Conservation Authorities Act review

18 October 2015

Today, the Greenspace Alliance sent comments to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, in response to a Discussion Paper (EBR # 012-4509, posted July 20, 2015) reviewing the Conservation Authorities Act.

Key recommendations:

  • The right to appeal a Conservation Authority (CA) permit decision should not be exclusive to the proponent.
  • CAs could increase transparency, accountability and collaboration with the community.
  • The Province must restore core funding of CAs.
  • The Act should be amended to give CAs the authority to issue stop work orders.
  • CAs could play a larger role in the fight against invasive species.
  • The CAs in Eastern and Southeastern Ontario could be given a specific mandate to foster protection of the Algonquin-to-Adirondacks corridor.
  • CAs could be tasked with providing or supervising the environmental assessment of the impact of development proposals.

The full submission is here.

Additional resource material:

The Discussion Paper (1.5 MB)  |  Comments by Conservation Ontario (paper ; appendices – 1 MB)  |  A Summary of CO’s comments  |  Legislative proposals made by CO, 2001-2012

12 May 2016

In a next round, the Ministry has released another 20-page Discussion Paper (EBR 012-7583), listing its “Priorities for Renewal” and things the Ministry “could” do under each. 

9 September 2016

The Greenspace Alliance sent in a comment, responding to the three questions posed in the Discussion Paper and indicating what Actions it recommends under each of the five priorities identified by the Ministry.  Here is our submission.  It concurs with several of the Actions proposed by the Ministry and reiterates several of the recommendations of our October 2015 submission.

26 September 2016

The Ministry made a report (1.4 MB) available that summarizes the feedback received during five “stakeholder engagement sessions” held earlier this year.  The Greenspace Alliance was represented at the Ottawa session.  Our representative noted that the framework was imposed by the Ministry; specifically, a suggestion for a firmer science basis in law and practice did not make it into the report.  (We included the point in our submission.)

31 May 2017

Yesterday, the government introduced Bill 139 which includes amendments to both the Conservation Authorities Act and the Planning Act (re OMB reform).  EBR Notice No. 013-0561 states:

In the coming weeks the ministry will be posting ‘Conserving our Future: A Modernized Conservation Authorities Act’ which outlines the suite of legislative, regulatory, policy and program changes proposed to be made as a result of the review.

Bill (139), the Building Better Communities and Conserving Watersheds Act was introduced in the legislature on May 30, 2017, and proposes the outlined amendments to the Conservation Authorities Act that will enable the regulatory and policy changes contained within the Conserving Our Future document.

Comments may be made until June 30, which is surprising given that we’ll receive the comprehensive document only “in the coming weeks.”  But MNRF explains:

…the ministry is currently seeking feedback on the proposed legislative amendments to Act. … The ‘Conserving our Future: A Modernized Conservation Authorities Act’ document will outline additional future policies and programs proposed as a result of the review. Policy changes are being taken in a phased approach and will be subject to further consultation as appropriate. The ministry is proceeding with proposing changes to the legislation first.

E.D. (rev. 2 June)

UPDATE – 14 June 2017

The Ministry has changed its mind: The comment period has now been extended to July 31, 2017.

And the supporting document, Conserving our Future: A Modernized Conservation Authorities Act, is now available from the EBR web site at EBR 012-7583; direct link (1.6 MB, 102 pp.): The posting says: “The release of ‘Conserving our Future: A Modernized Conservation Authorities Act’ represents the conclusion of the Conservation Authorities Act review.” Stage 1 of its implementation is legislative amendments (EBR 013-0561).

Also on this day, Conservation Ontario (the agency that represents the Province’s 36 Conservation Authorities) issued a media release saying they are pleased with the changes proposed by the government.