Conservation Authorities – Whose Side Are They Really On? By Jeff D. Bogaerts

Published July 1, 2019

For those who read my articles, I do not mince my words when it comes to Conservation Authorities in Ontario.

Let me be clear on the OLA position regarding the Conservation Authorities. What they were and are supposed to do for the people of Ontario is Protection from Flooding, build and maintain dams, build storm ponds, ensure Municipal drains are maintained by Municipalities and kept free of debris, keep waterways clear of debris, siltation, removal of beaver dams that cause woodland damage and put property at risk, stop erosion, mapping of watersheds, wetlands and flood zones.

I will state for the record that the Conservation Authorities, operating as they currently are in Ontario, is Abusive.

Criminal is the correct word to use, however the evidence gathered in our investigations so far is insufficient to get us there. Our efforts continue and we are making progress.

Harsh words you say, somewhat over the top, conspiracy theory, a little extreme, maybe you should tone it down a notch, blah, blah, blah …

My answer to these comments is … No.

The original reason for having a Conservation Authority (CA’s) was to protect people and property from flooding. This goes back to 1932 in the Ontario Legislature where discussions to create an Act for protection started.

What we do not want them to do is take over septic system approvals, building permit approvals, stop property owners from protecting their land from flooding or erosion, restrict land use on property not owned by the CA’s or where land contracts are not in place. Place setbacks onto property not owned by the CA’s with restrictions as to what a property owner can and cannot do with their land.

The protection of people and property has been removed and replaced with the environment. What the CA’s do not get, is that the environment includes people. People are the priority, people count, people are important, human beings are so far up the list of priorities that everything else is irrelevant.

Wow, now that is a major statement. You can hear the green people and environmentalists falling off their bean bag chairs as if they were hit with a pillow. Well, let’s clarify the statement. There are two rules of life that everyone needs to follow. There are many rules in life, but these two fit the CA situation.

The First Rule is, “Do No Harm Too Your Neighbour”, and the Second Rule is, “Mind Your Own Business Until Asked”.

The CA’s just do not get this at all. Every piece of property that they designate as hazardous land, environmentally protected, wetland, provincially significant wetland, woodland, or let’s make up another new protection name because we are bored, destroys people’s property.

On May 14 I attended a CA Board meeting. Thank the gods that live in the forest that there were enough clear minds around the board table that listened to a private property owner presentation showing flawed data being used in a questionable computer model. A deferral to a date in July was set to allow a second review.

Without this second review, millions of private property dollars would have been lost to devaluation. Properties would not have been sold at fair market value. Mortgages and credit lines would have been downgraded. Retirement plans would need re-adjustment. All this because of land being designated as a flood plain. A flood plain where no flood has ever been recorded.

What is extremely disturbing, is that a notice for public input was posted about the upcoming designation. What this really means is, notify the public of what we are intending to do to your land, and we do not care what you say, it is already a done deal.

Well not this time. You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time. In this case there were just enough people that got in front of the wave to make a difference and force a second review.

For example, if a wetland has been identified and a 120-metre setback placed around the wetland, part of the setback may extend onto your property. This would be a No. The extent of the wetland boundary should stop at your property line. This would be the same with any land designation.

However, that is not the case today. CA’s have placed restrictions on land they do not own and threaten property owners with fines and or prison time for violations without a permit issued by the CA. The new proposed Conservation Authority Act has the following penalties.

30.5 (1) Every person is guilty of an offence if he or she contravenes, (2) A person who commits an offence under subsection (1) is liable on conviction, (a) in the case of an individual, (i) to a fine of not more than $50,000 or to a term of imprisonment of not more than three months, or to both, and (ii) to an additional fine of not more than $10,000 for each day or part of a day on which the offence occurs or continues; and

(b) in the case of a corporation,

(i) to a fine of not more than $1,000,000, and

(ii) to an additional fine of not more than $200,000 for each day or part of

a day on which the offence occurs or continues. 2017, c. 23, Sched. 4, s.

29.

These penalties also apply to failing to follow a Stop Work Order issued by the CA. For simply not following the SWO you will be fined plus whatever charges may be laid. You would think these penalties would be enough, but you would be wrong. Under the new act, there is a “monetary benefit” penalty that is in addition to the fines above.

Monetary benefit

(3) Despite the maximum fines set out in clauses (2) (a) and (b), a court

that convicts a person of an offence under clause (1) (a) or (b) may

increase the fine it imposes on the person by an amount equal to the amount

of the monetary benefit that was acquired by the person, or that accrued to

the person, as a result of the commission of the offence. 2017, c. 23,

Sched. 4, s. 29.

Putting a truck load of topsoil on your property for grass seeding, grading or the vegetable garden is all subject to the CA Act and / or a local by-law that is tied into the CA Act.

Farmers are now coming under the control of CA’s and what is a normal farm practice. CA’s can veto manure spreading, land leveling, building permits and Engineered stamped drawings for construction. There are some CA’s that do not use Engineering reviews to reject stamped drawings, they simply do not approve.

Property values can drop or not be saleable at all with land designation applied by a CA. However, your property taxes are not affected, you still pay them.

What does the 2017 flood and the 2018 flood both have in common? A “gift” from the CA’s of a 50% reduction in Permit Fees to help the people affected by the flooding rebuild. Yes. You read that correctly. A Permit to rebuild. Not only do you need a Building Permit, but you also need a Permit from the CA’s to rebuild. You may not be able to rebuild in the same foundation footprint because you are too close to some designated area that was not designated previously. Building Permits will not be issued without a CA Permit.

 

A Building Inspector was charged by one CA for issuing a Building Permit without the CA Permit. If you get a Building Permit first, do not build without a Written Authorization from your local CA. Don’t Do It. You are setting yourself up for a major problem.

In Leeds-Grenville County the CA there has a dam and have bought farmland around the dam and they intend to raise the dam level. More farmland being affected and taken out of production.

In Western Ontario, a local municipal well leaked and flooded a farm field across the road and created an artificial wetland. The farm owner lost 5 acres of land.

A farm in Stittsville that never had flooding/wetland problems before is now having these problems after a sub-division was built.

A family with a house and 10 acres in Amaranth Township was flooded because the Municipal drain built in 1910 was not properly maintained. The last clean out was 1997. There are collapsed banks, vegetation overgrowth, fallen footbridge, beavers. The property is now declared a wetland because of the Municipal Drain. The next-door neighbour’s foundation is a disaster because the CA has declared a wetland 1.3 metres from the foundation. A house that was built in 2005. The owner was trying to repair the foundation leakage and was stopped by an injunction. The foundation stayed open all winter.

The horror stories continue. The Clyde River in Lanark County. Questions are being asked about the flooding. These questions need to be answered.

Why are parts of the Ottawa River dry and other parts are flooded? Why did the Rideau River not flood but the Mississippi River did? These two rivers are next door to each other.

Who is responsible? How is the flooding tied into Climate Change? The people are starting to see patterns developing and are beginning to ask and demand answers.

Conservation Authorities are to protect people and property from flooding.

Until the people ask for CA help, the CA’s should mind their own business and leave their neighbours alone.

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