‘It puts the public’s lives at risk’: Environmental leaders speak out over conservation changes

The provincial government is pledging $30-million to Ducks Unlimited to help conserve and restore 2,700 acres of wetlands.

It’s the kind of announcement environmental groups would typically celebrate, but not today.

It came hours before the Ford government prepared its COVID-19 recovery bill for its third reading in the legislature. The omnibus bill contains significant changes to the Conservation Act and the Crown Forest Sustainability Act.

Dozens of environmental groups, conservation authorities and municipalities have urged the government to withdraw sections of Bill 229.

Over the weekend, seven members of Ontario’s Greenbelt Council resigned in protest, including chair David Crombie.

Margaret Prophet with the Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition understands the exodus and says de-regulation has been a problem.

“People working on committees in government like David Crombie, the conservation authorities that are there with your tax dollars to protect your water, have had enough,” Prophet says. “They’re scared about the future”

The Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority also sounds the alarm

“It puts infrastructure at risk,” says CAO Doug Hevenor. “It puts the environment at risk, and it puts the public’s lives at risk. That’s what it’s about.