Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP says conservation authority changes are necessary
Bruce Grey Owen Sound MPP Bill Walker says changes that affect conservation authorities are necessary.
The province has introduced legislation as part of an omnibus budget bill that would strip conservation authorities’ power over development projects. The province could issue what are called Ministerial Zoning Orders that would override conservation authority decisions. Walker believes authority’s have long had too much power and some need to be held more accountable.
“What we have done with this bill is that there needs to be more accountability. We’re bringing this in and we’re going to try to work with people to move forward in my mind because we need to do it in the province for the greater good,” says Walker.
Walker cites examples of people having to wait months and years for permission to, say, clean out a culvert.
“I believe conservation authorities play a very significant role in our society but I also think there are some out there that aren’t accountable, that we’re going to do whatever we want and our Minister has said that’s not good. We have had people and groups and organizations coming to us saying there is some need to have accountability and all of a sudden the sky is falling.”
Opponents of the legislation say conservation authorities would no longer be able to adequately protect environmentally sensitive areas from development. In protest, seven members of the Greenbelt Council have resigned, including its chair, former Toronto Mayor David Crombie.