as part of Ontario Public Library Week. Admission is free with registration.

MCX features local Mississauga and Greater Toronto Area (GTA) graphic artists, novelists, creators, designers and developers. Hosted by Mississauga Library, this family-friendly, all-ages event celebrates the diverse culture of comics, gaming, anime, cosplay and art.

This year’s online event highlights comic artists and authors, along with guest speakers from publisher Manga Classics and a panel from the Honours Bachelor of Game Design Program at Sheridan College.

Other guest speakers include authors Christina ‘Steenz’ Stewart, Jillian Tamaki, Johnnie Christmas and Sam Maggs. There will also be sketch challenges featuring Jamal Campbell, Sanya Anwar, Marcus To, Paris Alleyne, Anoosha Syed and Megan Huang. 

Visit Mississauga Comic Expo on Facebook or Twitter for updates.

To register for the event, visit activemississauga.ca/.

Event Details

What:
Mississauga Virtual Comic Expo

When:
Friday, October 9 & 16         7 – 8 p.m.

Friday, October 23                5 – 8 p.m.

Saturday, October 24           1 – 4 p.m.

Where:
Online Event

Register at activemississauga.ca/

Cost:
Free

This program is made possible with funding provided by the Friends of the Mississauga Library System. Follow Mississauga Library on InstagramFacebook and Twitter.