Conservation Authorities Act Updates

In June 2019, the Government of Ontario introduced changes to the Conservation Authorities Act through the More Homes, More Choice Act, 2019 (Bill 108).  On December 8, 2020, Bill 229 Protect, Support and Recover from COVID-19 Act received Royal Assent and included further legislative changes to the Conservation Authorities Act.

In June 2019, the Government of Ontario introduced changes to the Conservation Authorities Act through the More Homes, More Choice Act, 2019 (Bill 108). On December 8, 2020, Bill 229 Protect, Support and Recover from COVID-19 Act received Royal Assent and included further legislative changes to the Conservation Authorities Act.

These changes define the mandatory programs and services that the province requires Conservation Authorities to deliver. The Act also allows for Conservation Authorities to deliver other programs and services to meet local watershed needs either by way of an agreement with Municipalities or at the CA Board Members’ discretion.

To implement the province’s proposed legislative changes, the province is planning a series of regulations, delivered in 3 phases.

Phase 1

Released by the Ontario government in October 2021 and includes the following three regulations:

This regulation prescribes the mandatory programs and services CAs would be required to provide, including core watershed-based resource management strategies.  CAs were required to prepare an Inventory of Programs and Services identifying:

  • Category 1: Mandatory Programs and Services
  • Category 2: Non-Mandatory Programs at the request of a Municipality
  • Category 3: Non-Mandatory Programs

LRCA Inventory of Programs and Services 

This regulation requires each CA to have a ‘Transition Plan’ that would outline the steps to be taken to develop an inventory of programs and services and to enter into agreements with participating municipalities to fund Category 2 and 3 programs and services through a municipal levy. The Transition Plan, completed in November 2021, was provided to all LRCA Member Municipalities. and posted below.  

LRCA Transition Plan

This regulation consolidates the current individual CA ‘Conservation Area’ regulations made under Section 29 of the Conservation Authorities Act into one Minister’s regulation that regulates the public use of CA owned land. This regulation will come into effect when the unproclaimed provisions of Part VI and VII of the Conservation Authorities Act that deal with development permissions come into effect.

Phase 2

Released in April 2022 and includes the following four regulations and Policy document related to the charging of fees:

The regulation amends the previously approved regulation (O. Reg. 687/22) further defining that Conservation Authorities that enact Cost Apportioning Agreements (Category 3 programs) may establish fees for the program or service provided the agreements permit the Authority to do so.  Also revokes requirement to publish cost apportioning agreements on Conservation Authority websites, which is now captured in O. Reg. 400/22.

This regulation puts into law what each Authority must have on each of their websites, including requirements to advise the Minister when changes are made.

The regulation applies to Conservation Authorities with both participating and specified municipalities for the purposes of apportioning Clean Water Act and Lake Simcoe Protection Act operating expenses and capital costs.  Details the methods available to Conservation Authorities to determine amounts owing by their specified municipalities for Conservation Authority programs and services provided in respect to the Acts.

This regulation specifies that the 2024 budget and all subsequent budgets must adhere to this regulation.  It provides details on the budget process and municipal apportionment methods for levying participating municipalities and includes revocation of the current regulations that govern municipal levies.  

Consolidates the two existing Lieutenant Governor in Council (LGIC) regulations, which are now revoked and replaced (O. Reg. 670/00 and O. Reg. 139/96).

The MECP published a Minister’s list of the classes of programs and services for which a Conservation Authority may charge a fee.  Conservation Authorities are only permitted to charge a fee for a program or service only if the program or service is included in the Minister’s list of classes of programs and services.

Phase 3

Focuses on development permits and how CAs regulate development and other activities,  LRCA administers Ontario Regulation 180/06 - Development, Interference with Wetlands and Alterations to Shorelines and Watercourses - pursuant to Section 28 of the Conservation Authorities Act.   Phase 3 has not yet been released by the province.