ERCA Approves 2022 DRAFT Budget Priorities

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Essex Region – The Essex Region Conservation Authority has unanimously approved its 2022 Draft Budget for circulation its governing municipalities. The budget totals just over $9.1 million, and includes a levy request of $3,540,303, representing a 2.5% increase from 2021. This is equivalent to $23.15 per household, based on a $300,000 current value assessment.

Completing the Little River Floodplain Mapping and the Turkey Hydrologic and Hydraulic Modelling, planting at least 60,000 trees, embarking on a large-scale restoration project with Caldwell First Nation, and improving accessibility at the John R. Park Homestead and Devonwood Conservation Areas are just some of the top priorities ERCA has outlined for 2021.  Building a new Greenway entrance, undertaking significant restoration work at the historic John R. Park Homestead, transforming business processes to improve service delivery, and updating technology infrastructure, network security and information systems are also key projects.

The Authority’s budget presentation responds to the changes to the Conservation Authorities Act included in Bill 229. It includes mandatory program expenses of approximately $5.5 million, including conservation areas capital projects. Non-mandatory expenses total just over $3.3 million. The majority of the requested levy (77%) supports delivery of mandatory services with the remainder 23% of the levy allocated to delivery of non-mandatory, but core recurring watershed programs.

“2022 budget information is based on the draft categorization of activities into Mandatory and Non-Mandatory services,” said Tim Byrne, ERCA’s CAO. “In accordance with the requirements of the Transition Plan, ERCA is finalizing its inventory of programs and services, including costing and funding information, for review by the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks and our member municipalities.”

By 2024, the Authority will need to obtain funding agreements with municipalities where municipal support is needed to fund non-mandatory services, which have historically been matched dollar for dollar, if not exceeded.

“Between 2017 and 2021, the Authority received municipal funds of $9,774,032, representing levy and special-project funds, for programs and projects which are anticipated to be categorized as Non-Mandatory under the Act,” explained ERCA Chair Tania Jobin. “During that time, non-municipal funds of $9,913,725 were received to support those very same initiatives. This financial return of $1.01 for every $1 of investment is over and above the incalculable value that implementing these important conservation projects provides to our community’s environmental health and sustainability.”

The 2022 Draft Budget, Discussion and Analysis can be found here.

The Essex Region Conservation Authority is a public sector organization established by the Province in 1973, and governed by local municipalities to provide for the organization and delivery of programs and services that further the conservation, restoration, development and management of natural resources in watersheds in Ontario.

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