In response to our letter sent to MPP Hogarth in regards to our concerns over Bill 229, Schedule 6, sent January 5th, MPP Hogarth replied on January 12 with the following response.
Dear Members of the Mimico Residents Association,
I would like to thank the Association for this email. We’ve heard through numerous discussions with municipalities, developers and citizens, that conservation authorities need now more than ever to be focused on their core mandate – protecting people and property from natural hazards, the conservation and management of lands and drinking water source protection. This we can all agree on.
Improving the governance of conservation authorities and ensuring they are focused on their core mandate is also in line with Protecting People and Property: Ontario’s Flooding Strategy, Ontario’s first comprehensive plan to strengthening flood preparedness, response and recovery.
Every Ministerial Zoning Order (MZO) made by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing on non-provincially owned land, has the support of the local municipality. MZOs are a tool our government uses to accelerate the development of critical projects Ontarians rely on, located outside of the Greenbelt – such as thousands of new long-term care beds, hundreds of affordable and supportive housing units, and a Made-in-Ontario PPE facility. MZOs are helping to give Ontario an economic boost on our road to recovery. Our MZOs have already created 26,000 jobs across Ontario.
The Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing has been clear that we will protect the Greenbelt for future generations, and will not consider any proposals to develop on the Greenbelt.
Conservation authorities will continue to be able to bring forward appeals for applications under the Planning Act. Further, their ability to provide advice and support to municipalities and the Province in appeals would continue and not be affected.
The Conservation Authorities Act will further define the core mandate and improve the governance, oversight and accountability of conservation authorities, while respecting taxpayer dollars by giving municipalities more say over the conservation authority services they pay for.
This is about staying focused on helping protect people and property from natural hazards, the conservation and management of conservation authority-owned lands, and their roles in drinking water source protection, while increasing accountability, consistency and transparency.
We have heard concerns that not all conservation authorities are publishing key reports and information for the broader public, which does not support the principle of transparency.
Conservation authorities need to be held accountable for the public dollars they spend, which is why Ontario requires conservation authorities to make certain documents public – documents like audited financial statements, meeting agenda packages and minutes, municipal member agreements, as well as municipal agreements on funding for non-mandatory programs and services.
To be clear, conservation authorities would continue to conserve and manage their own lands, which includes natural heritage features and provincially significant conservation lands — provincially significant wetlands, areas of scientific and natural interest, Niagara Escarpment lands, habitat of endangered species, and more.
A conservation authority would also be able to provide non-mandatory programs and services, including for purposes of environmental protection and rehabilitation such as private land stewardship programs remediating erosion of stream banks, water quality improvements, etc.
I appreciate you sharing your concerns.
Christine Hogarth, MPP