Anyone who owns land in or around a provincially significant wetland will now have a new regulating authority.
South Nation Conservation will take over the duties after their board voted resoundingly in favour of a staff motion, tabled at the January 17 meeting.
South Dundas mayor Steven Byvelds tried, in vain, to gain enough support from his fellow board members to allow local municipalities within the conservation authority, like South Dundas, to maintain some local control over any projects happening in and around these provincially significant wetlands.
South Dundas council supported Byvelds’ efforts to maintain local control, by providing a resolution of support. However, even with that resolution, Byvelds was unable to sway any of the other board members which include representatives from the City of Ottawa, Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry, Prescott-Russell, and Leeds and Grenville.
“I emphasized that our (South Dundas) staff could do the work of looking after wetlands from a local perspective,” said Byvelds.
“It has always worked fine. I don’t understand why they want to change it,” said Donald Lewis, South Dundas manager of planning and enforcement, head of the department which has looked after regulating the wetlands here.
“I’m a bit concerned,” he said explaining that with a new authority comes a new interpretation of the regulations used to govern the land. With that new interpretation comes the potential to stymie development. South Dundas council shared his concern.
After a long, lively debate, the SNC board decided to support the staff motion to take over regulation of provincially significant wetlands in all of South Nation Conservation’s jurisdictions.
South Dundas will respect the board’s decision.
“In the end somebody has to regulate PSWs. South Dundas was just looking at a more local way of dealing with local property owners and their plans,” said Byvelds.
Any work in or around a PSW will need permission from SNC which will have permit fees and a set of rules which must be followed.
As of yet, the Morrisburg Industrial land that has the potential to be declared a provincially significant wetland, is still designated as a local wetland, so it is not yet subject to the new regulation changes.