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Local conservation authority has concerns over Built Faster Act

November 17, 2022   ·   0 Comments

By Brian Lockhart

While the Nottawasaga Conservation Authority agrees there is a need for more affordable homes across the province, it is concerned about the protection of wetlands.

Bill 23, the More homes Built Faster Act, proposes the development of 1.5 million more homes in Ontario.

“The NVCA Board of Directors agree that there is a housing and affordability issue in the Nottawasaga Watershed and across the province and we’re fully supportive of the Province to build 1.5 million homes,” said Mariane McLeod, Chair of the NVCA Board of Directors. “In building these homes, we continue to look towards our local conservation authority to keep our residents’ lives and properties protected from natural hazards such as flooding and erosion. One way to do that is to allow wetlands to do their job – flood control, water filtering, groundwater recharge and discharge and provide wildlife habitat.”

Wetlands are natural areas that absorb and slow floodwaters when there is a lot of rain or snowmelt, which helps to alleviate property damage and can even save lives.

Under the current wetland evaluation system, the Nottawasaga Watershed is home to the internationally significant Minesing Wetlands, 33 provincially significant wetlands, and 34 important, but not-provincially significant wetlands that would likely become provincially significant if they were evaluated.

If the new legislation is passed, the evaluation score of the Minesing Wetlands will be greatly diminished.

“The proposed changes are signalling that municipalities will be responsible for protecting people and property from natural hazards and the evaluation of wetlands,” said Ms. McLeod. “Conservation Authorities work on a watershed basis. If municipalities are directed to take on this task, we would need to consider how development in one municipality impacts the ones adjacent or downstream of them. We just don’t have the staff or expertise in water resources engineering, environmental planning and regulatory compliance for the Conservation Authorities Act to do that. We need to keep all hazard-related responsibilities with NVCA.”

Other concerns include proposed changes that include freezing or eliminating use-pay fees for developers and looking at conservation authority lands as potential areas for housing development.


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