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Conservation authority approves $37M budget

Municipalities face increase of 2.5 per cent
Shade’s Mills Conservation Area entrance on Avenue Road in Cambridge

The Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) will invest just over $37 million this year on programs that protect life and minimize property damage from flooding and erosion, improve the health of the Grand River watershed, connect people to the environment through outdoor experiences and manage its land holdings responsibly and sustainably.

The GRCA board approved the budget on Friday, Feb. 23. The board is made up of 26 members appointed by the municipalities in the Grand River watershed.

Municipalities will contribute about $13.3 million in municipal apportionment to the GRCA in 2024; or about 36 per cent of the GRCA’s total budget. The municipal apportionment is increasing by 2.5 per cent. The municipal apportionment is allocated to each member municipality using the “Modified Current Value Assessment” as outlined under Regulation 670/00 of the Conservation Authorities Act.

Other federal, provincial and municipal government grants totalling just under $3.4 million represent nine per cent of the budget.

In 2024, the GRCA expects to generate about 49 per cent of its own revenue through sources such as camping fees, conservation area admissions, outdoor environmental education programs, hydro sales from some dams, property rentals, tree sales, planning permits and donations raised by the Grand River Conservation Foundation (GRCF). Finally, six per cent of the total budget in 2024 will come from GRCA reserves.

“This is the first year that the GRCA is implementing the new budget framework resulting from amendments to the Conservation Authorities Act that have occurred over the past several years,” says GRCA Chair Chris White. “While the format has changed, the budget continues to focus on responsible delivery of our programs and services and supports our strategic priorities and shared vision of a healthy watershed.”

Some specific highlights of the 2024 budget include:

Major Maintenance on Water Management Infrastructure and Conservation Areas

In 2024, the GRCA’s budget for water management includes expenditures for the upgrade and maintenance of water monitoring and gauge equipment for water quality and flood forecasting and warning programs, as well as major maintenance and repairs to dams and dikes. Conservation area spending includes expenditures as part of the regular maintenance program, as well as the replacement of a bridge at Rockwood Conservation Area, adding new washrooms at Byng Island Conservation Area, septic system replacements and road repairs at various conservation areas.

Drinking Water Source Protection Plan

The GRCA continues to work on the updates and implementation of a Drinking Water Source Protection Plan for each of the four watersheds in the Lake Erie Source Protection Region, including the Grand River watershed, as part of the provincial Source Protection Program under the Clean Water Act, 2006. In addition to supporting municipalities and other agencies in implementing the plans and completing annual progress reports, the focus in 2024 continues to be completing updates to the Grand River Source Protection Plan, including the development of water quantity policies, and updating water quality vulnerability assessments.

Full details of the GRCA 2024 Budget are provided in the February 23, 2024 board report.