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Business Leader Summer 2018
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GRCA board of directors approve $34 million budget

CAMBRIDGE - The Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) will spend more than $34 million this year on programs that protect water quality, reduce flood damages, protect natural areas, support responsible development and provide outdoor recreation and environmental education.

The budget was approved by the GRCA board on Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. The board is made up of 26 members appointed by the municipalities in the Grand River watershed.

Municipalities will contribute about $11.3 million in general municipal levy to the GRCA this year, about 33 per cent of the total budget. The municipal levy portion is up 2.5 per cent this year, which works out to approximately $10.72 per watershed resident.

Government grants totalling just over $4.9 million represent about 15 per cent of the budget. This includes $800,000 from municipalities towards the Rural Water Quality program. The remainder is primarily provincial grants, which include funding of over $1.5 million for the Source Protection Program.

Finally, the GRCA generates more than $15.3 million or 44 per cent of its own revenue through revenue sources such as camping fees, park admissions, nature centre programs, hydro sales, property rentals, tree sales, planning permits, and donations raised by the Grand River Conservation Foundation (GRCF).

Municipal levy

The municipal levy portion of the budget is calculated using the “Modified Current Value Assessment” under Regulation 670/00 of the Conservation Authorities Act. Due to the Dec. 21, 2017 decision of the Mining and Lands Commissioner, the 2018 levy apportionment does not include an adjustment for the City of Hamilton, which had been made to the levy apportionment since 2001. As a result, Hamilton’s share of the total levy has increased from 2.4 per cent to 12.6 per cent and the amount apportioned to all other participating municipalities has decreased by an equivalent amount. Further information about this change is outlined in the Jan. 26, 2018 board report, Budget 2018 – General Levy Apportionment Update. The City of Hamilton has advised the GRCA that it has requested a Judicial Review of the Mining and Lands Commissioner’s decision. Currently, it is not known whether that request will be granted and if there is potential for adjustments to the 2018 levy apportionment.

Budget highlights include:

- Drinking Water Source Protection Plan: The GRCA continues to work on the development 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. All four Source Protection Plans are approved and in effect. In addition to supporting municipalities and other agencies in implementing the plans, the GRCA’s focus in 2018 is on updates to the Grand River Source Protection Plan, including water quantity risk assessment studies, development of water quantity policies, updating water quality vulnerability assessments, and the development of an annual progress reporting framework;

- Water Management Plan: The Water Management Plan was endorsed in 2014 as an update to the 1982 Grand River Basin Study that charts a course of actions to reduce flood damages, ensure water supplies, improve water quality and build resilience to deal with climate change. Municipal, provincial and federal government and Six Nations water managers meet quarterly to report on the progress of the commitments in the plan. Annual progress reporting is projected through to 2019. Technical work has started in 2018 on a state of the water resources report, which is planned to be completed in 2019;

- Emerald Ash Borer: During 2018, the GRCA will continue to address the impacts of Emerald Ash Borer on GRCA lands and will continue to seek financial resources to manage this infestation. About $400,000 will be spent this year responding to damage caused by the invasive insect. Most of the money will go to remove hazardous trees in the areas where the infestation is the highest;

- Rural Water Quality Program: $800,000 is expected to be available to farmers to help them undertake projects to protect water quality on their land including tree planting, erection of fences along water courses, construction of manure storage tanks and other projects. The money comes from municipalities within the Grand River watershed, while the GRCA manages the program;

- Grand River Parks: The GRCA operates 11 active parks in the Grand River watershed, offering a wide array of activities including camping, fishing, swimming, hiking and skiing. These parks are user-supported through gate admission, equipment rental fees, and camping revenues and receive no tax dollars to support their operation. Following three very successful operating seasons, the parks will continue to focus on infrastructure reinvestment in 2018. This reinvestment will primarily focus on projects that will enhance the visitor experience including improved washroom facilities, playgrounds and access control gates at park entrances; and

- Water Control Structures: Major water control capital projects planned for 2018 include upgrades to backup generators and fuel systems at Guelph and Woolwich dams, refurbishment of the gates at Woolwich Dam, a gate failure modes analysis of the Conestogo Dam gates, installation of new stoplog gains and stoplogs at Caledonia Dam, and continued maintenance of portions of the Brantford, Bridgeport, Cambridge and New Hamburg dikes. Design of the repair of a portion of the Cambridge riverwall is being coordinated with a City of Cambridge project to build a river level walkway at the base of the floodwall.

March 9, 2018

 
 

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