The Mississauga Residents’ Association Network (MIRANET) is concerned that as our planet is teetering on the edge of an irreversible environmental crisis, political actions are putting roadblocks in the way of long-established initiatives to protect watersheds and environmentally sensitive lands. This needs to stop! Schedule 6 has no democratic place in the proposed omnibus Budget Bill 229, tabled by the government of Ontario. The very act of burying it in a 219-page Budget Bill is suspect and appears to obfuscate transparency at a time when all eyes are understandably on Covid-19 remediation. It should be removed to allow for proper consultation with conservation authorities (CAs) and stakeholders.
This blatant appropriation of power does not improve upon the existing Act and will not achieve its stated goal of “amending the Conservation Authorities Act to improve transparency and consistency in conservation authority operations, strengthen municipal and provincial oversight and streamline conservation authority roles in permitting and land use planning.” In fact, the public would be better served by maintaining the status quo.
Ontario’s 36 conservation authorities should not be pulled into political deal making. Since 1992, their legislative power, outlined in the Conservation Authorities Act, transcended municipal and political boundaries to serve and protect critical watersheds and environmentally sensitive lands for the health and benefit of all citizens. 95% of the province’s population lives within these conservation areas. Their mandate needs to be enhanced, not curtailed. Who else will protect our life-sustaining watersheds for future generations? These proposed changes to land-use planning should not become a windfall for developers.
The government is trying to bypass scientists and technical experts for their own short-term political gain. Remove Schedule 6 in its entirety from Bill 229!