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Ontario Conservation Authorities Act Phase 1 regulations finalized


October 13, 2021
By Ground Water Canada

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Newmarket, Ont. – Ontario has released Phase 1 regulations designed to implement amendments to the Conservation Authorities Act and many of Conservation Ontario’s concerns and challenges identified during the consultations have been addressed including extended implementation timelines and inclusion of passive recreation activities as a mandatory program and service.

“We are appreciative of the Minister and his officials’ willingness to listen and respond to
Conservation Ontario’s and other stakeholder suggestions,” said Andy Mitchell, chair of
Conservation Ontario. Conservation Ontario represents Ontario’s 36 conservation authorities. Mitchell pointed out that the extended timelines are very necessary for conservation
authorities and their member municipalities to establish funding agreements properly, and the
general public will benefit from the additional support conservation areas’ passive activities can receive as part of a mandatory program.

The regulations will give conservation authorities until Jan. 1, 2024, to complete the
transition to a new budgetary framework with their municipalities. These extended timelines will provide sufficient time for conservation authorities to prepare a transition plan, finalize an inventory of programs and services, and enter into Memorandums of Understanding and/or Agreements with their participating municipalities.

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The regulations were finalized with assistance from the provincially appointed multi-stakeholder Conservation Authorities Working Group, which includes Conservation Ontario and a number of conservation authorities as well as representatives from the municipal, agricultural, and development sectors.

The Working Group has been meeting regularly with the Province since early this year to
identify ways to effectively implement the proposed regulations.

The purpose of the regulatory consultation was to ensure effective implementation of the
regulations as well as to improve conservation authority transparency, accountability, and
consistency. The provincial Working Group was established in late December 2020.

The Phase 1 consultations focused on details of the programs and services conservation
authorities will implement and how they will be funded.

The provincial government will now consult on a second phase of the proposed regulations including details on municipal levies as well as standards for the delivery of other types of programs and services.