02/17/2006

AMO continues to have substantive issues with the lack of a municipal role in areas of policy development and, in the area of implementation, having a substantive, but apparently unfunded mandate.
AMO President Doug Reycraft presented AMO’s submission on Bill 43 today to the Standing Committee on Social Policy.  AMO expressed concern about the proposed Clean Water Act, noting that municipalities have not been heard on three issues fundamental to municipal government: municipal role, extensive new liabilities and lack of stable funding. 

Background:

The Government gave first reading to Bill 43, the Clean Water Act on December 5, 2005. AMO has participated in the government convened Advisory and Implementation Committees, and has responded to the two reports produced by these committees. This legislation responds to recommendations in Part Two of the Walkerton Inquiry Report, which directed that sources of drinking water be protected. 

The proposed legislation establishes conservation authorities and source water committees to prepare source water plans. Municipalities will be given extensive new responsibilities to implement the plans once approved by the Minister of the Environment.

AMO’s submission to the Standing Committee focused on the following three areas:

I. Lack of Stable Funding 

According to the proposed legislation, municipalities will bear the burden of updating and defending Municipal Official Plans, addressing impacts to existing municipal services and programs such as waste treatment plants, and providing for the costs of the permit official and inspectors including all associated responsibilities and liability issues. To date, the Province has not addressed the issue of a funding source for these new responsibilities.

II. Liability

The new role of enforcing provisions of the Source Water Plans carries an inordinate amount of liability. The majority of municipalities do not have the capacity in either expertise or funding to take this role.

No municipality should be burdened by the liability.

III. Roles and Responsibilities

Municipalities have had ongoing concerns with our limited role of a commenting body during the preparation, submission and approval of all aspects leading up to and including the Source Water Plan. This limited commenting role is a serious disconnect, which needs to be corrected in the legislation. 

AMO understood that municipalities will be the lead in the preparation and decision making around wellhead protection and intake zones. The legislation does not currently reflect this.