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REMOVE RED TAPE BARRIERS: FLOOD EXPERT TEAM PILOT DISCUSSION & MAR. 15, 2020 MEETING MINUTES

In Attendance: Lynn Mitchell, Robert Hunt, Chris Frazer, and Dave Dingle, Regrets from Charlene  Rivais)

After discussion at our Historic Murray Canal District meeting on Sunday afternoon, our group has decided to defer further action on our LTRCA Board motion. The current realities of CA funding, the minimum 30 day delay in the Board decision-making process and the subsequent lengthy procurement process after a positive decision, means several months delay at minimum in getting this established.

We had hoped the urgency of the situation would have led to expedited consideration of our ask beyond what seems possible to achieve. It is clear the motion will not shorten the interval to permit approval for anyone this Spring, and we should immediately all focus on working with existing processes to best effect. 

We believe the motion is critically important and will continue to pursue it in the longer term unless better alternatives arise. The pace of the high lake-level crisis has clearly exceeded the speed of established CA processes to mitigate it. The overlay of other world events makes this ever more critical.

In short, the need is only escalating for expedited intervals for permits with lower overall costs and minimal or no coastal engineering reports unless absolutely needed in the face of frequent 100-year flood events and the elevated risks they bring to human health and safety.

We therefore advise our members to individually approach their Conservation Authorities for emergency expedited permitting requests. We respectfully request the Conservation Authorities  immediately commence (rather than waiting for the flood emergency to get worse) issuing emergency permits to allow elevated material amounts to be placed without requiring a coastal engineering study in as many cases as possible where this would be appropriate.

If any questions or comments, please let us know by replying to this email. Many thanks for your kind support.

Sincerely,
Dave Dingle
Chair, HMCD
 
Historic Murray Canal DistrictOur Motion As Presented Last NightOur Historic Murray Canal District group is advocating for eliminating red tape & delays in getting Conservation Authority shoreline work permits in the face of potential catastrophic Spring floods.  
 
We respect the work and people of the Conservation Authorities. It’s clear, many residents have worked well with Conservation Authority staff over the years. But these are not normal times. Two 100-year flood events in the last three years and a third coming this year are placing incredible strain on customary Conservation Authority processes. While both CA’s have a mission to “create a healthy, environmentally diverse watershed that improves the quality of life for residents”, we urgently need to get a quicker, more responsive performance. In short, the pace of this crisis has exceeded the speed of established CA processes to mitigate it.
 
That’s why we’re here with this proposed Motion with budgeted costs, for a flood mitigation expert team. Our group is about 200 strong and growing rapidly. We’ve researched this issue extensively with two prominent engineering firms, Conservation Authority CAO’s, MPP’s, Mayors and Councillors. We’ve also attracted over 500 signatures on our online petition to our Provincial MPP’s to remove red tape and delays in getting Conservation Authority approvals. We’re here tonight with an urgent, emergency request in the form of a Motion to encourage the maximum number of concurrent permit applications with an objective of minimising Coastal Engineering studies unless absolutely needed in order to expedite permitting. 
 
We respectfully ask that a statement of direction in response to this Motion, at least, be issued by each CA, within the next seven days. We ask that the Motion be approved, or an equal or more effective Motion be adopted at the earliest moment allowable. Our group stands ready to assist in any appropriate fashion, and has a number of applicants ready to participate. The Motion reads as follows:
 
Flood Mitigation/Expert Team Motion
 
That the each of the Lower Trent Conservation Authority and the Quinte Conservation Authority immediately establish a Pilot Project for an Expedited Flood Mitigation Property Owner Permit Process to accommodate an initial group of at least 40 (or more) concurrent flood mitigation-related permit requests, only, for each Conservation AuthorityConcurrent requests should be taken to include applicants who already have a permit application underway, or a permit in hand that requires a Coastal Engineering study to be completed. This permitting process will be supported by an internal Conservation Authority flood mitigation expert/team acting in an ‘Applicant Advocate Role’.  This team would be mandated to act as a property owner’s advocate and would create, for the property owner’s permit application, a review of planning considerations including applying new Shoreline Management Plan data, including a non-binding recommendation to the Conservation Authority, when appropriate, given elevated flood, health and safety risks along with any other mitigating factors, to issue a permit without requiring a Coastal Engineering study, or possibly only to require an engineering Letter of Opinion. 
 
By approval of this Motion, each Conservation Authority will apply, as first priority, any surplus budget funds on hand, or obtain additional monies from their funding municipalities of at least $40,000.
 
This Motion is based on budget assumptions as follows:
If this is done efficiently, then maybe it would be a site visit and then a letter outlining the issue and thought process behind the opinion.  For a senior engineer we are in the range of $200/hr and perhaps this takes three hours per site (one hour for the site visit and two hours to write it up).  Of course sites and issues will vary and clustering of sites and similar or unique issue will affect this.  So this might be a total of $600 to $800 per property.  There would also be some travel expenses so aligning these in time and doing as many as possible in a day would be the best approach to control costs.  I could also see that it might make sense to also provide a summary report at the conclusion of this that summarized the results of the pilot project and how it could be implemented in the future. The combined value of $80,000 across the two CA’s might allow us to look at 80 properties, across the two CA’s or more, again, depending on the efficiency of the process.
 
Perhaps this would be funded in part by the CA and in part by the proponent.  By doing so, the number of properties included could be increased to approximately 160 across the two Conservation Authority areas. Perhaps, if the site visit suggested a full Coastal Engineering study was required, then no writeup would be provided and the property owner would not need to pay.