Essex Region – Bill 23, More Homes Built Faster received rapid Royal Assent on November 28, despite the Province of Ontario extending the comment period for many elements of this Bill until December 9.
“In the absence of the Bill’s associated regulations, there has been widespread confusion on what this actually means,” says Tim Byrne, ERCA Chief Administrative Officer. “We would like to clarify it is business as usual for our permitting services, as the provision allowing the Minister to issue regulations to exempt certain development projects with Planning Act approval in certain municipalities from conservation authority permits is not currently in effect.” ERCA’s Board approved fee schedule also remains in effect.
Plan review and commenting under the Mandatory Programs and Services Regulation which includes natural hazards and source water protection continues to be unaffected, and any changes to non-mandatory review and commenting services for development applications will not take effect until the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry issues a clarifying regulation. Accordingly, municipal planning applications should continue to be circulated to ERCA for review.
“ERCA, like all conservation authorities, urges the province to reconsider this rapid elimination of environmental protection tools and re-establish the Conservation Authorities Working Group, and to listen to the concerns from municipalities across Ontario,” Byrne goes on to say. “The changes to the Planning Act and Conservation Authorities Act will diminish ERCA’s well-established role in protecting our communities from flooding and supporting our municipalities in protecting the natural environment. It will also cost municipalities in our region tens of millions of dollars, while putting lives and property at risk.”
The Essex Region Conservation Authority is a public sector organization established by the Province in 1973, and governed by local municipalities to deliver programs and services that further the conservation, restoration, development and management of natural resources in watersheds in the Windsor-Essex-Pelee Island region.