Conservation Authorities await answers on future of agriculture programs

Conservation Ontario has been handed a letter from the provincial government informing the authority to stick to its “core mandate” when administering and funding programs. The trouble is, it’s unclear just what the core mandate includes or leaves out — and the lack of clarity is causing many to wonder how agriculture programs will factor in to the organization’s work.

In a letter sent out mid-August, Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks Jeff Yurek states legislative changes will give “greater control” to municipalities on conservation authority projects and budgets, saying that conservation authorities will have to “re-focus” their efforts on program delivery.

Kim Gavine is the general manager of Conservation Ontario and says that her organization was “stunned” by the directive from the provincial government.

In a letter posted on Conservation Ontario’s website, Gavine says this turn of events is disappointing and that the entire situation is confusing, leaving the organization unsure as to what programs will remain funded, or which will need to find other funding to continue. Conservation authorities work closely with farmers and farm groups on several different water quality and water monitoring projects. These projects may — or may not — fall within the authority’s “core mandate” anymore, she says.

The Conservation Authorities Act is currently under review, though in the very preliminary stages, and Gavine says this move seems pre-emptive of legislation changes not yet set out.

Listen below for a full discussion on the situation:

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