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Bruce Bolin, Lake Erie North Shore Landowners Association
Conservation Authorities' Budgets

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 to do…"

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 31, 2019.

"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.

Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 January 2019 08:37:04 AM EST

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