Read about how Conservation Authorities are Improving Customer Service to Support Sustainable Growth
Streamlining and Timely Approvals Are Underway
In 2019, Conservation Ontario worked with Ontario's 36 conservation authorities to develop and implement the Client Service and Streamlining Initiative. The development of this Initiative represents a commitment to undertaking improvements to conservation authorities’ roles in municipal plan review services and permitting services, while providing for the continued protection of public health and safety, and the environment. Through the Initiative, conservation authorities have identified three ways that they can streamline their approval activities and reduce “red tape” in order to help the Province address the lack of housing supply.
Working with the development and construction community, as well as municipalities, conservation authorities are implementing activities, as well as identifying and addressing other specific concerns, to:
1.Improve Client Service and Accountability while protecting public health and safety, and, the environment
- Endorsement of the CA-Municipality MOU Template for Planning and Development Reviews, Client Service Standards for Conservation Authority Plan and Permit Review, Template for CA Planning Comments, the Annual Reporting on Timelines Template and the Guideline for Conservation Authority Pre-Consultation (Planning and Permitting Applications)*
- Working with high-growth CAs to implement a consistent client-centric CA review and approval process checklist of CA policies, agreements, reports and other tools to promote transparency and better serve our clients. These high-growth CAs include: Central Lake Ontario, Credit Valley, Essex Region, Grand River, Halton Region, Hamilton Region, Lake Simcoe Region, Niagara Peninsula, North Bay-Mattawa, Nottawasaga Valley, Rideau Valley, South Nation, Toronto and Region and Upper Thames River. In 2021, 13 additional CAs have volunteered to work towards implementation of the client-centric checklist as a best practice. Conservation Ontario will work with these CAs to track implementation of their checklists, as resources allow.
- Conducted regional client-centric customer service training sessions for CA staff
*Note: As a result of recent amendments to the Conservation Authorities Act and associated regulations, some of these document contain information that requires update. As these documents include important best practices which have been developed in consultation with municipalities and the development community, Conservation Authorities continue to use them as the basis for the Client Service and Streamlining Initiative. Where discrepancies may exist between these documents and the Conservation Authorities Act and associated regulations, the legislation and regulations prevail.
CO Staff Contact: Leslie Rich
2. Increase Speed of Approvals while protecting public health and safety, and, the environment
- Undertook a representative process flow review to understand bottlenecks in the review and approval process
- Starting in 2020, the high-growth CAs (noted above) began reporting annually on their permit review timelines. The 2021 Annual Report infographic outlines the positive results of permit review timeline tracking for the high-growth CAs from January 1st - December 31st, 2021. The high-growth CAs prepared these results consistent with the Annual Reporting on Timelines Template. Overall, the high-growth CAs were highly successful in issuing permits within both the provincial timelines as well as the Conservation Ontario best practice timelines. These results demonstrated improvements in CA timelines from the 2020 Annual Report, particularly given a sizable increase in permits issued from 2020 to 2021. The infographic also outlines the success of many non high-growth CAs who joined in the reporting cycle in 2021 and will continue to report annually.
- Starting in 2022, 15 additional CAs have agreed to tracking and reporting on their permit review timelines, in a manner consistent with the Annual Reporting on Timelines Template. This brings the total to 29 CAs who have confirmed their participation in the annual reporting on Section 28 review timelines, beginning in 2022.
3. Reduce Red tape and Regulatory burden while protecting public health and safety, and, the environment
- Review and recommend as appropriate candidate legislative amendment opportunities
- Engage in consultation on the Phase 2 Regulations under the Conservation Authorities Act
- Engage in consultation (as appropriate) on the Section 28 Regulation under the Conservation Authorities Act to identify areas to reduce red tape and regulatory burden
To support this initiative a Steering Committee of conservation authority General Managers/Chief Administrative Officers has been formed as well as a Conservation Ontario Timely Review and Approvals Task Force which consists of senior-level conservation authority staff who will provide on-going technical support for key deliverables. Workplan deliverables are reported to Conservation Ontario Council on a quarterly basis.