ERCA Approves 2021 Draft Budget

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The Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) has approved its 2021 Draft Budget.

Just over $10 million is included for permit services, environmental projects, and flood mitigation initiatives.

Board Vice-Chair Kieran McKenzie says the budget will see a $3.4-million tax levy request, which works out to about $10.75 per person in Windsor-Essex.

McKenzie says that's a two per cent or 26-cent increase from 2020.

"When you look at the suite of services that are being offered by the conservation authority to the region, we think there's a tremendous amount of value that's being offered to the community through that levy," says McKenzie.

He says Essex County was under a flood advisory of some sort for 200 out of the past 365 days and has stretched ERCA to its limits.

"Coming forward with a very modest budget increase to be able to continue to deliver services at a time when lake levels are so high, just on that front I think it's a really reasonable ask for the community," he added.

McKenzie says the increase isn't just needed to keep up with environmental preservation and flood prevention.

He says environmental assessments are on the rise too.

"Right now this entire region is going through a development and construction boom," he says. "In order for that development to proceed, ERCA plays a role in many of those developments and proposals."

Changes to the Conservation Authorities Act included in Bill 229 require projects and services be identified as mandatory and non-mandatory.

McKenzie says administration has categorized several projects as a priority including completing a flood plain study, mapping significant rainfall events and restoring 125 acres of natural habitat.

The draft budget will now be presented to municipalities throughout Windsor-Essex.

Top priorities ERCA has outlined for 2021:

  • Improving business processes
  • Updating IT infrastructure and information systems
  • Completing a floodplain prioritization study
  • Addressing hazards and restoration issues related to high lake levels
  • Significant rainfall events and climate change
  • Restoring over 125 acres of natural habitat
  • Completing a significant habitat restoration and shoreline protection project on Pêche Island, in partnership with the City of Windsor.