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Council supports Quinte Conservation plea to repeal bill proposing changes to Conservation Authorities

Quinte Conservation has gained Prince Edward County council’s support to fight proposed changes to the Conservation Authorities Act and the Planning Act.

Changes proposed Nov. 5 in the Ontario government’s 2020 Ontario Budget (Bill 229), “significantly affect the role Conservation Authorities (CAs) have in protecting Ontarians, and their property, from flooding and other natural hazards,” said Brad McNevin, Quinte Conservation’s CAO. “Further, the changes risk removing or limiting the watershed science-based approach conservation authorities across Ontario have been using to ensure safe development on or around valuable water sources and sensitive lands.

“Bill 229 is supposed to protect, support, and help us recover from COVID-19,” said McNevin. “Schedule 6 of the Bill, which proposes changes to Conservation Authorities, does nothing to help us accomplish this and should be repealed.”

Councillors agreed at Tuesday night’s meeting, and will show the municipality’s support of the Conservation Authority in sending a letter to various MPPs and provincial ministers.

Quinte Conservation outlines key outcomes and changes to include:
· Remove and/or significantly hinder the conservation authorities’ role in regulating development, permit and planning application appeal process and engaging in review and appeal of municipal planning applications

· Allow the minister to make decisions on permit appeals and issue permits without watershed data and expertise from the conservation authorities

· Redirect the fiduciary role (duty of members) for municipally appointed CA board members. They are being told to make decisions in the best interest of the municipalities and not the conservation authority.

“For over 75 years, we have been working effectively with local municipalities, partner groups, and watershed residents to deliver programs and services that benefit our local communities,” said McNiven. “If passed, the changes to the Conservation Authorities Act will jeopardize the local decision making process, thus eliminating the necessary watershed-based approach needed to ensure the continued protection of our residents and environment.”

He noted Quinte Conservation remains positive the province’s intent to modernize the watershed-based scope will be achieved, but is firm the proposed changes will significantly reduce conservation authority abilities to safeguard watershed residents’ and their property from natural hazards while acting in the best interest of preserving and protecting Ontario’s environment and resources.

Individuals can learn more about the proposed changes at QuinteConservatio.ca.

QC is encouraging watershed residents, partner groups, and municipalities to reach out to the Premier, local MPPs, the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, and The Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry and request they review and address the concerns presented by the bill before enacting it.

Quinte Conservation is a community-based environmental protection agency serving 18 municipalities in the watersheds of the Moira, Napanee and Salmon Rivers and Prince Edward County.

Filed Under: Local News

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