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Essa mayor moves to dissolve NVCA

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In Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority
Oct 5th, 2009
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Motion to be tabled Wednesday night as Essa council
BY Matthew Talbot Alliston Herald September 15, 2009
Dissolving a conservation authority Wayne Wilson, chief administrative officer of the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority (NVCA), said two municiipaliities must request the dissolution of a conservation authority before the process can begin. A local board of 26 members oversees the NVCA and makes decisions for its 18 member municipalities. Once the board receives two municipal requests for dissolution, its holds a special meeting. For the dissolution to take effect, two thirds of board members must vote in favour. The closest a conservation authority ever came to dissolution was Kawartha Conservation, but its board rejected the move.
Essa Township is exploring the possibility of dissolving the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority (NVCA) in what could be an unprecedented move in Ontario.
NVCA Chief Administrative Officer Wayne Wilson said there has never been a case of a conservation authority being dissolved in the province.
Sept. 2 Essa council saw a motion tabled, moved by Mayor David Guergis, that called for council to “support the dissolution of the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority and that they re-form into an association to provide advice to councils.”
Wilson said a conservation authority relegated to an association would only act in an advisory capacity, and “wouldn’t be able to act to protect the environment.”
Essa Clerk Mike Galloway said the motion was deferred until Sept. 16.
“This Wednesday, it will be back on the table,” Galloway said. “A number of members of council have questioned the ongoings of the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority.”
The Sept. 2 agenda contained background information that compared the NVCA’s $3.6-million budget and its 34 employees to the Severn Sound Environmental Association, which Essa said has a staff of five and a budget of $268,000.
Severn Sound does not have the legislated power of a conservation authority, however.
During budget deliberations earlier this year, some municipalities including Adjala-Tosorontio were unhappy with the cost of the NVCA.
However, Adjala-Tosorontio Mayor Tom Walsh said his council wouldn’t consider dissolving the conservation authority.
“I had heard some talk,” Walsh said of Essa’s motion. “I don’t see us doing that, because I see a need for [the NVCA].”
“There’s a need for them, but I think we should be working together with them and [Simcoe County] to ensure there isn’t a lot of duplication,” he added.
Wilson said conservation authorities like the NVCA are designated by the province as the lead agency when it comes to flood and hazard protection and are mandated to review any development that could alter a watercourse or cause flooding.
“No other agency is designated that responsibility where there is a conservation authority,” Wilson said. “Good communication ensures duplication will not occur.”
He said the NVCA is aware of local municipal concerns and is working to make its role clearer. It is preparing a document that is being sent to the NVCA board in October called the “NVCA Municipal Streamlining Partnership Agreement for Plan Review and Technical Clearance.” It is a document, Wilson said, that could help avoid duplicated processes.
“I think that will go a long way to alleviating some concerns from some of the municipalities and residents we’ve been hearing,” he said.
The NVCA is currently reviewing proposed development “in every municipality” in its coverage area. Wilson said the NVCA reviews about 50 to 75 proposed projects in Essa per year.
“What we do is significant and an association would do none of it,” he said.

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