Category Archives: Government of Ontario

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.

New Public Health Measures Implemented Provincewide to Keep Ontarians Safe

Government Reinforcing the Importance of Following Public Health Advice to Help Stop the Spread of COVID-19

In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, and other health experts, the Ontario government has amended order O. Reg 364/20: Rules for Areas in Stage 3 under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020, to tighten public health measures in response to the recent rise in cases of COVID-19.

Over the past five weeks, Ontario has experienced an increase in the rate of new COVID-19 cases. Private social gatherings continue to be a significant source of transmission in many local communities, along with outbreak clusters in restaurants, bars, and other food and drink establishments, including strip clubs, with most cases in the 20-39 age group. To ensure the continued health and safety of Ontarians, reduce the risk of transmission, and limit future outbreaks of COVID-19, the amended order will apply province-wide effective 12:01 a.m. on Saturday September 26 and will:

  • Apply additional measures and restrictions to restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments (including nightclubs) by prohibiting the sale of alcohol after 11 p.m., and prohibiting the consumption of alcohol on the premises after 12:00 a.m. until 9:00 a.m. (including employees), and requiring establishments to close by 12:00 a.m. and remain closed until 5:00 a.m. except for takeout or delivery;
  • Close all strip clubs across the province; and
  • Require businesses or organizations to comply with any advice, recommendations, and instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health on screening for COVID-19.

“Last week our government took immediate action to respond to the recent rise in COVID-19 cases, by setting new limits for certain social gatherings and organized public events across Ontario. As the number of cases have continued to rise, it is evident that despite the tremendous efforts of Ontarians further action is required to prevent the spread of the virus. On the advice of Ontario’s public health officials, we are moving forward with these measures to help keep Ontarians safe by limiting the potential for exposure in locations where the current risk of transmission is higher, and to avoid future lockdowns. Protecting the health and wellbeing of Ontarians will always remain our top priority.”

Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health
Lower Limits for Unmonitored and Private Social Gatherings in Ottawa, Peel and Toronto Regions (September 17, 2020)

In addition, the province will work with the municipal sector and other partners to encourage increased enforcement of existing businesses, facilities, workplaces, etc. to comply with all public health and workplace safety measures and restrictions in the Stage 3 regulation. The Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts continue to closely monitor the evolving situation to advise if public health measures need to be further tightened.

ONTARIO TRILLIUM FOUNDATION GRANT STRENGTHENS CONSERVATION PROJECTS AT RIVERWOOD

Over $200,000 in funding will support volunteers and environmental protection work in Mississauga

Thanks to a generous grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF), The Riverwood Conservancy (TRC) will be able to make enhancements to our environmental conservation and restoration projects within Riverwood park, a 150-acre natural space in the heart of Mississauga. The OTF grant for $213,800 will support projects at Riverwood from September 2020 through August 2023.

Each year, hundreds of volunteers from Mississauga and the Greater Toronto Area participate in conservation work at Riverwood. This grant will help TRC expand the types of conservation work volunteers engage in and give volunteers the opportunity to take part in wildlife monitoring and citizen science.

“We’re really looking forward to giving our volunteers even more engaging activities so they can really see the impact of their work. Volunteers will be able to monitor native plant survival and record their wildlife sightings so they can see the difference they’re making on the health of our local ecosystems.”

Derek Stone, Conservation Specialist at The Riverwood Conservancy

“We’re incredibly grateful for this funding, which will ensure Riverwood’s natural ecosystems can continue to sustain an abundance of wildlife, and allow our community to enjoy more meaningful connections to nature. These sort of connections to the natural world matter even more now, as so many of us have had to restrict our time outdoors.”

Douglas Markoff, Executive Director of The Riverwood Conservancy

The Riverwood Conservancy’s grant application, and the OTF’s approval of the application, were completed before the COVID-19 pandemic. Restoration projects and volunteer activities on site will commence only when public health guidelines allow, and proper safety precautions will be implemented when work begins.

About The Riverwood Conservancy

The Riverwood Conservancy is the charity that provides programs and direction for Riverwood – the 150-acre, urban nature preserve situated on the shores of the Credit River in Mississauga. Working together with like-minded groups and individuals, our mission is to enable people of all cultures, ages, and abilities to respectfully connect with nature and learn about the importance of protecting, conserving and restoring natural spaces for the well-being of future generations – all while experiencing the beauty of the Riverwood gardens.