The Ontario government is looking for feedback about its upcoming review of the Conservation Authorities Act.
The review states it wants to “address the roles, responsibilities and governance of conservation authorities in resource management and environmental protection.”
As a first step, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has developed a discussion paper and posted it on the provincial government's Environmental Bill of Rights Registry for a 90 day period. The last day to submit is Oct. 19.
The North Bay Mattawa Conservation Authority says it will be inputting its two cents through Conservation Ontario, which represents Ontario's 36 authorities. Conservation Authorities are mandated to manage and protect water and other natural resources. In particular, they work to protect citizen from flooding or drought.
“We will be there with the collective through dialogues and regional meetings,” said Brian Tayler, manager of the NBMCA. “We already have a great water management system but it has evolved over the last 20, 30, even 50 years – it is just timely to talk about being more efficient.”
The Conservation Authorities Act was created in 1945 in response to flooding, erosion, deforestation and soil-loss results from poor management of the resources. Over the years it has been changed slightly, but the province says a more through review is required.
Funding for the NBMCA comes mainly from three sources: self-generated funds, city tax levies from the municipalities the NBMCA operates in, and the Ontario government.
“The province funds the smaller portion of the three sources, and we would like to have a conversation about that,” said Tayler. “We want to take the approach of talking about watershed management in Ontario and what it means on behalf of the citizens and Ontario – we would talk about what we do and then see where that takes us.”
Tayler says that over the years climate change has affected conservation authorities across Ontario, including in the North Bay Mattawa region. Population growth is something that has affected Southern Ontario, Northern Ontario not so much.
“We have seen a lot of changes in land use over the years, and we've been responsive to that,” Tayler said. “Climate change is affected not only resources but even municipal infrastructure right across Ontario, and we need to be on top of that and have measures in place to allow us to adapt to that.”
“As a conservation authority we are not bad off, but we could always be better, and that is what I meant by evolving... managing natural resources in a sustainable way for both society and the economy is really important.”
Written comments to the review can be submitted by responding to the Environmental Bill of Rights Registry posting by searching the EBR registry number 0124509 on www.ontario.ca/EBR. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or submit answers to the questions outlined in the discussion paper (http://apps.mnr.gov.on.ca/public/files/er/discussion_paper_2015/pdf) through: www.surveymonkey.com/s/caactdiscussionpaper. The deadline to submit feedback of Oct. 19.