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Frequently Asked Questions


What is Conservation Ontario?

Conservation Ontario is a non-governmental organization that represents the 36 Conservation Authorities within Ontario.

What is a Conservation Authority?

Conservation Authorities are local, community-based public sector organizations. They represent a grouping of municipalities on a watershed basis and work in partnership with others to manage their respective watersheds. They are legislated by the Conservation Authorities Act which was originally passed in 1946 in response to extensive flooding, erosion, deforestation and soil loss resulting from poor land, water and forestry management practices in earlier years. Conservation Authorities could only be formed if it was initiated and supported by municipalities within a common watershed. Today, Conservation Authorities operate in watersheds in which 90 per cent of the provincial population reside.

Key areas of Conservation Authority activity include:

Environmental Protection - The Conservation Authorities of Ontario protect local ecosystems and contribute to the quality of life in communities throughout the province.

Water Resource Managers - The Conservation Authorities are Ontario's community-based environmental experts who use integrated, ecologically sound environmental practices to manage Ontario's water resources on a watershed basis, maintain secure supplies of clean water, protect communities from flooding and contribute to municipal planning processes (that protect water).

Lifelong Learning - The Conservation Authorities of Ontario create educational experiences in a natural environment that enrich the lives of peoples of all ages, by instilling an appreciation and enjoyment of our diverse natural heritage.

What is a watershed?

A watershed is an area of land that catches rain and snow which then drains or seeps into a marsh, stream, river, lake or groundwater. Some cross municipal, provincial and even international borders. They come in all shapes and sizes and can vary from millions of acres, like the land that drains into the Great Lakes, to a few acres that drain into a pond.

What is Watershed Management?

Watershed management means managing wisely upstream so that downstream remains natural and healthy. The Conservation Ontario model has received worldwide recognition over its 50+ year history and the watershed is now recognized as one of the premier natural ecosystem units on which to manage resources.

What is Conservation Ontario's mission

The mission of Conservation Ontario is to promote and continually strengthen a watershed-based coalition in Ontario.

What does Conservation Ontario do?

On behalf of the members, Conservation Ontario builds strategic partnerships, assists in the development and improvement of Conservation Authority programs and policies, and champions collective issues and priorities. Conservation Ontario's business functions include: collective corporate services, government relations, business and partnership development, corporate communications, policy and program development, research and information, evaluation and reporting, and training.

Who are your members?

The members of Conservation Ontario include Ontario's 36 Conservation Authorities.

What is your governance structure?

Conservation Ontario is governed by a six member Board of Directors and directed by a Council comprised of appointed and elected municipal officials from Conservation Authority Boards of Directors and CA staff. The Council of Conservation Ontario is composed of over 70 delegates. From the membership a Chair and 2 Vice-Chairs are elected to the Board of Directors. Three additional directors are also elected from the membership. The Council may appoint ad-hoc committees and appoint members to external committees as required. The Chair of Conservation Ontario is Dick Hibma (Grey Sauble Conservation Authority). The Vice-Chairs are Mark Burnham (Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority) and Lin Gibson (Chairperson of Conservation Sudbury). The Council meets 4 times annually.

How are you funded?

Conservation Ontario is funded through levies provided by the Conservation Authorities, supplemented by project funding and contract work.

Where are you located?

Mailing Address:
Conservation Ontario
120 Bayview Parkway
Newmarket, Ontario L3Y 4W3
Tel: 905-895-0716
Fax: 905-895-0751
Email: info@conservationontario.ca