TBM and Gray Highlands remain with Gray Sauble CA

Both the City of The Blue Mountains and the Gray Highlands community plan to continue their existing relationship with the Gray Sauble Conservation Authority.

The agency’s CAO, Tim Lanthier, visited both councils on March 14 and 15 to present how recent provincial government changes are affecting the local agency. Lanthier explained that provincial legislation has changed the relationship between local communities and the conservation agency.

The province has mandated that all conservation agencies provide certain core programs and services, funded largely through levies billed to member communities. For programs that fall outside of this core mandate, the conservation agency must enter into formal agreements with its member communities to continue providing these services.

Lanthier’s full presentation on the changes can be found here.

Lanthier called the changing relationship between conservation agencies and local communities “a very big change”.

He explained that the Gray Sauble Conservation Authority’s non-mandatory programs cost $78,000 a year — just 2 percent of the total budget. This includes some agency communications, some stewardship and some watershed monitoring.

Lanthier is aiming to reach agreements with the agency’s member municipalities before the end of the year in order to be ready for the 2024 budget cycle.

“We want to reach agreements in time for the 2024 budget. We want to continue the important environmental work we are doing today at the same cost,” he said.

Both Gray Highlands Council and Blue Mountains Council passed resolutions directing city staff to work with the agency on the necessary arrangements for services to continue.

Gray Highlands Deputy Mayor Dane Nielsen asked Lanthier if he expected any problems from other member communities. Nielsen noted that the provincial conservation agency strategy “sort of plays communities against each other.”

“Are there any challenges getting buy-in in general?” asked Nilsen.

Lanthier said this has been a problem for Gray Sauble so far.

“So far I’m happy to say that we’re seeing support from local communities,” he said. “We see the value being recognized.”

Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca

Source : ca.sports.yahoo.com

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