High volume of complaints elicits new feedback program by Conservation Authority

The Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority have created a new form for people to issue complaints about environmental malfeasance. (Provided/ Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority)

The Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority has changed how they receive feedback as complaints regarding environmental malfeasance increase.

It says complaints have more than doubled over the past two years, from 145 complaints in 2019 to nearly 400 in 2021.

The conversation authority has created an online form that requires those filing a complaint to submit detailed information to understand the severity of the issue better.

"We're struggling to keep up with the volume," said Ashlea Brown, Environmental Regulations at the Conservation Authority director.

"We had to think outside the box and find a way to ensure we review every complaint and prioritize the most serious issues."

Complainants can access the form 24 hours a day and include photos of the alleged violation.

They also have access to authority regulations in greater detail.

"Animals in distress, for instance, should be directed to local animal control or the province's animal welfare line," the authority wrote in a press release issued Tuesday.

"Cutting of trees is a local municipal by-law issue. Environmental spills are the responsibility of the Ministry of Environment through the Spills Hotline.

"Providing more detail upfront is intended to help re-direct complaints to the appropriate agency, leaving more resources to address serious environmental issues such as wetland destruction and building in floodplains."

The form was first piloted in 2021, and the authority said it's helped, but many people are submitting complaints, not within their area of responsibility.

People can access the form on the authority's website.