I am a constituent and resident of Meaford, Ontario, and I am writing to express my strong opposition to Schedule 6 in Bill 229. I am requesting that Schedule 6 be removed from Bill 229. I am also requesting that the Ontario government show a better commitment to protecting Ontario’s wetlands and forests.
Protecting, supporting and recovering from COVID-19 should not be used as an excuse to fast track cuts to agencies, services and programs; especially when the proposed changes to those agencies have no clearly proposed mechanism by which they will help Ontario post COVID-19. Reducing conservation authorities’ ability to self-govern, filling the membership of a conservation authority’s board with politicians, and introducing lengthy appeals processes do not appear to support the province in its recovery from COVID-19. In fact, the proposed changes look to make the system more burdensome and less efficient to run – with additional costs and red tape.
A conservation authority exists to act in its own best interests (i.e. to protect local ecosystems and the people who live within them), and should not be acting in the best interests of the municipality. By changing board membership to include municipal councillors and by asking board members to act in the best interests of the municipality instead of the environment, conflicts of interest will most certainly arise. This compromises the ability of conservation authorities to protect local ecosystems, and protect people and property from hazards such as flooding and erosion.
Schedule 6 would only benefit developers. As a resident, I do not see any benefit to myself or my neighbours by allowing developers ever more leverage. We are at a time in history where the importance of our wetlands and forests are becoming more and more evident; both as important parts of our ecosystem and important parts of our human experience and health. Natural spaces and safe watersheds have been a place of normalcy and peace for our family and many others during the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, COVID-19 should serve as a catalyst to protect these spaces and the agencies that look after them, not expose them to further degradation.
Jane Mei, Meaford