• Protecting Water and Farmland in Simcoe County

NVCA improves customer service during COVID-19 pandemic

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In Agencies
Feb 26th, 2021
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News release from the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority

Today, the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority (NVCA) released its 2020 annual report, which highlights the efforts to serve watershed residents quicker and more efficiently, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am very proud of the accomplishments that our team and board of directors achieved last year,” commented Doug Hevenor, CAO of NVCA. “None of which would have been possible without the dedication of our passionate and knowledgeable staff.”
In 2020, NVCA’s conservation areas saw a 60% increase in visitors compared to 2019. This led to an increase in revenue from parking fees, which went directly into maintaining trails, improving amenities, enhancing signage and many other projects to give visitors an enjoyable experience.

Several years ago, NVCA implemented online mapping and a property inquiry request form for property owners in the watershed. These tools, along with phone calls, emails and virtual meetings proved to be vital in the COVID-19 pandemic, as regulations staff were not able to meet face-to-face with permit applicants. As a result, NVCA met the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry’s customer service timelines by 98.7% and Conservation Ontario customer service timelines by 95.2%.
Last summer, NVCA’s education team developed a video series for families to learn about nature near their homes. Lessons include Backyard Exploration, Pond Dipping and Citizen Science. The outdoor educators also delivered live and pre-recorded virtual content to Grade 4 students from the Simcoe County District School Board.

NVCA’s forestry department planted over 100,000 trees, while in stewardship, staff and volunteers were masked up, sterilized, armed with hand sanitizer and physical distanced while completing 29 environmental restoration projects. These include removing the Petun Dam, restoring 65.4 hectares of grasslands, restoring and rehabilitating 31 km of stream banks and shoreline.

Although most watershed monitoring work stopped due to the pandemic, NVCA partnered with the Georgian College Big Data Analytics post-graduate program to develop a database that will house and analyze 25 years of benthic macroinvertebrate (water bugs) data. The new tool will be used to help other program areas determine the impact of their projects.

Promoting that our watershed residents are safe from flooding and erosion hazards remain a top priority for NVCA in 2020. While working from home, NVCA’s planners continued work with developers and municipalities, including reviewing natural hazard studies, environmental impact studies.

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