We are delivering on our Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan commitment to protect and preserve Ontario’s natural places.

Conservation authorities play an important role in natural hazard management, protecting residents and property from the impacts of flooding and other natural hazards.

In 2019-2020, we consulted on the core role of conservation authorities in:

  • preparing and protecting against the impacts of natural hazards
  • maintaining and managing conservation lands
  • protecting sources of drinking water

About the consultation

We heard ideas and feedback from:

  • conservation authorities (members, staff)
  • municipalities (municipal elected officials, employees)
  • Indigenous communities and organizations
  • landowner associations
  • development stakeholders (property developers, associations representing developers)
  • agriculture stakeholders (farmers, agriculture associations)
  • environmental or conservation organizations or associations (board members, staff)
  • the general public

The information that we gathered helped us in our review of relevant legislation and regulations that govern conservation authorities.

What we heard

As part of the government’s review of conservation authorities, we held various pre-consultations and engagement sessions in 2019 and 2020, as well as an on-line survey, to discuss the programs and services they deliver.

Feedback was received by representatives from across Ontario that had expressed interest in legislative and regulatory changes related to conservation authorities, including:

  • municipalities
  • conservation authorities
  • development, agricultural, landowner, environmental and conservation organizations
  • Indigenous communities
  • the general public

The input received reflected a range of ideas and perspectives. One-third of the comments came from southwestern Ontario, one-third from central Ontario, and the remainder from the rest of the province.

At each stage of our consultations we asked participants to tell us what is working well and what could be improved. 

The survey and in-person consultation sessions asked for feedback specifically on:

  • mandatory and non-mandatory programs and services
  • the existing conservation authority model
  • permitting roles and responsibilities
  • oversight of conservation authorities
  • authority member board composition
  • partnerships and collaborations

The extensive feedback we received in each of these areas was used to inform the changes we made to the Conservation Authorities Act as well as regulations to implement the changes.

Consultation on the first phase regulatory proposals took place from May 31 to June 27, 2021.

The first phase of regulations further define the core mandate of conservation authorities and the programs and services they provide and improve the governance, oversight and accountability of conservation authorities while respecting taxpayer dollars. In total, 444 comments were received. The ministry also held a range of information and engagement sessions. We received feedback. from the public, Indigenous communities and organizations, CAs, municipalities, environmental non-government organizations, community groups, industry and the agriculture sector.

We thank everyone that took the time to submit their thoughts and ideas.

Learn more about the Conservation Authorities Act and recent changes.

Next steps

We are now consulting on a second phase of proposals under the Conservation Authorities Act to implement changes to conservation authority operations, affecting both conservation authorities and municipalities, including:

  • details on municipal levy provisions related to mandatory and non-mandatory programs and services
  • details on the proposed budget process
  • classes of programs and services that the Minister would approve for the charging of user fees by conservation authorities
  • Requirements to increase transparency of conservation authority operations