Province tells municipalities to do more with less, yet Area conservation authorities' spending is going unchecked
Dexter, ON (Monday, Jan 21, 2019) - The Lake Erie North Shore Landowners Association
(LENSLA) today called on municipal councillors and the province to demand greater
financial accountability from area conservation authorities.
LENSLA, counts members across the watersheds managed by Catfish Creek Conservation
Authority, Kettle Creek Conservation Authority, Long Point Region Conservation Authority,
and Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority all of which have portions of Elgin
County under their jurisdiction.
The organization is calling on the Ontario Government to compel conservation authorities
to restrain their spending in the same manner as municipalities.
In a letter dated December 21, 2018 and sent to every municipality in Ontario, Finance
Minister Vic Fedeli wrote: "we will be looking to you, our municipal partners, to
help us with the challenge that lies ahead - as we look to drive efficiencies and
value-for-money…, While we all will be operating within a smaller funding envelope,
we want to work with you to return the program [Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund
- funding the provinces gives to municipalities] to what it was initially intended
Meanwhile, the four conservation authorities in our area have announced substantial
budget increases well above the 2.0% rate of inflation*. Conservation authorities
can levy funds from their municipalities, which in turn have no choice, by Ontario
law, but to pay them regardless of affordability.
For example, the Kettle Creek Conservation Authority has increased its municipal
levies by 7% for each of the past two years and proposes the same for 2019. All
four of these conservation authorities routinely increase their annual municipal
levies well above the inflation rates.
"Local conservation authorities believe they can tax and spend no matter the realities
and challenges facing the municipalities they serve," said LENSLA President and
Central Elgin resident Kyle Cronk. "We have municipalities being told they have
to do better with what they already have or with less. Why wouldn't any other public
agency show support and follow suit? This seems to show a pattern of disrespect
for local ratepayers by these conservation authorities as they fund programs they
are not required to offer but do without any accountability."
All four conservation authorities will have passed their proposed budgets by March
"Conservation authorities need to return to their original mandate. We hope the
province agrees in the same funding discipline for all public agencies including
conservation authorities," Cronk concluded.
*Statistics Canada as of 21 January 2019. Latest figure, December 2018.
Table 18-10-0004-01 Consumer Price Index, monthly, not seasonally adjusted
About the Lake Erie North Shore Landowners Association
The Lake Erie North Shore Landowners Association (LENSLA) was founded on January
6th, 2016. It is an association representing landowners on or near Elgin County's
northern Lake Erie shoreline. LENSLA boasts local agri-producers, professionals,
academics, and retirees among its diverse membership of landowners whose combined
property valuations are estimated at $34 million dollars. The association meets
quarterly and conducts regular advocacy and representations before local interests
on a regular basis.