Provincial funding for conservation authority programs, which warn people about flooding and protect properties from costly damages, has been reduced by half as a result of the 2019 Ontario Budget.
Using a watershed-based approach, conservation authorities (CAs) deliver flood management programs across Ontario, partnering with stakeholders such the provincial government, municipalities, and others. Prior to this reduction, a total of $7.4 million in provincial funding was shared across the 36 CAs towards this work.
“The impacts of these reductions will vary from CA to CA, however, they will all be felt immediately, particularly in smaller and more rural conservation authorities.” said Kim Gavine, general manager of Conservation Ontario.
Gavine explained that cutting natural hazards funding is particularly problematic right now in light of the fact that – like everywhere else – Ontario is experiencing stronger and more frequent flood events as a result of climate change impacts.
Conservation authorities have a variety of responsibilities around flood management in Ontario. These include:
- Forecast flooding and issue warnings
- Monitor streamflow, rainfall and snow packs
- Floodplain mapping
- Manage and operate $2.7 billion in flood infrastructure such as dams and dykes
- Provide planning support and advice to the Province, municipalities and the federal government to minimize flood impacts
- Regulate development activities in floodplains
- Contribute to municipal emergency planning and preparedness activities as well as recovery activities
- Inform and educate the public about flooding
- Protect, restore and rehabilitate natural cover that contributes to reducing the impacts of flooding
Conservation Ontario represents Ontario’s 36 conservation authorities, which are local watershed management agencies. They are 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.