Bill 229 - Ontario Budget Bill includes schedule to update Conservation Authorities Act
Breaking news: On December 6th David Crombie and six others resigned from the Greenbelt Council in response to the government refusing to withdraw Schedule 6 from Bill 229. On the weekend, the government introduced new amendments to the Bill which added a new provision stipulating that once a MZO has been issued, the local conservation authority must issue a permit – even if it believes the project violates environmental rules. On December 9th, a seventh member of the Greenbelt Council resigned. Read more here.
On November 5th the Government of Ontario introduced its new budget Bill 229 Protect, Support and Recover from COVID-19 Act (Budget Measures), Included in Schedule 6 2020. Like all budget bills, it includes changes to many different legislations. Of note for OSSGA members are changes to the Conservation Authority Act under Schedule 6 of Bill 229 which the government is implementing “to improve transparency and consistency in conservation authority operations, strengthen municipal and provincial oversight and streamline conservation authority roles in permitting and land use planning.” Also like all budget bills – the changes are not open for public consultation and have been posted on the Environment Registry of Ontario for information purposes only.
The changes most relevant to OSSGA are the government’s move to:
- Further, define the core mandate of the CAs. Once defined, they are requiring CAs and municipalities to enter into formal agreements with municipalities for the delivery of any service or program outside of its core mandate.
- Introduce changes to permitting and land use review including giving MNRF the power to take over and decide an application, significant appeal rights and the removal of some stop-work powers.
The government has announced that it will be pursuing further regulatory changes to the Conservation Act – and that those changes will be brought forward for public consultation in the near future.
Bill 229 has now made its way through committee hearings but with a great deal of controversy! Conservation Ontario has launched a campaign to have Schedule 6 removed from the Bill, you can read their release here.
The Association of Municipalities of Ontario's does not support the changes mainly because of governance issues -- view their submission here.
Gowlings has presented a good summary of the changes here.
In advance of the AMO conference in August 2019, Environment Minister Jeff Yurek wrote to Conservation Authorities around the province asking them to “review and consider your own conservation authority's activities and begin preparations and planning to wind down those activities that fall outside the scope of your core mandate.” OSSGA was supportive of this request as it fully coincides with the position we took in our Red Tape submission last Fall.
OSSGA's submission on modernizing CA Operations included recommendations to:
Clarify roles and reduce duplication of effort in review of aggregate applications
To reduce overlap and duplication of effort, we recommend that municipal program and service agreements clarify the CA role in the review of aggregate applications under The Planning Act and the Aggregate Resources Act and restrict CA comments to matters covered under Section 3.1 of the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS 2014). Municipal agreements or memorandums should also recognize the Section 28(11) exemption for activities approved under the ARA.
Aggregate application review fees
OSSGA believes that fees related to the review of aggregate licence applications by Conservation Authorities are an issue that needs to be addressed in the review. There is currently a vast range of fees that different Conservation Authorities charge for the review of aggregate applications.
MNRF Seeks Feedback on Improving Conservation Authorities
Ontario is proposing to introduce amendments to the Conservation Authorities Act to clearly define the core programs and services provided by Conservation Authorities (CAs) and increase transparency in how CAs levy municipalities for mandatory and non-mandatory programs and services. A regulation further defining the ability of a CA to regulate prohibited development and other activities for impacts to the control of flooding and other natural hazards is also being proposed.
The Ministry is proposing to: update definitions for key regulatory terms to better align with provincial policy, exempt low-risk development activities from requiring a permit, reduce regulatory restrictions between 30m and 120m of a wetland where hydrological connection has been severed, require CAs to develop, consult on, make publicly available and periodically review internal policies that guide permitting decisions, require CAs to notify the public of changes to mapped regulated areas, and require CAs to establish, monitor and report on service delivery standards.
The consultation period closes May 20, 2019. For more information visit ERO 013-4992 and ER0 013-5018. OSSGA will be preparing a submission, if you have any comments, please send them to Ashlee Zelek at email@example.com.