Regulatory proposals (Phase 1) under the Conservation Authorities Act

ERO number
019-2986
Notice type
Regulation
Act
Conservation Authorities Act, R.S.O. 1990
Posted by
Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
Notice stage
Decision
Decision posted
Comment period
May 13, 2021 - June 27, 2021 (45 days) Closed
Last updated

This consultation was open from:
May 13, 2021
to June 27, 2021

Decision summary

New regulations have been finalized to focus conservation authorities on their core mandate by prescribing mandatory programs and services they must provide, giving municipalities greater control over what conservation authority (CA) programs and services they will fund, and consolidating “Conservation Areas” regulations.

Decision details

On December 8, 2020, Bill 229, the Protect, Support and Recover from COVID-19 Act (Budget Measures), 2020, which made changes to the Conservation Authorities Act and the Planning Act, received Royal Assent. To implement these changes, 3 new regulations have been filed under the Conservation Authorities Act as part of the first phase regulations:

  • Ontario Regulation 686/21: Mandatory Programs and Services. This regulation prescribes the mandatory programs and services CAs would be required to provide, including core watershed-based resource management strategies. This regulation will come into effect on January 1, 2022
  • Ontario Regulation 687/21: Transition Plans and Agreements for Programs and Services Under Section 21.1.2 of the Act. This regulation requires each CA to have a ‘transition plan’ that would outline the steps to be taken to develop an inventory of programs and services and to enter into agreements with participating municipalities to fund non-mandatory programs and services through a municipal levy. It also establishes the transition period to enter into those agreements. This regulation came into effect on October 1, 2021
  • Ontario Regulation 688/21: Rules of Conduct in Conservation Areas. This regulation consolidates the current individual CA ‘Conservation Area’ regulations made under Section 29 of the Conservation Authorities Act into one Minister’s regulation that regulates the public use of CA owned land. This regulation will come into effect when the unproclaimed provisions of Part VI and VII of the Conservation Authorities Act that deal with development permissions come into effect.

The new regulations will help to improve the governance, oversight and accountability of CAs, while respecting taxpayer dollars by giving municipalities more say over the CA programs and services they pay for.

We are committed to ensuring that CAs are focused on their core mandate, including:

  • helping protect people and property from the risk of natural hazards
  • conserving and managing conservation authority-owned lands
  • their roles in drinking water source protection

A. Conservation authority mandatory programs and services

The mandatory programs and services regulation that has been finalized sets out the following six mandatory programs and services that CAs are required to provide:

1. Mandatory programs and services related to the risk of natural hazards

Each CA will be required to implement a program or service to help manage the risk posed by the natural hazards within their jurisdiction, including:

  • flooding
  • erosion
  • dynamic beaches
  • hazardous sites as defined in the Provincial Policy Statement, 2020
  • low water/drought as part of Ontario’s Low Water response

This program is designed to:

  • identify natural hazards
  • assess risks associated with natural hazards including impacts of climate change
  • manage risks associated with natural hazards and
  • promote public awareness of natural hazards

Managing risks associated with natural hazards may include:

  • prevention
  • protection
  • mitigation
  • preparedness
  • response

2. Mandatory programs and services related to the conservation and management of lands

Each CA will be required to implement mandatory programs and services related to the conservation and management of lands owned or controlled by the CA, including any interests in land registered on title, within their jurisdiction. This includes:

  • preparing a conservation area strategy
  • compiling a land inventory
  • ensuring CAs can continue to maintain trails, facilities, and other related amenities that the public can access in a self-directed nature without CA staffing, facilities or programming (i.e. low maintenance passive recreation including activities such as hiking and picnicking)
  • carrying out programs and services to secure the CA’s interests in its lands to prevent unlawful entry and protect the CA from exposure to liability
  • carrying out programs and services to conserve natural heritage features
  • administering the Minister’s regulations made under section 29 of the Conservation Authorities Act (governing the rules of conduct on land owned by CAs, including permits and enforcement activities)

3. Mandatory programs and services related to other programs or services prescribed by the regulation

Each CA will be required to:

  • continue implementing the provincial stream monitoring program and groundwater monitoring program related to water quality and groundwater quantity monitoring
  • establish a core watershed-based resource management strategy that summarizes:
  • existing technical studies
  • monitoring programs
  • other information on the natural resources the CA relies on within its area of jurisdiction or in specific watersheds that directly informs and supports the effective delivery of mandatory programs and services

4. Mandatory programs and services related to CA duties, functions, and responsibilities as a source protection authority under the Clean Water Act, 2006

CAs will be required to continue implementing the following responsibilities as source protection authorities under the Clean Water Act, 2006:

  • maintaining source protection committees
  • preparing progress reports on the implementation of source protection plans
  • amending source protection plans
  • implementing significant threat policies directed to the authority

5. CA duties, functions and responsibilities under other legislation prescribed by regulation – (i.e. on-site sewage systems as currently prescribed in the Building Code Act):

This category of mandatory programs and services refers to responsibilities that may be assigned to CAs through other legislation and which are proposed to be prescribed in regulation under the Conservation Authorities Act

The North Bay–Mattawa CA will be required to continue implementing programs and services for on-site sewage systems as currently set out in the Building Code Act.

6. Lake Simcoe Region CA duties, functions and responsibilities under the Lake Simcoe Protection Act, 2008

Under the Lake Simcoe Protection Act, 2008, the Lake Simcoe Region CA carries out various duties, functions and responsibilities as set out in the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan. The Lake Simcoe Region CA will continue to carry out these activities.

B. Transition Plans and Agreements for Programs and Services Under Section 21.1.2 of the Act

The transition plans and agreements for programs and services under section 21.1.2 prescribes:

  • the process for CAs to transition to the new funding model for non-mandatory programs and services a CA determines advisable for its jurisdiction and that the CA requires municipal levy to fund. This includes requirement for the preparation by the CA of a transition plan by December 31, 2021 and an inventory of the CA’s programs and services, the process to develop the inventory with participating municipalities by February 28, 2022, and steps taken to enter into agreement(s) with participating municipalities for the use of municipal levies for non-mandatory programs and services the CA determines are advisable in its jurisdiction
  • the regulation sets out a specific time in which the agreements must be finalized (i.e. January 1, 2024)

C. Rules of Conduct in Conservation Areas

The rules of conduct in conservation areas regulation consolidates of each of the current individual CA ‘Conservation Areas’ regulations made under Section 29 of the Conservation Authorities Act into one Minister’s regulation. This new regulation continues to set out the prohibited activities, and activities requiring permits on lands owned by CAs

Regulatory impact analysis

The regulatory impact analysis does not identify any compliance or administrative costs to business, the public or non-profit organizations associated with these regulations. The regulations implement changes to the CAA to improve governance, oversight and accountability of CAs and address concerns previously raised by businesses and municipalities about CAs extending their core mandate and operation.

Administrative costs related to negotiating agreements with participating municipalities for non-mandatory programs and services a CA determines is advisable for its jurisdiction and requires the municipal levy to fund are anticipated to remain about the same since many CAs and municipalities regularly negotiate annual CA budgets as well as agreements to fund various programs and services today.

The proposed mandatory programs and services set out in the regulation reflect the basic programs and services that CAs currently provide. Municipalities will have new abilities to make funding decisions about non-mandatory programs and services that a CA proposes to offer, which may result in savings.

Comments received

Through the registry

237

By email

207

By mail

0
View comments submitted through the registry

Effects of consultation

Consultation on the regulatory proposals took place from May 31 to June 27, 2021.

In total, 444 comments were received.

We received comments from the public, Indigenous communities and organizations, CAs, municipalities, environmental non-government organizations, community groups, industry and the development and agriculture sectors.

As well, the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (ministry) engaged with a working group with representatives from CAs, municipalities and other stakeholders, including those from the development and agriculture sector, as a practical forum to seek feedback on the proposals.

All the feedback received during the commenting period was considered.

Summary of Consultation Feedback:

  • there was general support for the work of CAs in protecting people and property against natural hazards and the value conservation authorities’ lands provide to the public
  • there was general support for efforts to improve transparency in the operations of conservation authorities and some stakeholders were supportive of changes to improve governance, oversight and accountability
  • there were recommendations to enable use of Indigenous knowledge in the work of CAs, to finalize regulations quickly, and increase provincial funding of conservation authorities

Mandatory programs and services

  • there was extensive support for including low maintenance passive recreation activities as a mandatory program and service that a CA delivers
  • there were also recommendations for private land stewardship programs, such as tree planting and streambank rehabilitation, including on agricultural lands, to be offered as a mandatory program or service, and where CAs are managing natural hazards, that they also manage natural heritage and green infrastructure (e.g., reclaiming sites through naturalization)
  • support was also received for the inclusion of a core watershed-based resource management strategy and water quantity/quality monitoring among the mandatory programs and services
  • some submissions recommended that there be flexible and reasonable timelines for the requirement to complete conservation area strategies, land inventories and the watershed-based resource management strategy

Response:

Low maintenance passive recreation has been included in the list of mandatory program and service, specifically programs and services to maintain any facilities, trails or other amenities that support public access and recreational activities in conservation areas and that can be provided without direct support or supervision of staff employed by the CA or by another person or body.

CAs will still have the ability to deliver non-mandatory programs and services (e.g. private land stewardship) to respond to local priorities either under agreement with municipalities who are willing to pay for that program or service, or if they are able to secure other funding (e.g. provincial grants or self generated revenue).

The development and implementation of a watershed-based resource management strategy and implementation of the provincial stream and groundwater monitoring programs were maintained as mandatory programs and services.

Timelines were provided for deliverables required under the mandatory programs and services regulation of December 31, 2024 to provide certainty for CAs.

Municipal Agreements and Transition Period

  • some submissions expressed concern related to the proposed transition timing of January 1, 2023, noting it may be challenging to establish all the necessary agreements with participating municipalities by that time for non-mandatory programs and services
  • there was support from some stakeholders to enable the Minister to grant extensions of time for CAs to enter into agreements with their participating municipalities for the municipal levy to fund non-mandatory programs and services
  • there was desire for certainty and consistency on how CAs will determine CA led non-mandatory programs and services

Response:

Ontario is committed to ensuring that CAs are focused on their core mandate of helping protection people and property from the risk of natural hazards, the conservation and management of CA-owned lands and their roles in drinking water source protection. These regulations implement the changes made to the Conservation Authorities Act initiated in 2019. In response to feedback, the transition to this new funding framework is to be completed by January 1, 2024, which will both meet the objective of ensuring municipalities have more say over the CA programs and services they pay for and provide CAs and municipalities appropriate time to complete the necessary deliverables and agreements as part of the transition. As well, the regulation has retained the ability for the CA to be granted an extension of time beyond the transition date under certain circumstances was maintained.

Some changes were made to the requirements related to completion of the inventory of programs and services by the CAs. These were completed in response to comments related to the role of municipalities in the preparation of the inventory and the information they have on costing to support decision-making for non-mandatory programs and services. The regulation now requires that a CA must circulate the inventory to all participating municipalities in the CA’s area of jurisdiction, and if the CA considers it advisable, to any other municipality with which the CA has entered into, or intends to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) or other agreement. The CA must take municipal comments into consideration as the inventory is updated during consultations with municipalities throughout the transition period. The CA would need to a maintain a record of the municipalities that the inventory was circulated to and the associated date. Additionally, the regulation requires CAs to provide costing information for all programs and services in the inventory (e.g. total annual cost estimates based on the last five years or for a shorter duration if the program or service has been provided for less than five years).

Community Advisory Boards

  • some submissions recommended that the purpose of community advisory boards be clarified, that their implementation not be required until following the transition period, and that their funding be mandatory or covered under the administrative levy with the municipalities
  • some stakeholders expressed support for the proposal to defer certain details for community advisory boards to terms of references to be developed by each conservation authorities
  • other comments were concerned that the proposed boards would be duplicative of boards that have already been established by many CAs, and would increased cost. They recommended that this requirement be removed
  • comments from Indigenous communities and organizations included recommendations for Indigenous membership on community advisory boards and requested mention of traditional ecological knowledge consideration requirements within management plans for conservation authority lands

Response:

The ministry did not proceed with the regulation that would have required CAs to establish a community advisory board as many CAs across Ontario already have a diverse range of advisory boards and CAs can continue to include additional members, including from Indigenous communities, where there is interest. Further, where there is not an existing advisory board, CAs will continue to have the ability to establish one where they consider it appropriate and useful.

Rules of Conduct in Conservation Areas

  • Some submissions recommended more coordination between CAs, police, and the Ministry of the Attorney General on long-term enforcement issues and that a full review and update of the regulation governing rules of conduct in conservation areas be completed.

Response:

Maintained approach to consolidate and maintain requirements from the individual section 29 “Conservation Area” regulations governing the rules of conduct on CA lands into one regulation for consistency. The regulation reflects the rules of conduct that have been in effect in conservation areas to date on CA-owned land to protect against property damage, for public safety, to protect the resources on the land and public investment.

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Original proposal

ERO number
019-2986
Notice type
Regulation
Act
Conservation Authorities Act, R.S.O. 1990
Posted by
Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
Proposal posted

Comment period

May 13, 2021 - June 27, 2021 (45 days)

Proposal details

On December 8, 2020, Bill 229, the Protect, Support and Recover from COVID-19 Act (Budget Measures), 2020, which made changes to the Conservation Authorities Act and the Planning Act, received Royal Assent.

These changes will improve the governance, oversight and accountability of conservation authorities, while respecting taxpayer dollars by giving municipalities more say over the conservation authority programs and services they pay for.

The Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) is now proposing to move forward with our first of two phases of regulatory amendments to implement the legislative changes previously made to the Conservation Authorities Act and those recently made through the Protect, Support and Recover from COVID-19 Act (Budget Measures), 2020.

The regulations the government proposes to introduce as part of the first phase would set out the following:

  • Mandatory programs and services that conservation authorities would be required to provide, including core watershed-based resource management strategies.
  • A requirement for agreements between conservation authorities and their participating municipalities for the use of municipal levies to fund non-mandatory programs and services an authority determines are advisable in its jurisdiction.
    • The proposed regulation may set out a specific time in which the agreements must be reviewed and to determine whether or not the agreements will be renewed.
  • Details of the transition plan conservation authorities must prepare, including an inventory of the authority’s programs and services, the consultation process with participating municipalities on the inventory, and steps taken to enter into these agreement(s) with participating municipalities for the use of municipal levies for non-mandatory programs and services the authority determines are advisable in its jurisdiction.
  • The consolidation of each of the current individual conservation authority ‘Conservation Areas’ regulations made under Section 29 of the Conservation Authorities Act into one Minister’s regulation. This would set out, for example, prohibited activities and activities requiring permits on conservation authority owned lands.
  • Requirements for each conservation authority to establish a community advisory board to include members of the public, and providing that conservation authority by-laws may govern the operation of these and other advisory boards that may be established by the authority.

Greater detail on these proposed regulations can be found in a Consultation Guide.

In the coming months, the MECP will be consulting on the second phase of proposed regulations under the Conservation Authorities Act, including:

  • Municipal levies governing the apportionment of conservation authority capital and operating expenses for mandatory programs and services and for non-mandatory programs and services under municipal agreement. This would also set out provisions pertaining to municipal appeals of conservation authority municipal levy apportionments, including who would hear those appeals.
  • Standards and requirements for the delivery of non-mandatory programs and services.

Supporting materials

Comment

Commenting is now closed.

This consultation was open from May 13, 2021
to June 27, 2021

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Contact

Liz Mikel

Phone number
Email address
Office
Conservation and Source Protection Branch
Address

40 St Clair Ave W
14th Flr
Toronto, ON
M4V 1M2
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