Puslinch supports Conservation Halton’s bid for consultation by province

ABERFOYLE – Puslinch is supporting Halton Conservation in its efforts to be consulted by the provincial government before it takes actions to limit conservation authorities to simply providing core services.

On Sept. 18, Puslinch quickly endorsed a resolution  advising Premier Doug Ford and Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks Jeff Yurik that Puslinch supports the Halton Conservation discussion paper.

Councillor Matthew Bulmer said he supported Halton Conservation as actions by the province could lead to the loss of use of land many residents now enjoy – whether they are parks or other lands that are owned by the conservation authority.

“More conservation authorities might look to eliminating properties if they are designated as not core services.

“If we lose those recreational spaces, it only increases the burden on the municipality to replace them with more parks, more activities and more spaces,” Bulmer added.

“If we lose these lands we will have to make up for them some other way,” he said.

“I think it is important the province gets the message that some of the things they may not see as core to conservation authorities do have benefits to the residents.”

A letter from the conservation authority to the premier states its programs and services are within their mandate as defined by the Conservation Authority Act and that there are no programs that divert focus from helping municipalities grow and manage risks associated with flooding hazards.

The letter also stated Conservation Halton uses zero tax dollars to manage and operate conservation areas and generates a surplus which offsets significant costs (about $2.5M in 2018) that would otherwise be funded through municipal tax levies.

Conservation Halton employs about 800 seasonal workers, mostly youth, which in turn support local businesses and tourism.

A recent discussion paper released by Conservation Halton noted that it, along with other conservation authorities, had anticipated provincial consultations for the development of regulations that will define these mandatory programs and services and what specifically is captured under them.

“By taking away the ability for CAs, and specifically Conservation Halton to develop financial partnerships with municipalities and develop revenue-generating programs, not only will you decrease the employment opportunity for youth in the region and increase the taxpayers’ bill for core programs but you will also limit, if not eliminate, our capacity to invest in these conservation areas to make them more accessible for a rapidly growing population.”

The paper stated, “we believe that the Conservation Halton Board and participating municipalities should be allowed the time to consider the full implications to their watersheds before reducing any programs or freezing fees and levies.”