Massive changes to Conservation Authorities mean development could be allowed closer to rivers, wetlands and forests, threatening contamination of our lakes and rivers, more floods, and reduced wildlife habitat.
What we do on the land impacts water. Conservation Authorities are there to ensure that planners and developers use the land responsibly to manage the risks of flooding, and the contamination of our lakes and rivers. But now through Bill 108 – the More Homes, More Choice Act 2019 – the Ontario government is proposing massive changes to how these authorities are run, and to the programs they deliver. The changes would limit Conservation Authorities’ powers to protect Ontario’s watersheds, while at the same time cutting their funding for flood hazard prevention in half.
Ontario’s lakes and rivers are incredible natural features which allow this province to grow and thrive, and we need to protect them.Bill 108 is a developer’s dream, but it could be a nightmare for Ontario’s freshwater. We need to protect Conservation Authorities, support the Great Lakes, stop road salt contamination and prioritise drinking water.
Protect Conservation Authorities
Until now, the Conservation Authority model of watershed management was the best in Canada, serving as a vital line of defence to mitigate the effects of climate change and human impact on Ontario’s land and water. We can’t afford to let them be gutted.
Stop Bill 108. Conservation Authorities need to be protected in order to limit flooding, prevent the destruction of more vital wetlands and forests, and avoid the contamination of our lakes and rivers.
Conservation Authorities also need their full funding reinstated for flood prevention. Already stretched to fulfill their duties, we can’t imagine what a 50 per cent cut could mean for Ontario’s waterways.
Support the Great Lakes
The Great Lakes are an economic and environmental powerhouse, supporting billions of dollars of revenue each year. They provide millions of people with clean drinking water, recreation and jobs. But the Great Lakes are threatened by environmental issues such as toxic algae blooms, invasive species, and a changing climate.
Stop Road Salt Contamination
Every year millions of tonnes of road salt are used to de-ice Ontario’s roads. When the ice melts or rain falls, much of it gets washed away into our rivers and lakes. At certain times during the winter, chloride (from salt) levels in the water have been recorded as high as ocean levels!
This kind of chloride contamination can kill fish and seriously damage aquatic ecosystems that we rely on. It’s important to manage our roads safely, but Ontario also needs to manage how that’s affecting our fresh water.
As a first step, the government should set a Provincial Water Quality Objective to monitor and reduce the heaps of salt washing into Ontario’s waterways.
Prioritise Drinking Water
Ontario has wonderful and bountiful supplies of groundwater, which millions of people rely on to drink. But commercial water-taking for bottled water and industry threatens to undermine this supply.
The provincial government needs to prioritise groundwater for drinking first and foremost, and only consider commercial uses once needs for drinking water and agriculture are met and the water levels are in good condition.
For more information about the risks to Ontario’s clean water, see the links below and visit our resources page.