Putting Growth in the Right Spot Ensures Public Health and Safety: A Response to the Housing Supply Consultation

There’s nothing like a powerful rainstorm or rapid snowmelt to make us thankful for the work that Conservation Authorities do.

There’s nothing like a powerful rainstorm or rapid snowmelt to make us thankful for the work that Conservation Authorities do. Without Ontario’s progressive land use policies and Conservation Authority regulations which protect people and prevent costly damages and business disruptions, things could be much worse.

Conservation Authorities are legislated by the Province to direct development outside of natural hazards such as flood-prone areas and to conserve critical natural resources and systems such as drinking water sources.

We recognize that our province is an economic engine for the country and is home to a large and widely diverse growing population. The Planning Act, the Provincial Policy Statement and Provincial Plans provide critical protections that are important to long-term economic, environmental, and social well-being. Conservation Authority planning processes and permitting approvals help to guide development so that it takes place in appropriate areas.

We agree with the development sector that we need ‘evidence-based decision-making’ to determine how and where growth should occur. 

Through their watershed management programs such as watershed planning and monitoring, Conservation Authorities are able to track and report on conditions across the province. This watershed knowledge is then used as evidence to provide input to planning processes which help to guide decision-making so that it considers the condition of the environment in which Ontarians want to live and work.

Conservation Authorities are committed to providing expert advice, through strong watershed-based science. We recognize, and agree, that there is a need for some improvements that will support growth while still maintaining the health and safety of our residents. These could include:

  • Require pre-consultation with approval agencies such as Conservation Authorities and government
  • Develop user-friendly guidance materials for approval authorities which could simplify the approval process and requirements for approvals for developers
  • Better define what makes up a complete application
  • Update and simplify technical guidelines
  • Ensure the costs of growth are shared; new development needs to be able to help address current aging infrastructure and contribute to the building of new infrastructure – both of which are needed to support additional housing

Planning for growth is not an easy process that’s done in a day and Conservation Authorities are very aware that time is money. 

In order to ensure we are as efficient as possible, Conservation Authorities work with partners in the private and public sectors to fine tune the approvals process. As a result of changes made to the Conservation Authorities Act, Conservation Ontario and the Conservation Authorities have been participating in a provincial multi-sector committee, including the development sector, to figure out how we can improve our approval processes. 

As well, Conservation Authorities are working right now, with Conservation Ontario, to streamline their own approvals processes to create greater consistency and efficiencies.

We are committed to continuing this work.

Authors: Leslie Rich, Policy and Planning Liaison; Bonnie Fox, Manager of Policy & Planning and Jane Lewington, Marketing & Communications Specialist