Ontario’s government proposed changes to four key provincial plans
In their response to the recent review of four key provincial plans shaping land use in the Greater Golden Horseshoe region, the province has done a good job recognizing the importance of integrating growth with considerations to the environment. Focusing growth, expanding the greenbelt, protecting prime agricultural lands, and developing transit infrastructure will go a long way to manage the impacts of our future growth in the Greater Golden Horseshoe region.
Requiring watershed planning across the Greater Golden Horseshoe will also help to manage growing urban impacts and enable municipal and the provincial decision-makers to address multiple priorities together, including protection and restoration of water and natural heritage, climate change and building community resiliency.
The role of Ontario's Conservation Authorities and the contributions they can make as implementing partners is not as explicit in the government's recent response as it was in the December 2015 Advisory Panel Report. This is disappointing. Nevertheless, Conservation Authorities have an important role in influencing what happens on the ground.
Conservation Authorities have a long and rich history in local watershed management in this province. Through their programs and multi-stakeholder partnerships these science-based, local agencies have helped to make this province a leader in flood management and integrated watershed management.
Conservation Authorities may not win a popularity contest around all tables, but they continue to provide technical expertise and advice, and look for solutions with all levels of government and business sectors; solutions that enable growth while still protecting important natural resources that we need for a healthy economy, environment and people.
Conservation Authorities applaud the direction the government is taking to manage the impacts of growth in the Greater Golden Horseshoe region and would hope to look forward to continuing as important partners in helping all levels of government – and residents – to meet the plans objectives.
Author: Bonnie Fox, Manager, Planning and Policy, Conservation Ontario