Modernizing conservation authority operations - Conservation Authorities Act

ERO number
Notice type
Conservation Authorities Act, R.S.O. 1990
Posted by
Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
Notice stage
Proposal Updated
Proposal posted
Comment period
April 5, 2019 - May 21, 2019 (46 days) Closed
Last updated

Update Announcement

We have updated the notice with a link to the proposed Bill. The comment period on this proposal has been extended by one day, to May 21, 2019.

May 10, 2019

This consultation was open from:

April 5, 2019
to May 21, 2019

Proposal summary

We are proposing to introduce amendments to the Conservation Authorities Act, which if passed, would help conservation authorities focus and deliver on their core mandate, and to improve governance.

Proposal details

Conservation Authorities Act

The Conservation Authorities Act, an Act introduced in 1946, enables programs and services that further the conservation, restoration, development and management of natural resources in watersheds in Ontario. Under the Act, 36 conservation authorities were created at the request of municipalities. They are governed by municipally appointed representatives to deliver local resource management programs at a watershed scale for both provincial and municipal interests.

The initial focus of conservation authorities was to prevent flooding, erosion, drought, and deforestation through improved land, water and forestry management practices. As extreme weather, particularly heavy rains and flooding becomes more frequent due to climate change, the core frontline role that conservation authorities play in our communities is becoming increasingly important. Since the 1940s when the Act was established, the programs and services delivered by conservation authorities have expanded. Conservation authorities are the second largest landowners in Ontario, next to the Province; collectively they own and manage 146,000 hectares of land in Ontario.

Summary of proposed changes

We are proposing to make amendments to the Conservation Authorities Act, an Act introduced in 1946 that would, if passed:

  • clearly define the core mandatory programs and services provided by conservation authorities to be, natural hazard protection and management, conservation and management of conservation authority lands, drinking water source protection (as prescribed under the Clean Water Act), and protection of the Lake Simcoe watershed (as prescribed under the Lake Simcoe Protection Act)
  • increase transparency in how conservation authorities levy municipalities for mandatory and non-mandatory programs and services. Update the Conservation Authorities Act an Act introduced in 1946, to conform with modern transparency standards by ensuring that municipalities and conservation authorities review levies for non-core programs after a certain period of time (e.g., 4 to 8 years)
  • establish a transition period (e.g. 18 to 24 months) and process for conservation authorities and municipalities to enter into agreements for the delivery of non-mandatory programs and services and meet these transparency standards
  • enable the Minister to appoint an investigator to investigate or undertake an audit and report on a conservation authority
  • clarify that the duty of conservation authority board members is to act in the best interest of the conservation authority, similar to not-for profit organizations.

We are also proposing to proclaim un-proclaimed provisions of the Conservation Authorities Act related to:

  • fees for programs and services
  • transparency and accountability
  • approval of projects with provincial grants
  • recovery of capital costs and operating expenses from municipalities (municipal levies)
  • regulation of areas over which conservation authorities have jurisdiction (e.g., development permitting)
  • enforcement and offences
  • additional regulations.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is consulting on a proposal to streamline and focus conservation authorities development permitting and role in municipal plan review. For more information, visit Environmental Registry 013-4992.

In the spring 2019, we will also develop and consult on a suite of regulatory and policy proposals to support the proposed amendments to and proclamation of un-proclaimed provisions of the Conservation Authorities Act.

Purpose of Act

As extreme weather events increasingly threaten our homes, businesses and infrastructure, conservation authorities play a key frontline role in helping Ontario families and businesses prepare for the cost and impact of climate change in their communities.

Conservation authorities also play an important role in Ontario’s land use planning and environmental protection process. They not only help protect people and property from extreme weather, such as flooding and other natural hazards, but they also are essential to protecting sources of drinking water and conserving our province’s natural resources.

It important that conservation authorities refocus on delivering their core mandate.

To support this, the government is consulting with stakeholders and the public on how conservation authorities can improve delivery of their core programs and services, as outlined in our made-in-Ontario Environment Plan.

Please see Bill 108, More Homes, More Choice Act, 2019 for proposed legislation.

Supporting materials

View materials in person

Important notice: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, viewing supporting materials in person is not available at this time.

Please reach out to the Contact listed in this notice to see if alternate arrangements can be made.

Great Lakes and Inland Waters Branch

40 St. Clair Avenue West
10th floor
Toronto, ON
M4V 1M2

Office phone number


Commenting is now closed.

The comment period was from April 5, 2019
to May 21, 2019

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Carolyn O’Neill

Phone number
Email address
Great Lakes Office

40 St Clair Avenue West
Floor 10
Toronto, ON

Office phone number

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