Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority
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History of Conservation Authorities

The Conservation Authorities Act, which was passed in 1946, laid the groundwork for the implementation of watershed management in Ontario. The concept of Conservation Authorities was based on three fundamental principles: cost sharing between municipal and provincial governments; local initiative (Authorities would be formed only when municipalities petitioned the province); and watershed-wide planning.

Although conservation may seem like a vital part of life today, the need was not always recognized. By 1954, 20 conservation authorities had been formed. Then came the fury of Hurricane Hazel.

Hurricane Hazel devastated southern Ontario overnight on October 15, 1954 killing 81 people and causing $20 million dollars in damage. Today, watershed management programs undertaken by Conservation Authorities have virtually eliminated catastrophic flooding in Ontario.

The province’s 36 Conservation Authorities are regarded as world leaders in conservation, environmental protection, and flood control. Together Authorities own more than 121,000 hectares of land, including areas in the Oak Ridges Moraine, Carolinian forest, wetlands and important fish and wildlife habitat.


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