New Series of Articles on the Conservation Authorities Act by Paralegal, Jeff Bogaerts

I am starting a new series of articles. I hope the last series was able to remove some of the mystery when appearing in court to answer charges brought against you using the Provincial Offences Act relating to municipal by-laws, the Highway Traffic Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, Game and Fish Act and 300,000 other acts and regulations just to name a few. Yes, that is right, 300,000 so stop with the rolling of the eyes and the “yeah yeah sure, whatever” attitude. It is more than 300,000 but the real number keeps growing and 300,000 sounds at least like a believable number.

This next series of articles will be specific to the Conservation Authorities Act and regulations. We will refer to definitions such as “expropriation” and “injurious affection” and how definitions in one dictionary may not be useable in court but another definition from a different source can.

We will refer to the Drainage Act, other acts, regulations, Riparian Rights, Tort law, Trespass, damages arising from water and a very old time favorite, the Beaver Dam.

A popular term becoming well known to the public found under the Conservation Authorities Act (“CA”) is “designated wetlands”. Other terms, “Provincially Significant Wetlands and Woodlots”, “conservation lands”, “hazardous lands” and other CA related terms. We will find out where they come from, who made them up, who is the controlling organization and whether they are enforceable on private land without the consent of the property owner. The answer to some of these questions may be an eye opener and as a very close friend of mine would say, “it will make your head spin”.

We will also journey into how the CA has control over the Building Code, Building Code Inspectors, Municipalities, property taxes and MPAC. As a side journey we will review the possible negative effects these designations could have on your mortgage, fair market property value and lines of credit both personal and business.

One interesting area we will look at is the so called, “jurisdiction over all lands in the watershed” where the CA believe they have full authority. The Paramountcy of law may have something to say about that, along with the Criminal Code and let’s not forget an old time favorite, The Magna Carta and the Common Law.

Everything is open for interpretation until you are in a court of law, where the rubber meets the road, so remember, that there are four sides to every story. Your side, my side, the actual true facts of the case and whatever the judge decides.

A new trendy phrase is the “Natural Heritage System” or in layman terms, you own the land, pay the mortgage and property taxes but government tells you what you can and cannot do with your land. Neat trick eh? I do not have to own something to control it, I just need to scare the pants off you with threats of monetary fines or imprisonment or both.

Yes, imprisonment. Under the Conservation Authority Act, you can be fined up to $10,000 per charge and up to 3 months in prison. Is that scary enough for you? Is this the kind of power and control you are willing to give freely to your government and elected officials? Do not answer yes to that question, not even as a joke. It is the same as saying you have a bomb in your pants while trying to chat up the pretty girl standing beside you waiting in the security line before boarding your flight. The only smile on her face you are going to see is through your tears as your eyes are swelling up from the pepper spray and hearing her laughter as you lay spread eagled on the floor doing the fish flop dance under the strobe light of a taser, while a 300 pound security guy named Bubba is screaming at you to stop resisting while he has his knee in your back.

So, this should be a fun trip into a new section of law. Let’s make it fun and safe so we do not end up spending time with our new friend Bubba.

“Those are all my matters before the court today your Worship, may I be excused? Thank-you your Worship.”