On November 5, 2020, the Ontario government tabled omnibus budget measures Bill 229 in the Ontario Legislature, Schedule 6 of which proposes fundamental changes to the Conservation Authorities Act and to the conservation authorities’ role in land use planning.
Bill 229 is the most recent in a disturbing trend of using omnibus budget measures bills to make substantial changes to environmental laws, thereby sidestepping the public’s right to comment under the Environmental Bill of Rights.
In CELA’s view, the proposed changes to conservation authorities in Bill 229 will not achieve the crucially important goal of building climate resilience for Ontario. To the contrary, the package of amendments as proposed are likely to set back watershed planning and implementation of an ecosystem based approach by decades.
CELA recommends that Schedule 6 not be enacted in its present form and instead be withdrawn in its entirety from Bill 229.
Further, CELA recommends that the Ontario government immediately seek to ensure that the current mandate of the province’s 36 conservation authorities is maintained and enhanced, in order to effectively protect, restore and manage the watersheds where 95 percent of the people of Ontario reside.