• Protecting Water and Farmland in Simcoe County

Ramara missing out on key conservation work, authority says

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In Agencies
Jan 5th, 2020
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Lake Simcoe – LSRCA photo

Township says it doesn’t need conservation authority; ‘Ramara definitely did benefit and would continue to benefit,’ CAO says

By: Nathan Taylor Orillia Matters December 19 2019

The Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority is “disappointed” at the comments made by Ramara’s mayor at a county council meeting earlier this month.

Basil Clarke told council his township doesn’t “need (the conservation authority) to protect Lake Simcoe and to protect the watershed” in Ramara, saying there is enough in-house expertise.

“They have a lot of great expertise and we want to work with the municipality,” said Mike Walters, the conservation authority’s CAO.

However, the authority has a different kind of expertise, especially when it comes to floodplain management, he added.

“We’re specialized to do it and we can do it cheaply compared to municipalities (doing it on their own),” Walters said.

In 2017, Ramara decided to “discontinue some services” with the conservation authority, Walters explained. As a result, the township has missed out on restoration projects.

Between 2010 and 2016, the conservation authority completed 148 restoration projects in Ramara. The cost to the township over those years was $105,000, but the value of the work was $2.4 million, Walters said. This year, it undertook 123 projects across the watershed.

“Unfortunately, there’s none in the Township of Ramara,” he said.

In October, Ramara council passed a resolution that included a request that an exit clause be added to any new Conservation Authorities Act for any municipality able to prove it can provide the same services at the municipal level. That resolution was sent to Jeff Yurek, minister of the environment, conservation and parks.

In the meantime, the conservation authority is mandated by legislation to provide certain services, including flood hazard planning.

“We’re not being paid (by Ramara) for that service. They’re complaining, but they’re getting the service,” Walters said.

Even if there wasn’t a conservation authority doing that work, the municipality would still be required to, and “I doubt they’d be able to do it for $40,000,” Walters said, referring to the amount Ramara paid to the conservation authority in 2018.

“Ramara definitely did benefit and would continue to benefit,” he said. “It’s unfortunate.”

There are nine paying municipalities, he said, who are “very supportive” of the authority’s work.

“The key thing is we do a lot more than floodplain management, and we do respect the taxpayer,” he said. “I’m confident that we’re not going to see other municipalities opting out, should that option be provided.”

4 Responses to “Ramara missing out on key conservation work, authority says”

  1. Mike Douglas says:

    The following is just one example of why Ramara Township has proven to be incapable and can’t be trusted to properly fulfill the mandate of the Lake Simcoe Regional Conservation Authority.

    In the weeks leading up to the municipal election in the fall of 2018 Ramara Township used tax payer money to hire a consultant to update the Ramara Township Fill bylaw. Ramara Township also used the same consultant to answer a letter that had been delivered to each of the Ramara Township councillors in April, 2018. The letter contained questions related to the extensive practise of large-scale soil dumping in Ramara Township.

    Will Ramara Township insist on taking their own audit test samples and recoup the test sampling costs based on a charge for each truck load of fill?

    The Township is expected to retain a Qualified Person, at the applicant’s expense, who will be responsible for certifying the quality of imported fill to provincial standards. (Mr. Dorfman)

    · Will Ramara Township place a standard on the fill quality and remove the Fill Permit for failed test analysis?

    In this case, a Site Alteration Permit should not be issued. Unauthorized fill should be ordered by the municipality to be removed. (Mr. Dorfman)

    · Will Ramara Township require soil be removed for a failed test analysis and designate the volume to be removed in advance of entering into a Site Plan Agreement?

    In this case, a Site Alteration Permit should not be issued. Unauthorized fill should be ordered by the municipality to be removed. (Mr. Dorfman)

    Six months after the delivery of the letter these were the responses provided by the consultant hired by Ramara Township to update the Ramara Township Fill bylaw that didn’t need the safety measures it contained updated, but just needed the safety measures applied and enforced.

    When will Ramara Township be adhering to the current Ramara Township Fill bylaw and following the advice of the professional consultant they decided to hire? “Unauthorized fill should be ordered by the municipality to be removed.” When will Ramara Township be issuing these orders to have the soil removed that has been dumped at the six known large-scale soil dumping sites in Ramara Township?

  2. Mike Douglas says:

    Thanks to the efforts of SOS Beaverton we are very happy to hear about the recent progress with the Lake Simcoe Regional Conservation Authority and Good Year Farms finally agreeing on the necessary and overdue corrective measures to deal with the sediment runoff destruction into Lake Simcoe that is taking place in Brock Township. The Good Year Farms operations in Ramara Township also need to be similarly addressed, however with Ramara Township’s refusal to pay their annual levy and cooperate with the Lake Simcoe Regional Conservation Authority it isn’t surprising that Ramara Township would be left out again.

  3. Mike Douglas says:

    At the July 8th, 2019 Ramara Township council meeting the existence of another large-scale soil dump in Ramara Township was discussed by council members. A Freedom of Information (FOI) request was eventually submitted to Ramara Township to determine if Ramara Township was finally applying and enforcing the Ramara Township Fill bylaw. The response dated October 3rd, 2019 contained the following response, “The Chief Building Official has confirmed that there is no permit issued for this property. The Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority (LSRCA) has issued violation notices to the owner and made the township aware of the issue.” Ramara Township once again avoided any involvement in controlling or monitoring large scale soil dumping in Ramara Township. This time the responsibility was offloaded onto the Lake Simcoe Regional Conservation Authority. The irony of this can be seen in the rollback of funding that the current provincial government has imposed on the conservation authorities, as well as the Ramara Township Mayor Basil Clarke’s short sighted and illogical plans to have Ramara Township opt out of the Lake Simcoe Regional Conservation Authority. Ramara Township is demonstrating that they are incapable of applying and enforcing their own fill bylaw and are reliant on the (LSRCA) to fulfill their municipal responsibilities. There are now six known uncontrolled large-scale soil dumping sites in Ramara Township.

  4. Mike Douglas says:

    A July 14, 2017 article by Brad Pritchard in the Alliston Harold mentioned that Ramara Township hadn’t paid its levy for 2017, about $42,000, even though it continued to receive services from the authority. More recently the issue of the Lake Simcoe Regional Conservation Authority annual levy was included in a Ramara Township council agenda. The 2018 levy was in arrears and the 2019 levy was due. Could the real reason possibly be that Ramara Township wants to avoid paying what is owed to the Lake Simcoe Regional Conservation Authority?

    The Ramara Township Mayor will no doubt be asserting during the next municipal election campaign that he has again improved Ramara Township’s fiscal outlook. Rolling back viable programs like supporting Physician Recruitment & Retention and the Lake Simcoe Regional Conservation Authority is neither socially, economically or environmentally sensible for Ramara Township and its residents. The short-term fiscal gains will have serious long-term consequences and undermine Ramara Township as a desirable place to live.

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