During the regular meeting on February 22, the United Counties of Prescott and Russell (UCPR) council received a report from the planning and forestry department regarding Bill 23. Following the Ontario government’s adoption of Bill 23, watershed agencies such as South Nation Conservation Authority (SNC) have a much-diminished role within municipalities. The legislation prevents the SNC from providing services related to the review of various studies, such as hydrogeological, terrain analysis studies, and environmental impact assessments. These studies are necessary when someone, whether a private landowner or a developer, wants to do any type of construction.
The UCPR’s planning and forestry department must now fill this gap in managing the review of these studies and the approval of construction projects, as the department does not have the appropriate resources to do so itself. The department report recommends that the UCPR temporarily hire the same consulting firm that the SNC uses, to give its own planning department time to prepare a tender process in accordance with current procurement policy.
The report recommended that council approve hiring the consulting firm GRI Inc. for a period of six months, authorize a new unidentified expenditure in the 2023 budget of $50,000 which will be fully recovered, and authorize staff to prepare a competitive bidding process for the hiring of qualified consulting firms to conduct reviews in future of any hydrogeological and terrain analysis studies.
Council approved the recommendation.