Opinion: How conservation authorities help create the perfect home
By NVCA Planning Staff
There is nothing more idyllic than building a subdivision right beside a river. The perfect family home backing onto the river banks, marketing materials illustrating a young laughing family playing alongside the water, grandparents strolling along a riverside trail.
Enter the storm.
Picture if you will, a storm event that has knocked out power; rains are driving sideways and that river in your backyard has now swelled beyond its banks. The rains continue and the water starts to pick up speed – raging through the subdivision, washing away back yard swing sets, decks, homes and roads. Leaving in its wake a path of destruction of epic proportions. Financial losses, personal trauma and damaged infrastructure.
Not the stuff that fairy tales are made of. Want examples? Google the Calgary Flood of 2013. Check out the images available online. The Province of Alberta does not have conservation authorities – conservation authorities are only in Ontario.
What do Conservation Authorities do?
One of the things that we do is participate in the land use planning process in the province. We provide comments on development applications and help to ensure that a development is designed in a responsible manner – outside of the natural hazards like flood and erosion hazards and their buffers.
Did you know that Schedule 6 in Bill 229 seeks to change the Conservation Authorities Act? Changes that could sideline conservation authority staff from the land use Planning process?
Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority (NVCA) staff recently worked with a developer on a subdivision in the Township of Springwater along the Wye River. The landowner and their consulting team worked with our staff to stake the top of bank of the river, complete an erosion hazard and flood hazard study and apply the appropriate buffers to these hazards.
They completed a constraints mapping exercise which took the information from all of the technical studies and turned that information into lines on a map. This allowed NVCA staff to ensure that the limits to the development were outside of the natural hazards and their appropriate buffers.
What does this mean to a future homeowner in this subdivision?
They can rest assured that using the best available science, conservation authority staff have helped to ensure that their home and property will be safe from any future hazard associated with a storm event; now that is idyllic.
The next time you hear a story about flooding in an area with no conservation authority, think about what it would mean to you and your loved ones if you lost your home, or worse, lost the life of a family member. We may not wear a mask and a cape, but when it comes to responsible development, the plan review staff at your local conservation authority are the true heroes in this story. Silencing our voice in the plan review process may very well allow for a more tragic ending to future stories.
Contact your local MPP and tell them to remove Schedule 6 (Changes to the Conservation Authorities Act) from Bill 229. Keep the voice of our conservation authorities strong in the land use planning process.
The NVCA Planning Team is comprised of Registered Professional Planners and an Ecological Planner.