RVCA Responds to Province’s More Homes Built Faster Act
RIDEAU VALLEY, Nov. 10, 2022 – Taxpayers, municipalities and our natural systems will bear the costs of the Province’s affordable housing legislation released last month.
While the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority strongly supports efforts to address the ongoing housing crisis, many of the proposed changes related to conservation authorities will have significant impacts and costs while doing little to increase housing supply.
“Improvements to the system must never be at the expense of protecting people and their properties from flooding, erosion and slope failures, or protecting the very features that reduce these risks such as wetlands,” said Sommer Casgrain-Robertson, General Manager of the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority.
Proposed changes and their impacts:
- Weakening the regulatory ability of CAs to protect people and property from natural hazards like flooding, erosion and slope failures - leading to greater risk of property damage and public safety.
- Eliminating the CA’s ability to address water quality issues through planning and permitting, leading to increased nutrients and sediment in lakes and rivers. We know from the 1990s this causes excessive weed growth and algae blooms that have economic impacts on property values, agriculture, tourism, recreation, fisheries and sources of drinking water for many residents.
- Reducing wetland evaluations and protections, leading to increased flooding, erosion and drought, as well as diminished groundwater, which is the source of drinking water in much of rural Ontario. Studies have shown the loss of wetlands in the Rideau watershed would increase flood levels by 10%.
- Downloading more responsibilities to municipalities who have indicated will lead to inefficiencies, delays and increased risk and costs.
- Freezing development fees, which will pass development costs to taxpayers instead of growth paying for growth.
“We are calling on the Provincial Government to reconvene their multi-stakeholder Conservation Authorities Working Group to consider the impacts of these proposed changes,” said Casgrain-Robertson, who is a sitting member of the working group. “The working group has proven it can provide effective recommendations to government that increase housing supply without jeopardizing public safety, dismissing natural systems or downloading additional responsibilities to municipalities.”
The Ontario Association of Municipalities (AMO) shared similar concerns, stating “many of the proposed amendments to the Conservation Authorities Act and the Planning Act in Bill 23 are concerning, as they signal a move away from environmental protection at a time when climate change impacts are being felt more at the local level. Bill 23 proposes sweeping changes to the regulatory responsibilities of Ontario’s 36 conservation authorities that, if passed, will undermine the collaborative and productive changes put forward by the Ministry led Conservation Authority Working Group over the past two years”.
It is well understood that water flows across municipal boundaries – and so do the impacts of development. That’s why over the past 70 years, municipalities have formed 36 CAs across Ontario to assess and understand the cumulative impact of development within each watershed. At a time when climate change is causing more frequent and intense storm events, the role of CAs has never been more critical.
“CAs have proven they are not a barrier to development, but rather facilitate sound and reasonable growth,” said Pieter Leenhouts, Chair of the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority. “They have been modernizing their policies and procedures, streamlining approvals, reducing timelines, meeting and reporting on service standards and promoting pre-consultation with applicants to provide the best service possible to municipalities, communities, residents and developers.”
Not a barrier:
- The Province’s “Housing Affordability Task Force Report” introduced 55 recommendations to increase the housing supply in Ontario, and CAs were not named within the report.
- CAs save municipalities and developers time and money, as the cost-efficient CA system allows member municipalities to share the expertise of CA hydrogeologists, biologists and engineering staff to review planning applications instead of each hiring their own – a huge savings for taxpayers.
- CAs also save the Province and taxpayers money by reducing the financial impacts of severe flooding like Eastern Ontario experienced in 2017 and 2019. The province’s own Special Advisor on Flooding, Doug McNeil, in his 2019 report found that Ontario’s unique CA system remains the fundamental reason why Ontario has not seen the same catastrophic flooding impacts in the billions of dollars as Alberta and BC, which do not have CAs to direct development away from high-risk areas.
“CAs are recognized as a cost-efficient, collaborative partner,” said Casgrain-Robertson. “We are committed to helping Ontario meet its housing goals by ensuring safe and sustainable development that balances the needs of people and the environment, the economy, and local ecology.”
For more information about the RVCA and CA roles and responsibilities, visit www.rvca.ca.
To learn more, or to provide input on the proposed changes, visit the Environmental Registry of Ontario for these Notices:
- Proposed updates to the regulation of development for the protection of people and property from natural hazards in Ontario (ERO number 019-2927)
- Legislative and regulatory proposals affecting conservation authorities to support the Housing Supply Action Plan 3.0 (ERO number 019-6141)
ERO 019-2927 also includes a Consultation Guide on how to provide your input.
To read Bill 23, visit the Ontario Legislative Assembly at this web page at Bill 23, More Homes Built Faster Act, 2022
If your application has been refused or approved with conditions, you can appeal through a the RVCA's Hearing Board.
For guidance, downoad the RVCA Hearing Procedures.
EASTERN ONTARIO, Oct. 17, 2022 – The Mississippi-Rideau Source Protection Region (MRSPR) has released an interactive StoryMap exploring threats to our region’s highly vulnerable aquifers – and what we can do about them.
Readers of all backgrounds and interest levels can use the new StoryMap to explore risks to groundwater through its digital maps, charts and photos.
“Whether you’re interested in the geology behind our groundwater system, the impacts of contamination on your family or what you can do about it, our new StoryMap offers a choose-your-own-adventure to explore a huge range of information,” said Rideau Valley Conservation Authority groundwater scientist Claire Milloy, who wrote and designed the digital product on behalf of the MRSPR.
About 90% of drinking water aquifers across the Mississippi and Rideau watersheds are considered highly vulnerable to contamination. These aquifers have very little protection from surface soils, which are necessary to filter chemicals, nutrients and other pollutants out of surface runoff as it trickles down from above.
Cracks in the exposed bedrock can allow contaminants from industrial, agricultural and residential activities to easily enter the groundwater below - and they're sometimes impossible to clean up.
The StoryMap and its accompanying resources were developed in accordance with an MRSPR policy encouraging groundwater threat awareness.
The education package also includes a series of “action sheets” highlighting best practices for homes and businesses, a three-part animated video series developed by the Spring Ridge Training Institute, and an extensive scientific bibliography intended for scientists, researchers, planners and engineers.
“We sincerely hope these resources will help shed some much-needed light on the risks facing our local groundwater supplies,” said Milloy, P. Geo. “It only takes a few minutes to contaminate an aquifer, but it can take hundreds of years to undo the damage – if it can be undone at all.”
The 8,500 km2 MRSPR is one of 19 in Ontario created under the Clean Water Act of 2006, which now operate through local conservation authorities. The MRSPR encompasses the watersheds of the Mississippi and Rideau rivers, and is jointly administered by the Rideau Valley and Mississippi Valley conservation authorities as well as a multi-stakeholder Source Protection Committee.
To learn more about highly vulnerable aquifers visit www.mrsourcewater.ca.
MISSISSIPPI and RIDEAU VALLEY WATERSHEDS, October 5, 2022 – Landowners in several Eastern Ontario municipalities will now receive septic approval services from their local conservation authority.
As of October 1, 2022, the Mississippi Valley and Rideau Valley Conservation Authorities have begun providing septic inspections, reviews and permits on behalf of the following municipalities:
- Township of Beckwith
- Town of Carleton Place
- Township of Lanark Highlands
- Town of Mississippi Mills
- Township of North Grenville
- Town of Smiths Falls
- Town of Westport
These municipalities were formerly serviced by the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit.
The Mississippi Valley and Rideau Valley Conservation Authorities have been providing septic review and approval services in the City of Ottawa and Tay Valley Township for more than 25 years and have knowledgeable and experienced staff to support this increased service area.
“We are pleased to support our local municipalities with septic review and approval services required under the Ontario Building Code,” said Terry Davidson, RVCA Director of Regulations and Chief Building Official for program delivery across the two watersheds. “We look forward to working with contractors and residents to ensure systems are properly installed and repaired with the goal of protecting homeowners and keeping communities healthy and safe.”
The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit will carry out all inspection work for permits received or extended on or before September 30, 2022. Property owners who have previously submitted a septic permit prior to September 30, will continue to have their application overseen by the Health Unit.
Visit www.rvca.ca/septic-approvals for a map of Eastern Ontario to guide you to your local septic approval agent as well as forms, fees, frequently asked questions, and other sewage system resources for landowners and contractors.
For more information:
BARRHAVEN, Sept. 27, 2022 – A section of trail at Chapman Mills Conservation Area will close on Monday, Oct. 3 so crews can install a new, state-of-the-art accessible pedestrian bridge this fall.
The current wooden bridge near the northern trailhead of Barrhaven’s most beloved boardwalk has reached the end of its life cycle. Thanks to local donors, several significant grants and support from the Rideau Valley Conservation Foundation (RVCF), the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority has secured the funding to do the work.
The trail will be closed on either side of the bridge for about six weeks. Visitors can still access the docks and picnic shelter from Winding Way Ave. Most of the trail will remain accessible from the southern trail connection beside Vimy Memorial Bridge.
“This is a really exciting project that will improve accessibility and safety at one of our busiest properties,” said Chelsey Ellis, RVCA’s conservation lands manager. “We know the closure will be inconvenient in the short term, but it’ll be worth it.”
The current bridge has several accessibility issues: it’s not wide enough for two people with wheelchairs or strollers to pass, for example, leaving one person to back up beside the path’s steep shorelines. The narrow bridge also led to temporary park closures in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic because adequate physical distancing couldn’t be maintained – leaving many local residents without their go-to nature escape just when they needed it most.
RVCA staff worked with the RVCF and local accessibility consultant Marnie Peters to ensure the new bridge is built to the gold standard of accessibility – not just the legislated minimums. This includes a wider deck, more gradual slopes, accessible sight lines and longer ramps.
“It’s critical that this urban oasis be as accessible as possible for the local community,” Ellis said. “It’s close to two large seniors’ residences and is located in the middle of a family-friendly suburb. It was time to get this done.”
Individuals can still donate to the bridge project directly at https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/73114.
To learn more visit www.rvcf.ca/ways-to-give/chapman-mills-accessible-bridge or contact Chelsey Ellis at .
MISSISSIPPI AND RIDEAU WATERSHEDS, September 22, 2022 — The Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks is seeking a dedicated new Chairperson to lead the Mississippi-Rideau Source Protection Committee.
Under the Clean Water Act of 2006, 19 local watershed-based source protection committees have been established across the province. These committees include representatives from local watershed stakeholders such as municipalities, agricultural groups, landowners, industry, environmental organizations and the public at large. As outlined in the legislation, the Minister is responsible for appointing a Chair to each of these committees.
Each committee, under the leadership and guidance of their Chair, is responsible for upholding and implementing the source protection plans that have been developed to protect municipal drinking water systems across Ontario, as well as their terms of reference and assessment reports. Chairs play an important role in guiding their committees in reporting on implementation of these plans and ensuring they remain relevant through future updates.
“If you have leadership experience and an interest in protecting drinking water sources, we encourage you to apply,” said Marika Livingston, Mississippi-Rideau Source Water Protection Project Manager. “We are proud of the work that has been done to ensure our region has a strong safety net to protect our drinking water, but there is more work to be done. We need a leader willing to guide and support our committee as we work though some major program updates and changes.”
Among other qualifications, the Chair position requires a multi-year commitment, an ability to understand scientific and technical reports and attendance at the several Source Protection Committee meetings held each year. Applicants must also live or work in the Mississippi or Rideau watersheds.
Further details regarding this part-time position, including descriptions of roles and responsibilities and an application form, are available online at https://www.pas.gov.on.ca/Home/Advertisement/750. A small per diem as well as expenses (mileage and meals) will be paid while working on Source Protection business.
Applications will be accepted until October 3, 2022.
WESTPORT, Sept. 20, 2022 – Cooler nights and shorter days are once again painting our forests the vibrant reds and golds that can only mean one thing: Fall has arrived.
And what better place to embrace your autumnal awe than at Foley Mountain Conservation Area in Westport? With stunning views from Spy Rock Lookout as well as 10 kilometres of trails through forests and wetlands, visitors have endless opportunities to immerse themselves in the season’s wonder.
But as the park’s busiest season ramps up, visitors are wise to plan ahead. To avoid big crowds and make the most of your trip, consider:
- Choosing an off-peak time, like weekdays or early mornings
- Parking further down the park road and hiking back to Spy Rock. The colours are worth it!
- Bringing change for the parking machine, or purchasing ahead with code 5204 on paybyphone.com
- Planning to spend the day and explore the entire park – even some of the more remote trails.
“This is such a spectacular time of year to be outdoors, especially in a forest like ours,” said Foley Mountain site supervisor Rebecca Whitman. “We are thrilled to see a renewed interest in getting outside and embracing nature, but it does mean visitors need to be more prepared during busy times of the year.”
Whitman recommended trying trails beyond the Spy Rock lookout to get your fall colour fix. The Orange Maple Trail, for example, starts at the interpretive centre and offers a spectacular show in the fall with its many towering maple, ash and poplar trees along its 2.3 km loop. Hikers can even follow it back to Spy Rock for a peek at the views before they head home.
The White Pine Trail is a great option for hikers looking for more of a challenge. Parking at the group camping site, they can connect to White Pine using the Blue Trail. From there, they’ll find towering white pines and stunted oak trees high on the ridge, mixed with excellent fall foliage as they pick their way back down the mountain.
"It's a beautiful part of the park to go into," said Whitman.
Foley's colours usually peak around Thanksgiving, give or take a week. Please bring a mask for crowded areas and follow all directional signage on the trails. If you are feeling ill or have been told to isolate, please stay home.
For more information about visiting Foley Mountain in the fall visit www.rvca.ca/foley-fall-colours or email . You can also follow us on Facebook at @FoleyMountain or @RideauValleyConservationAuthority. You can also follow @RideauValleyCA on Twitter and Instagram.