More Flooding Ahead with powerless Conservation Authorities

There is an adage that you don’t recognize the value of something until it is gone.  We are on the verge of losing something which effectively reduces flood risks and is instrumental in having clean drinking water.  I am speaking of the attack on the Conservation Authorities (CA’s).  Within a bill of budgetary measures in response to COVID-19 there is a schedule 6 which essentially emasculates the CA’s.  If you agree that the CA’s are important you need to make your opposition known quickly as  Bill 229 is being rushed through given the urgency of the budget; further below there is information how to do so.

I do not claim to understand it completely but here is one angle which I really do understand.  The propsoed amendments to the Conservation Authority Act includes the following. The duty of Board members of a Conservation Authority will no longer include acting to “further the objects” of a conservation authority which are protect Ontario’s environment, ensure people and property are safe from natural hazards and apply watershed-based decisions on development. Rather the duty of members (all of whom are elected municipal council members) will be to act on behalf of their respective municipality. Mandating “silo thinking” or “what’s in it for me” decision making is shocking and not in the public interest.  Imagine there being an initiative which impacts the Humber River in Vaughan; the King Board member should not concern him/herself with it as its downstream of King! Even worse is that Board members are expected to make decisions based on their own municipality’s needs as opposed to providing governance such that the CA’s do the job for which they have been created.

Given the impact of climate change, specifically the change in weather whereby we are experiencing fiercer, frequent rainfall this is not the time reduce the capability of our CA’s to reduce flood risk.  All the greenfields in King (i.e. undeveloped lands which are zoned for development, both residential and commercial) have watercourses, wetlands, and other natural heritage features.

It is the CA’s who draw the line where a road can be built, where property lots can be established to protect people and property from flooding.  They draw those lines based on the science of the watershed.   And sometimes the proponent (i.e. developer) or the municipality don’t like where that line is; but their “wants” are denied.

If you share my concern please write your MPP asking him to tell his colleagues, the  Ministers of Municipal Affairs & Housing and Ministry of Natural Resources & Forestry to repeal or amend the proposed changes to the Conservation Authorities Act and the Planning Act as included in Bill 229. Alternatively, sign the petition at ontarionature.org.

And if you want to hear some other assessments of how serious the risk is look at the Hamilton Spectator. 

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