Environmental Planning and Permit Fee Update
Grey Sauble Conservation Authority (GSCA) was established by an Order-in-Council on January 1, 1985, following the amalgamation of the North Grey Region and the Sauble Valley Conservation Authorities. The North Grey Region and Sauble Valley Conservation Authorities were established under the Conservation Authorities Act in 1957 and 1958, respectively.
Conservation authorities are local public sector organizations similar to public health units, hospitals, libraries or schools. We are one of 36 conservation authorities in Ontario. We are governed by an 11-member board of directors, appointed by eight member municipalities.
GSCA is a local watershed management charitable organization dedicated to conserving, restoring and managing the natural ecosystems in the Grey Sauble watershed area.
Our mission is to promote and undertake sustainable management of renewable natural resources and to provide responsible leadership to enhance biodiversity and environmental awareness, in partnership with our watershed stakeholders.
By working together with the people and organizations in our community, we’re able to help to protect people and property from natural hazards like flooding and erosion and address specific environmental challenges we face locally.
PLANNING AND PERMITTING SERVICE COSTS
GSCA has the ability to collect fees for service under the Conservation Authorities Act and in line with the Minister’s list of classes of programs and services in respect of which conservation authorities may charge a fee.
The delivery of services by GSCA is generally expected to be undertaken while maintaining municipal funding increases to a minimum. GSCA offers a wide range of services and programs for which user fees are charged in order to recover the costs of providing those programs and services and thereby reduce or limit the impacts of service provision on the general tax base.
The delivery of planning and permitting services is funded in a small part by the Province through annual operating grants, by municipalities through annual municipal funding, and by user fees paid by applicants. Planning services includes plan input and plan review of applications made under the Planning Act.
Plan input includes the review of policies and long-range plans generated by municipalities. GSCA staff participate in municipal planning processes and provide comments that relate to our regulatory and advisory roles. The cost of this municipal plan input services is covered by the municipal levy and provincial operating grants where comments are provided which pertain to provincial interest under Section 3.0 of the Provincial Policy Statement.
Plan review includes the review of planning applications under the Planning Act that are initiated by private individuals, companies or corporations. The Planning Act allows for these costs to be recovered through fees for service according to the user pays principle.
GSCA also administers Ontario Regulation 151/06 – Development, Interference with Wetlands and Alterations to Shorelines and Watercourses Regulation on a fee-for-service basis according to the user pays principle.
Although user-fees should be designed to cover 100% of the cost of providing these services, GSCA’s current fee structure does not effectively include the full cost of service provision.
In 2021, GSCA engaged Watson & Associates Economists Ltd. to undertake a program rates and fee review for planning and permitting services offered by the GSCA. The primary objectives of this review were to assess the full cost of providing plan review and permitting services and the adequacy of current GSCA fees to recover the costs of service.
On December 21, 2022 the GSCA Board of Directors approved a new fee schedule effective immediately. The fee structure, seeks to align the recovery of processing costs to application/permit characteristics to recover the full costs of service while balancing Planning Act compliance, applicant benefits and affordability, and revenue stability. GSCA’s current fee structure has been generally maintained within the proposed fee structures, however changes have been made to differentiate between scale of applications under the Planning Act. Also, proposed plan review and permitting fees have been designed below full cost recovery levels where full cost recovery fees would be beyond the range of the fees imposed by comparator conservation authorities.
RATES & FEE REVIEW REPORT & FEEDBACK
This report was presented to the GSCA Board of Directors on April 28, 2022. The Board of Directors has approved moving forward with consultation on the proposed fee schedule.
GSCA sought general input and comments until August 15, 2022. GSCA also solicited specific comments from certain groups over this time period.