(North Bay, April 29, 2019) The North Bay-Mattawa Conservation Authority (NBMCA) is deferring programs and may cancel some initiatives as a result of a $125,000 cut in its natural hazard transfer payment from the Ontario government.
Watershed planning, flood control, flood forecasting and erosion control initiatives are funded by the provincial natural hazard transfer payment as well as NBMCA’s 10 member municipalities.
“The flood forecasting and flood control initiatives we deliver are important to the people of the watershed. This spring’s flooding is the perfect example of why these programs are essential,” said Brian Tayler, CAO.
NBMCA has cut its budget in these program areas, but to help maintain some of the essential natural hazard services, NBMCA is covering a portion of the reduction through cuts to other program areas.
“We had to put one flood risk assessment study on hold. We have also cutback and deferred other program expenditures such as the replacement of infrastructure in conservation areas,” added Tayler.
NBMCA was notified of the funding cut on April 12 by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, which administers the natural hazard funding to conservation authorities, the day after the provincial budget was presented in the legislature.
“There was no consultation, no notice of the funding cut. We approved our budget in March and included the $258,539 transfer payment we had received for the past 20 plus years. We have deferred some projects to manage the loss this year, however the reduced funding creates a longer term problem that will have to be addressed for future programs and services,” said Chris Mayne, NBMCA Chair.
“It seems a contradiction that the government’s “Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan” identifies one of the core mandates of conservation authorities to be the protection of people, property and natural resources from the threats and impacts of extreme weather and flooding then cuts their transfer payment to us by 50 per cent,” added Mayne.
NBMCA does this work, in part, on behalf of its member municipalities. NBMCA’s 10 member municipalities include Bonfield, Callander, Calvin Twp, Chisholm Twp, East Ferris, Mattawa, Mattawan Twp, North Bay, Papineau-Cameron Twp, and Powassan.
“NBMCA and our member municipalities have relied on this funding to deliver these essential flood management programs throughout our 2,900 sq km watershed,” added Tayler.
Across Ontario, conservation authorities forecast flooding, issue flood watches and warnings, monitor stream flows, regulate development activities in flood plains, provide advice to municipalities, develop watershed plans and educate the public about flooding and protecting natural cover that helps reduce the impacts of flooding.
Conservation authorities’ programs, services and flood control structures prevent more than $100million a year in flood damage, according to Conservation Ontario, the organization which represents Ontario’s 36 conservation authorities. NBMCA operates a backflood control structure on Parks Creek in North Bay which protects people and along Parks Creek from the back flow of water in Lake Nipissing when the lake’s water level rises to a flood level.
A number of NBMCA program areas which rely on other funding sources including other government funding, user fees, or grants will not be affected specifically the Regulations Program, On-site Sewage System Program and Drinking Water Source Protection.
The North Bay-Mattawa Conservation Authority was founded in 1972 by the Province of Ontario and its 10 member municipalities. A non-profit organization, the NBMCA works closely with the public to balance human needs with environmental needs throughout the region’s watershed. The NBMCA is one of 36 Conservation Authorities who are members of Conservation Ontario.
Chris Mayne, NBMCA Board Chair
Brian Tayler, NBMCA CAO
Sue Buckle, Manager, Communications & Outreach