The Government of Ontario is undertaking consultations to ensure conservation authorities focus and deliver on their core mandate of protecting people, property, and natural resources from the threats and impacts of extreme weather and flooding.
“Conservation authorities help protect our people and their property from extreme weather, preserving sources of drinking water, and conserving our province’s natural resources,” said Rod Phillips, minister of the environment, conservation and parks. “The people of Ontario need our conservation authorities to be focused on dealing with the impacts of climate change and we must be certain that resources are being directed to programs and services that have the greatest impact on our communities while ensuring effective use of public funding.”
As committed to in its Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan, the province is consulting stakeholders and the public to ensure taxpayer dollars are being used effectively, and as extreme weather, particularly flooding, becomes more frequent due to climate change, that conservation authorities remain focused on their core mandate.
“Our government is putting people first to help communities and families prepare and respond to climate change,” said John Yakabuski, minister of natural resources and forestry. “Improving the efficiency and effectiveness of our regulations is a critical component of our government’s strategy for strengthening Ontario’s resiliency to extreme weather events.”
Ontario is also looking at updates to the Conservation Authorities Act, an act introduced in 1946, to improve public transparency and consistency:
- Update how conservation authorities use municipal levies to pay for programs and services.
- Streamline and standardize the role conservation authorities play in permitting and municipal planning, reducing overlap, and making approvals faster and less costly.
- Improve conservation authorities’ governance and accountability.
These recommended changes are part of the Government of Ontario commitment to support conservation and environmental planning and improve Ontario’s resilience to climate change.
- Ontario has 36 conservation authorities – 31 in Southern Ontario and five in populated areas in Northern Ontario. Over 90 per cent of Ontarians live within the jurisdiction of a conservation authority.
- Conservation authorities undertake a wide range of local resource management programs and services, with significant programming diversity amongst conservation authorities. They have a legal mandate to take action to protect sources of drinking water.
- Losses associated with flooding and other natural hazards in Ontario are lower than those experienced in other jurisdictions due to Ontario’s prevention-first approach, achieved in part through the planning and regulatory approaches delivered by conservation authorities.