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Collingwood council asked to throw support behind NVCA work

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In Agencies
Nov 23rd, 2019
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Mariane McLeod

‘There’s some wording confusion that’s taking place between the province and municipalities,’ councillor says

By: Jessica Owen Collingwood Today

For Coun. Mariane McLeod’s first motion before council since being sworn in, she has decided to make an environmental impact.

First read during last week’s development and operations standing committee meeting, McLeod’s motion outlines council’s intention to fully support the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority’s work as providing inclusive outdoor education and recreation, water quality monitoring, preservation of species at risk as well as protecting life and property and acting as a source of expert advice on the environmental impact of land-use planning proposals.

“It was the first time I ever wrote a motion, so I wanted to make sure it passes,” said McLeod, with a laugh, in an interview with CollingwoodToday. “There is a lot going on regarding the provincial government and conservation authorities. I would like our council to do what councils in other jurisdictions have done, which is to make sure the provincial government knows that these municipalities believe in the work that conservation authorities do.”

Grey Highlands and Halton Region are two other municipalities who have put out similar motions to the province since the passing of Bill 108 (the More Homes, More Choice Act) this past summer.

The act makes significant changes to the planning appeals process and to development charges.

The bill also makes changes to core mandates for conservation authorities: hazard work for flooding, conservation land management, source water protection work and other outlined responsibilities, for example, the Lake Simcoe Act. Conservation authorities must also now enter into agreements with individual municipal governments on service delivery.

Regulations have not yet been written for the four core work areas.

“The regulations that will now govern the work that conservation authorities do haven’t yet been written,” said McLeod. “They may not be written until March or April of next year.”

While the Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks Jeff Yurek sent out a memo to municipalities back in August suggesting conservation authorities wind down their non-mandatory programs, McLeod sees a problem with that request.

“We don’t know what programs are mandatory yet because they haven’t given us the regulations,” she said. “This is another way of communicating to the province that we support the work that is currently being done. There’s some wording confusion that’s taking place between the province and municipalities.”

McLeod says the conservation authorities are the first line of defence when it comes to climate change, and with council recently voting to declare a climate crisis, public acknowledgement of the importance of these organizations is paramount.

“This is just affirming that we are in support of the work that conservation authorities do,” she said. “These scientists are the ones who are collecting the data that is going to help us as we combat climate change, so let’s support them. This is the next step in that conversation.”

The motion will come before council on Nov. 25.

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