CAMBRIDGE – The Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) is sending a report to the Ontario government outlining the reasons it hopes the province will reconsider some changes it proposed in Bill 229: Protect, Support and Recover from COVID-19 Act (Budget Measures).
The GRCA held a special board meeting on Nov. 23 where it discussed the proposed changes and how they would impact the work of the conservation authority.
“If enacted, a number of these changes will significantly impact the role of the conservation authority board to establish and subsequently offer programs and services,” reads a press release from the GRCA on Nov. 24.
“As well, the proposed amendments will enable regulations that would either limit or completely change the role of conservation authorities in protecting Ontario’s environment and ensuring people and property are safe from natural hazards like flooding.”
Among the recommendations in the GRCA report:
– remove the ability for the minister to prescribe standards and requirements for non-mandatory, municipal and local programs and services;
– the amendment to the Planning Act be removed from Schedule 6 of Bill 229;
– replace references to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal with the Mining and Lands Tribunal;
-the existing unproclaimed clauses in the Conservation Authorities Act 2019 related to Powers of entry (30.2) and Stop Order (30.4) remain in the Conservation Authorities Act;
– the wording for fiduciary responsibilities in the Conservation Authority Act be amended back to: “Every member of an authority shall act honestly and in good faith with a view to furthering the objects of the authority”; and
– a future regulation regarding the transition plan have an implementation date that is 18 to 24 months after the regulation is approved.
“In the Grand River watershed, the GRCA plays a critical role in protecting our environment and natural heritage, mitigating the impacts of flooding and other natural hazards, ensuring safe drinking water and supporting municipal partners with Planning Act applications,” said GRCA Chair Helen Jowett.
“This legislation introduces a number of changes that could remove or significantly limit the GRCA’s ability to manage watershed natural resources and ensure people and property are safe from natural hazards.
“I would encourage watershed municipalities and residents to contact their local MPP and ask that the Province of Ontario work with conservation authorities to address our shared concerns before these changes are enacted.”