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  • News
  • December 12, 2017

McGarry Announces Passage of New Conservation Authorities Act

Provincial Government Overhauls the Land Use Planning Appeal System and Strengthening Watershed Conservation

Today, Ontario passed legislation that will modernize Conservation Authorities and give communities a stronger voice in land use planning announced Cambridge MPP and Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, Kathryn McGarry.

"Communities like ours benefit from the efforts of the Grand River Conservation Authority, and the many conservation authorities across our province,” said McGarry. “Today we took a huge step forward in ensuring conservation authorities have the tools and flexibility they need to address climate change, deliver exceptional services to communities, and protect people and personal property."

The Building Better Communities and Conserving Watersheds Act will modernize the Conservation Authorities Act, guiding the conservation of Ontario's watersheds. The legislation clarifies the roles and responsibilities of conservation authorities and strengthens oversight and accountability. It also encourages increased public engagement by setting requirements for more public disclosure and for meetings to be open to the public. These changes will enable conservation authorities to have the flexibility to address growing environmental pressures caused by climate change, such as flooding.

“This legislation is also taking action to give residents and municipalities a greater say in how our communities are developed and grow,” said McGarry. “Giving people a stronger voice in the planning of their own communities will help ensure these areas reflect the best interests of the people living in them today, as well as future generations.”

This legislation will also replace the Ontario Municipal Board with the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal, and help ensure that proceedings before the tribunal are faster, fairer and more affordable. The new legislation will also create the free Local Planning Appeal Support Centre, which will provide people across the province with information about the land use planning appeal process, legal and planning advice, and, in certain cases, may provide legal representation in proceedings before the tribunal.


  • Ontario has 36 conservation authorities, which are local organizations that manage and protect water and other natural resources.
  • Ninety per cent of people in Ontario live in a watershed managed by a conservation authority.
  • The Local Planning Appeal Tribunal will replace the Ontario Municipal Board. It will be an independent tribunal making decisions at arms’ length from the government.
  • In 2015-2016 (the most recent year for which data is available), the Ontario Municipal Board received 1,460 cases from across the province.
  • The Building Better Communities and Conserving Watersheds Act will come into force on a date named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor. 

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