Posted: March 31, 2020
“Saugeen Conservation has received this Minister’s Direction empowering us to revise our Administrative Bylaw, by calling a Special Meeting of the Board of Directors of the Authority, thereby enabling us to conduct our meetings electronically. This comes about through the Province of Ontario having declared a State of Emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Special Meeting of the Saugeen Valley Conservation Authority will take place at 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 2nd, 2020 by electronic means (also authorized by Minister’s Direction) to make such amendments to it’s Administrative Bylaws dated October 16, 2018 as are deemed necessary for the continuance of Board governance during this time. This amendment will thereby enable the Board of Directors to subsequently reconvene immediately thereafter to conduct its scheduled April 2nd meeting.
Saugeen Conservation will explore further technological avenues in the coming days and weeks to make future meetings accessible to the public as required.
We thank you for your patience, and ask that you continue to implement the recommendations of our Health Care Professionals to safeguard your health and that of your family, friends, and neighbours.
See letter below:
Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
Office of the Minister
777 Bay Street, 5th Floor Toronto ON M7A 2J3 Tel.: 416-314-6790
March 26, 2020
TO: Conservation Authorities as listed in the attached Schedule “A”
SUBJECT: Minister’s Direction for Conservation Authorities during the COVID-19 Outbreak
As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to evolve locally and globally, I am writing to provide direction on how conservation authorities can continue operations while maintaining a safe physical distance. To ensure conservation authorities can continue to conduct meetings and hearings as necessary, we are giving conservation authorities the ability to amend their administrative by-laws to allow for virtual meetings, including by teleconference.
As such, I am issuing this Minister’s Direction (“Direction”) pursuant to subsection 19.1
(7) of the Conservation Authorities Act. This Direction applies to all conservation authorities in Ontario, listed in Schedule “A” as attached. For greater certainty, this Direction also applies to conservation authorities when meeting as a source protection authority under the Clean Water Act, 2006.
The Conservation Authorities Act requires that, “[e]very meeting held by the authority shall be open to the public, subject to such exceptions as may be specified in the by- laws of the authority.” Further, at any meeting that is held, “a quorum consists of one- half of the members appointed by the participating municipalities, except where there are fewer than six such members, in which case three such members constitute a quorum”. It has been brought to my attention that the administrative by-laws that conservation authorities have adopted pursuant to subsection 19.1 (1) of the Act may create barriers in meeting these provisions of the Act during this time of emergency, where in-person attendance may not be feasible.
The primary purpose of this Direction is to enable conservation authorities to convene a meeting electronically in order to make the necessary amendments to their by-laws to deal with emergencies. This Direction identifies the minimum areas where the by-laws should be amended, in the manner deemed appropriate by the authority, to make provision for emergency situations. However, each conservation authority, depending on their individual by-laws, may identify the need to make other necessary amendments to respond to emergencies.
Accordingly, I am directing that the conservation authority review and amend their by- laws, as applicable, to ensure they comply with the following Direction and take the other necessary steps as set out in this Direction.
If you have any questions related to this Direction, please contact: Chloe Stuart
Assistant Deputy Minister, Land and Water Division, MECP
Robinson Pl South Tower, 6th Floor 300 Water Street
Peterborough ON K9J 3C7 (705) 755-5341
To learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19, please visit www.ontario.ca/coronavirus.
Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks