Conservation Ontario asking province to move along consultations regarding Conservation Act

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Conservation Ontario is asking the Province to move phase 1 and phase 2 consultations related to changes to the Conservation Authorities Act along as quickly as possible in order to meet the very tight timelines involved in implementing the changes.

Conservation Ontario Manager of Policy and Planning, Bonnie Fox, says one of their concerns is they feel that passive recreation opportunities should be classified as mandatory programs and services so they can continue to allow public access to those lands through things like hiking trails or boat launches.

“So many of these conservation areas that have trails, a comfort station that municipalities and others have invested in, now if we can’t access the money to maintain those, then the concern would be that they have to be closed to the public.”

Fox says they also have some concerns about Private Land Stewardship, which includes things like tree planting and soil erosion control. She says some of their conservation authorities have been doing those things for many years.

“Some of the authorities have been doing them for decades, as a way of minimizing flood or drought and the impacts of those and so we’re asking for those to be considered part of the Natural Hazard Mandatory program.”

Fox says recognition of the watershed framework is also important to them because conservation authorities pull together all of the municipalities in a watershed and help those municipalities deal with issues that are often outside of their municipal boundaries. Ultimately, she says they’re focused on making sure that the new regulations allow the conservation authorities continue to have the tools to protect people, property and the environment.