Mono Council gets update from NVCA

May 5, 2016   ·   0 Comments

The Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority (NVCA) provided an update on its activities at last week’s Mono council meeting.

CEO Gayle Wood and NVCA chair Innisfil Councillor Doug Lougheed were on hand to inform council of the initiatives they completed in 2015 and the budget for 2016.

The Authority’s mandate is “to establish and undertake, in the area over which it has jurisdiction, a program designed to further the conservation, restoration, development and management of natural resources.”

“Everyone knows keeping our headwaters clean and clear is so important to our Great Lakes,” said Ms. Wood, adding the NVCA’s goals are aligned with the Town’s Official Plan.

NVCA jurisdiction covers 87 per cent of the township (about 243 square kilometres). A tributary, Sheldon Creek, and the Nottawasaga River both run through Mono.

In 2015, NVCA obtained 17 Conservation Authorities Act Approvals, five non-compliance reviews under the Act, 37 consents and two site plan reviews. They also issued nine flood warnings and had two benthics monitoring sites.

In terms of community outreach, the NVCA has held special events such as the Spring Tonic Maple Syrup Festival, Family Day and provided opportunities for involvement including stakeholder committees and volunteering.

They educate 12,000 students a year and are introducing a new camp in Mono for 2016.

The NVCA applied $19,778 in stewardship and forestry grants in Mono in 2015. About 11,150 trees were planted, 35 forest acres were managed and 400 metres of stream were rehabilitated or protected. In April, 78 volunteers planted 655 native trees along Baker Creek in the headwaters of the Nottawasaga River to enhance habitat and improve water quality with the Headwater Streams Committee.

The NVCA budget overview total revenues for 2016 and total expenditures were both  $4,990,861.

The NVCA will be leveraging Mono’s levy of $78,836 against its $4.99 million 2016 revenue, Ms. Wood reported.

She concluded by sharing the NVCA priorities, which include service delivery and operational review, the Conservation Authorities Act Review, the NVCA Fees Review (2015/16), Federal Clean Up Fund, invasive species and climate change.

Councillor Fred Nix said he had many questions and comments on the matter but he would limit it to four. He asked what the town needs to do with high water or flood warnings, service agreements, the Natural Heritage Study and plans related to climate change.

Ms. Wood said the NVCA’s director of engineering will be meeting with each of the emergency services teams in the municipalities this year to discuss the issue. She also reported the NVCA is aware of the fact that the Town may want assistance with the Natural Heritage Study and that they are will to sit down to develop terms of reference to see how that is possible.

As for the service agreement, it is recommended by the province that all municipalities have service agreements with conservation authorities so that they understand what services are provided.

She also hopes to have a roundtable meeting with the local CAOs to discuss climate change.

Deputy Mayor Ken McGhee recognized that although the NVCA does studies and reports and provides comments to the Town, they lack authority and don’t help in the decision-making process. He asked if there is any way that the reports can move forward and a solution can be reached.

“The studies help us prioritize where we are going to do our stewardship,” said Ms. Wood. “We maintain what is clean and repair what is debilitated.”

Ms. Wood explained that the Act gives the conservation authorities teeth in one area, and that is flood plain regulations.

“We are the end producers there,” said Ms. Wood adding the comments are weak because they don’t have authority in other areas.

“You’re raising an issue that is being raised across the province. That is why the Province is doing a review of the Conservation Authorities Act this year. One of the key things reviewed will be role and mandate and what advice we can provide you. That will be clearer to us.”

Councillor Sharon Martin commented she was at a heritage committee meeting the night before and they were discussing the Violet Hill spillway and proposing to designate it a natural heritage area.

“Is there any way the NVCA would be supportive of this?” she asked.

Ms. Wood advised her that the NVCA has an ecologist on staff who could be contacted to help if the committee needs advice on the natural heritage features in that area.

Councillor Ralph Manktelow asked about Phragmites, an invasive plant causing damage to Ontario’s biodiversity, wetlands and beaches.

Mr. Lougheed reported that it’s a very important issue and has been spoken about by the Minister at Queen’s Park. He added the conservation authorities are working hard to get a regulation in place to deal with and prevent phragmites.

“We do some work with municipalities on phragmites eradication,” said Ms. Wood.

“It’s a huge issue – that’s why it’s being dealt with and considered at the provincial level. There are many invasive species in this watershed.

Mr. McGhee advised that the Town has an advisory committee working on a plan for climate change and hoped they could consult with the NVCA. He was told to send the plans and the NVCA will ensure they are applicable and more seamless through the municipality.

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