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Changes to the Conservation Authorities Act

Backgrounder January 13, 2022

Municipal Implications

Protecting Ontario’s natural resources and biodiversity helps to preserve the economic development, recreation, and wellness opportunities provided by the natural environment. One way that municipal governments protect the natural environment is through conservation initiatives. Many municipalities are key funders of the 36 Conservation Authorities (CAs) across Ontario.

Bill 108, the More Homes, More Choice Act, 2019 introduced major amendments to the Conservation Authorities Act. Between May and August 2021, the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks consulted on Phase 1 of the Regulatory Proposals under the Conservation Authorities Act. These regulations were finalized on October 7, 2021.

AMO is encouraged to see more detail around mandatory (Category 1), non-mandatory (Category 2) and other programs and services (Category 3) for CAs.  Phase 2 of the consultation will focus on the municipal levy and implementing policy and is expected soon.

The amendments also require CAs to enter into memoranda of understanding or other such agreement with municipal governments on service delivery to avoid duplication, especially where planning and development are concerned. AMO believes that such agreements between the municipal government and CAs will increase transparency on what CAs are required to do, what is discretionary, and how this impacts the municipal levy.

AMO is working with Conservation Ontario and the provincial government to ensure a smooth transition into the new service delivery system. AMO is in discussions with the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry and the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks on the implementation of these changes, including the implementation of Phase I regulations. Additionally, AMO will continue to press for a better funding model that reflects that CAs work largely supports provincial interests.

Background

There are 36 Conservation Authorities in Ontario. They are local watershed management agencies, mandated to ensure the conservation, restoration and responsible management of Ontario’s water, land and natural habitats through programs that balance human, environmental, and economic needs. They were created by the provincial government through legislation (Conservation Authorities Act, 1946).

While CAs cover vast amounts of watershed, not all municipal governments are covered by a CA.

Contact:

Amber Crawford
Senior Advisor