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floodingThe Grey Sauble Conservation Authority is pleased that the report released today by the Province’s Special Advisor on Flooding recognizes the critical role that conservation authorities (CAs) play in flood management in Ontario.

Flood management in Ontario is a shared responsibility among municipalities, emergency management officials, the Province and conservation authorities. This report recognizes the value of the conservation authority model, noting that “the development of the modern floodplain policy in Ontario, the watershed approach, the conservation authority model, and the flood standards have been extremely effective at reducing flood risks.” And states that, “These
policies have been credited with keeping losses associated with flooding in Ontario lower than losses seen in other Canadian provinces… and will be increasingly valuable in protecting Ontarians from flooding and other natural hazards.”

“Review of the 66 recommendations provided in the report illustrates the importance of a collaborative approach to flood management in Ontario, including conservation authorities,” said Tim Lanthier, Interim General Manager of Grey Sauble Conservation Authority. “We are hopeful that the results of this report will help to re-establish and solidify a collaborative working relationship between all levels of government to reduce flood risk in Ontario.”

“We’re very pleased to see a recommendation in this report that the Province maintain, at a minimum, the current level of funding to support flood related programs,” said Lanthier. “However, with the recent 50 per cent reduction to conservation authorities’ provincial transfer payments for the natural hazards program, the Province should be looking to increase natural hazard management spending to at least reinstate what has been lost.”

Following up from a difficult spring flood season in many parts of Ontario that stretched into the summer months, the Province appointed Doug McNeil as Special Advisor on Flooding to conduct an independent review of flood management and the 2019 flood events in Ontario and provide advice to the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry.

Mr. McNeil examined Ontario’s current flood management framework, exploring the various roles of agencies, such as conservation authorities, who are involved in reducing flood risk, as well as reviewing the policies and technical guidance which makes up the policy framework for flood management in Ontario.

Conservation Authorities reduce flood risk by relying on a watershed management approach. “The core mandate of conservation authorities is the conservation, restoration, development and management of natural resources,” added Lanthier. “For decades, conservation authorities throughout Ontario have been operating under this mandate, on a watershed-scale, to manage flood and erosion risk and to build better watershed resilience for the safety and benefit of our communities.”

In addition to operating $3.8 billion worth of flood control infrastructure, CAs also bring added protection and benefits through various watershed management programs and activities such as:

  • effective review of development to mitigate flood and erosion impacts,
  • watershed scale monitoring, data collection/management and modelling,
  • watershed scale studies, plans, assessments and/or strategies as well as
  • watershed-wide actions including stewardship, communication, outreach and education activities.

Conservation authorities across the province are recommending to the Province that these kinds of foundational watershed management activities be captured in the Conservation Authorities Act regulations which are currently being developed. The Grey Sauble Conservation Authority will be working with Conservation Ontario to review the Flood Advisor’s report in more detail and look forward to further consultation and collaboration with the Province in the coming months.

Ontario’s Special Advisor on Flooding Report to Government Report:  

source: Grey Sauble Conservation Authority media release

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