TRCA Responds to the More Homes Built Faster Act and Associated Postings and Proposed Changes to Housing and Land Use Policies

October 28, 2022, Toronto, Ontario – Earlier this year, the province unveiled a Housing Affordability Task Force report which introduced 55 recommendations to increase the supply of market housing in Ontario. Conservation authorities were unnamed in the report, as Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) works proactively with the development industry and all levels of government to ensure that well planned development can happen safely while maintaining nature’s beauty and diversity.

The housing legislation that the province introduced this week, outlining the next phase of Ontario’s plan to build more homes faster, is concerning as it includes changes to the Planning Act and Conservation Authorities Act that will diminish TRCA’s well-established role in protecting our communities from flooding and supporting our municipalities in protecting the natural environment. Today, in response to the proposed changes, TRCA’s Board of Directors passed a unanimous resolution requesting the removal of certain clauses from the legislation that would limit or reduce our existing responsibilities.

The protection of the environment is a non-partisan issue as watersheds, precipitation, and gravity do not recognize geographical boundaries or political parties. TRCA as a science-based, technical agency collaborates tirelessly with our partner municipalities, the province, and the development industry to support responsible development in our watersheds while providing access to nature in urban areas.

The most practical approach to avoiding the impacts of flooding is prevention, for which TRCA plays a crucial role on behalf of our six upper-tier and fifteen lower-tier municipalities representing almost 5 million people. According to the legislation, conservation authorities will be prohibited from commenting on conservation and environmental matters, except for flooding and erosion – specifically TRCA will not be able to offer its expertise on ecology, natural heritage, wetlands and biodiversity for proposals under prescribed Acts including the: Aggregate Resources Act, Condominium Act, Drainage Act, Endangered Species Act, Environmental Assessment Act, Environmental Protection Act, Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act, Ontario Heritage Act, Ontario Water Resources Act and the Planning Act. This proposed approach is a direct departure from recent provincial amendments to the Act – allowing municipalities to choose whether to ask conservation authorities for technical advice based on their specific needs.

Across the Greater Toronto Area, our municipalities and government agencies rely on TRCA expertise to inform their environmental assessments and to provide input on official plans, studies, and development applications. TRCA also helps these parties to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change. TRCA works with our municipal and provincial partners to facilitate development and support infrastructure that aligns with the province’s plans to build more homes while protecting natural features and ensuring communities are safe from flooding and erosion. This is in keeping with our long-standing role, as designated by the province, to represent the provincial interest on natural hazards.

For example, TRCA is working with industry and governmental partners to flood protect and enable redevelopment of mixed-use communities in flood vulnerable areas of the GTA including the Toronto Waterfront and Lower Don Lands and to set the stage for future redevelopment of Urban Growth Centers in Brampton, Vaughan, and Markham. Furthermore, TRCA leverages our watershed expertise and resources for cost effective partnerships with municipalities and industry to inform municipal official plans and deliver infrastructure projects. TRCA’s success is grounded in the relationships we hold with our partner municipalities, who actively choose to work with our organization given our history of consistently delivering value-added programs and services on-time and on-budget.

TRCA has been a valued member of the province’s multi-stakeholder, solutions-oriented Conservation Authority Working Group for the past two years which produced solutions and guidance to help streamline and create certainty for development. We are hopeful that the province will leverage the Conservation Authority Working Group prior to finalizing this legislation and any future regulations and policies.

In regards to the province’s request to find housing sites within our real estate portfolio, every potential TRCA property acquisition is evaluated according to our publicly available and provincially approved greenspace acquisition project which is informed by numerous factors including but not limited to: (i) the degree of flood and erosion risk, (ii) the significance of the lands to the greenspace system, (iii) the nature and immediacy of the threat to the greenspace, and (iv) the ability to conserve and maintain the greenspace in the future.

The conservation, enhancement, and integration of natural areas is of utmost importance given the impacts of urban development, intensification and the compounding effects of climate change, and there is little ability for TRCA to achieve new housing developments on our land portfolio. We do, however, continually review our real estate holdings, in conjunction with our partner municipalities, to determine whether any non environmentally sensitive lands could support housing, infrastructure or other community uses.

Conservation authorities are the first line of defence in preventing and reducing the impacts of flooding, which is the leading cause of public emergency in Ontario. The most practical approach to avoiding the impacts of flooding is prevention including informed land use and infrastructure planning that recognizes the interrelationship between natural hazards and broader environmental issues. Conserving natural resources and features is intrinsically linked to managing flooding and erosion. TRCA plays a critical role in working with our municipalities and the province to inform the planning and regulation of development to minimize flood risks within watersheds. The province’s own Special Advisor on Flooding, Doug McNeil, in his 2019 report recommended that the province support municipalities and conservation authorities during land use planning due to their vital role in protecting Ontarians and reducing risks and disasters that are occurring in other parts of Canada where conservation authorities do not exist. In recent years, both Alberta ($5 billion) and British Columbia ($9 billion) have suffered catastrophic losses associated with flooding, costs which are only expected to continue to rise in the future as climate change events become more prominent, yet conservation authorities remain the fundamental reason why Ontario has not seen impacts to this extent.


About Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA)
Since 1957, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), as enabled through the provincial Conservation Authorities Act, has taken action to enhance our region’s natural environment and protect our land, water, and communities from the impacts of flooding and increasingly extreme weather events – Ontario’s leading cause of public emergencies.

As the region’s first line of defence against natural hazards, TRCA maintains vital infrastructure and provides programs and services that promote public health and safety, protecting people and property.

TRCA mobilizes a science-based approach to provide sound policy advice, leveraging its position as a not-for-profit operating in the broader public sector to achieve collective impacts within our communities and across all levels of government.

TRCA’s jurisdiction includes nine watersheds and their Lake Ontario shorelines, spanning six upper-tier and fifteen lower-tier municipalities and representing almost five million people, approximately 10% of Canada’s population.

To learn more about TRCA, visit


Media Contact

Michael Tolensky
Chief Financial and Operating Officer
Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA)