Government of Ontario Proposes Amendments to the Conservation Authorities Act

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Proposed Amendments | TRCA’s Comments | About the Conservation Authorities Act


Proposed Amendments to the Conservation Authorities Act

The Government of Ontario is proposing updates to the Conservation Authorities Act and associated regulations. The proposed amendments are described and posted online on the Environmental Registry of Ontario (ERO) for the public to provide comment:

  • Modernizing Conservation Authority Operations – Conservation Authorities Act
    ERO #013-5018
    (comment period closes May 20, 2019)
  • Focusing Conservation Authority Development Permits on the Protection of People and Property
    ERO #013-4992
    (comment period closes May 21, 2019)

TRCA’s Comments

Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) has reviewed the proposed amendments and consulted with its municipal partners, Conservation Ontario and other stakeholders to consider the implications of what is proposed. We have submitted our comments to the Province through the ERO:

More recently, the Province has also introduced Bill 108, entitled the “More Homes, More Choices Act,” as part of its Housing Supply Action Plan. Schedule 2 of this omnibus bill contains proposed revised wording of the amendments to the Conservation Authorities Act.

As such, TRCA is expecting to provide additional comments by separate letter, which will be posted here once submitted.

TRCA continues to consult with its municipal partners and Conservation Ontario on interpreting the proposed legislative amendments and their potential implications for the work of conservation authorities.

What is the Conservation Authorities Act?

The Conservation Authorities Act is a made-in-Ontario solution for managing renewable natural resources and protecting people and property through a prevention-first approach that is built around the management of watersheds.

The purpose of the Conservation Authorities Act is:

“to provide for the organization and delivery of programs and services that further the conservation, restoration, development and management of natural resources in watersheds in Ontario.”

The Act authorizes the formation of conservation authorities in Ontario and addresses their roles, responsibilities and governance in resource management and environmental protection.

Introduced by the Ontario Provincial Legislature in 1946 in response to concerns about the state of renewable natural resources in the province affected by poor land, water, and forestry practices at the time, the Act allows municipalities in a common watershed to petition the province to establish a conservation authority.

The “objects” of a conservation authority and the powers it has to achieve these objectives are all set out in the Act.

What are conservation authority development permit regulations and why are they important?

Section 28 of the Conservation Authorities Act sets out prohibited activities that include development in areas that could be unsafe for development because of natural processes associated with flooding or erosion, and interference with, or alterations to, watercourses, wetlands or shorelines.

Currently, each of Ontario’s 36 conservation authorities has its own section 28 regulation, which is consistent with the provisions in the current Act and the Province’s “content regulation” for conservation authorities, Ontario Regulation 97/04. TRCA’s section 28 regulation is Ontario 166/06.

Many municipal governments rely on their local conservation authority to help communities understand, look after and enjoy the natural environment and to increase residents’ and businesses’ awareness of flood and erosion hazards that can threaten people, property and infrastructure.

The provincial government has indicated that losses from flooding and other natural hazards in Ontario are lower than in other jurisdictions, due largely to the planning and regulatory approaches delivered by conservation authorities.