Bill 229, the Protect, Support and Recover from COVID-19 Act (Budget Measures), 2020, was passed into law on December 8, 2020. Among other things, it curtails the mandate of conservation authorities in Ontario. In its most recent newsletter, the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) outlines status and implications:
Conservation Authorities, Land Use Planning & MZO's - A Recap
It has been a wild ride since the Ontario government introduced Bill 229. In a new blog post, CELA Special Counsel, Healthy Great Lakes, Anastasia Lintner gives us a recap. She talks about the enormous public opposition that arose in response to Schedule 6 of Bill 229 and its impacts on Conservation Authorities, what happened after Bill 229 was introduced, and what's next for Conservation Authorities and land use planning in Ontario.
Key next steps will be watching for public consultation opportunities connected to the new Conservation Authority Working Group that has been tasked with considering the first phase of proposed regulations for Conservation Authorities.
For more in-depth information on how conservation authorities and Minister’s Zoning Orders are connected, and the importance of science-based planning to protecting Ontario’s clean water and air, check out this webinar hosted by Ontario Nature and Environmental Defence, with guest speakers David Crombie, former Chair of the Greenbelt Alliance, and Anastasia Lintner, Special Counsel, Healthy Great Lakes at CELA.
Schedule 6 of of a new omnibus bill, Bill 229, the “Protect, Support and Recover from COVID-19 Act”, currently before the legislature, will drastically curtail the mandate of conservation authorities in Ontario.
Conservation authorities work with municipalities and other agencies to manage, restore, and protect natural and water resources through:
It is not too late to oppose Schedule 6 of Bill 229. Conservation Halton provides outstanding information on the issue here. We strongly recommend that you visit the site and inform yourself. While there, you can send an email to Stephen Crawford, our MPP. Sending the email is easy. All it takes is a few clicks. Please note that people are beginning to receive stock responses to their complaints regarding Schedule 6. Environmental Defence has provided information to counter these claims.
Even better, if you have time, is to send a written submission to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs by December 2, 2020 at 5:00pm. This committee is currently reviewing Bill 229 before it is returned to the House for its third reading. We have a sliver of time in which to provide public input. Click here for a detailed guide for sending a written submission to the committee. Due to weird technical mysteries, none of the links in the guide work so you will have to flip back and forth between the guide and the Standing Committee "Request to Participate" site. Furthermore, you will not be able to copy the suggested text for your submission from the guide. You will need to copy it from here:
I/We am/are strongly opposed to the proposed amendments to the Conservation Authorities Act through Schedule 6 of Bill 229 which seek to curtail or prohibit the mandate of conservation authorities within Ontario. Please repeal Schedule 6 in its entirety and allow for more public input.
These proposed changes seek to:
• curtail planning reviews of development applications,
• limit the scope of conservation authorities,
• allow the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry to directly approve development applications with little or no technical review from conservation authorities, and
• mandate the appointment of board members to be municipal elected officials only, giving rise to conflict of interest and compromised fiduciary duties
We value conservation authorities and all the critical work they do through:
i. planning reviews of development applications to ensure development does not occur in or along flood plains, watersheds, wetlands or our Natural Heritage Systems
ii. educational programs and festivals, especially with the youth, about natural habitats, safe drinking water, endangered species, and climate change
iii. advocating for sustainable forest management and wildlife habitat improvements
iv. managing parks and green spaces allowing us to commune holistically with nature, and
v. facilitating stewardship programs to help us all contribute toward climate resiliency.
Good luck, and many thanks!!