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SVCA conducts electronic Board mtg

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.

Electronic participation, emergencies

  1. During any period where an emergency has been declared to exist, in all or part of an area over which a conservation authority has jurisdiction, under section 4 or 7.0.1
    1. of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, that may prevent members of the authority from meeting in person, the by-laws provide:
  1. That members of the authority be permitted to participate in meetings electronically, which shall include the ability of those members participating electronically to register votes.
  2. That any member of the authority who is participating electronically in a meeting may be counted in determining whether or not a quorum of members is present at any point in time during the meeting in accordance with the requirement in subsection 16 (2) of the Conservation Authorities Act.
  3. That any member of the authority can participate electronically in a meeting that is closed to the public.
  4. That any hearing or appeal that is dealt with in the by-laws can be conducted electronically with provisions for applicants and their agents to participate, if the conservation authority holds any such hearing or appeal during any period where an emergency has been declared to exist.

Meetings open to the public

  1. Conservation authorities must continue to implement best practices to make board meetings open to the public in accordance with subsection 15 (3) of the Conservation Authorities Act. Where possible, conservation authorities must provide for alternative means to allow the public to participate in any meetings electronically.

General, emergency measures

  1. If there is anything that is required to be done under the by-laws during the emergency, including the holding of an annual general meeting, that the by-laws permit postponement to a later date.

Publication of information

  1. The conservation authorities listed in Schedule “A” shall make this Direction publicly available on a website or other electronic means.
  1. In accordance with subsection 19.1 (4) of the Conservation Authorities Act, an authority shall make any by-laws that are amended in accordance with this Direction available to the public in the manner it considers appropriate.

Implementation procedure

  1. A conservation authority may hold a special meeting to amend a by-law for the purposes of implementing this Direction.
  1. Despite any provision in a by-law made under subsection 19.1 (1) of the Conservation Authorities Act, members of the authority can participate electronically in any special meeting that is required to implement this Direction.
  1. A member of the authority that is participating electronically in such a special meeting may be counted in determining whether or not a quorum of members is present at any time during the meeting.

Effective date

  1. This Direction is effective immediately. If it is in the public interest to do so, I will provide further direction or clarification, at a later date, related to the matters 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

chloe.stuart@ontario.ca

 

To learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19, please visit www.ontario.ca/coronavirus.

           Sincerely,

Jeff Yurek

Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks

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