Finding operational efficiencies is what it’s all about with our new Human Resource Information System, integrating attendance, payroll, budget and performance management. With the new system, launched at year-end, we’re saving staff time, cutting back on paper use, expediting approvals and improving organizational efficiency.
Acres of Opportunity
This year we completed our Natural Heritage System Land Securement Project, 2019 – 2025. The report outlines land securement opportunity areas until 2025. Based on an analysis of our ecological protection and restoration/enhancement opportunities, we’ve set a goal of securing an additional 250 – 300 hectares of ecologically protected land by 2025. We currently own, manage or hold easements on over 2,425 hectares of conservation land across the watershed, so this goal represents a 10 percent increase in holdings.
Municipal Act Changes
Changes to Bill 68, passed by the Province in 2017, clarify the roles of conservation authorities and municipalities regarding the issue of illegal fill activities in regulated areas. Bill 68 gives municipalities additional jurisdiction on these lands, as long as they amend their site alteration by-laws.
While conservation authorities still have jurisdiction for illegal fill activities in regulated areas, this legislation ensures we can work better together, as partners, to address issues of illegal dumping. It also means that municipalities can take advantage of their more powerful tools, like stop-work orders, to address illegal activities in a timelier manner, in all areas within their municipality, including regulated areas.
This year, we’ve been working with our municipal partners on establishing “Memoranda of Understanding” agreements for working together in these areas.
Engaging our Audiences
We continue to reach out to new audiences using novel approaches. This year we focused on highlighting some of our researchers and scientists, including our Lake Doctor, Dr. Brian Ginn, and Ecology Ray, our resident bug expert, through a series of Facebook Live events and short videos.
All three of our primary social media channels saw strong growth this year. Between 2018 and 2019, our Twitter following increased by 9%, Facebook increased by 35% and Instagram grew by 43%.
Right Message, Right Time
Our media relations program encourages media coverage for messages that are important to our audiences. We’ve had great success this year with numerous front page/leading stories, as a result of interesting, relevant and well-timed news releases. Just one of many examples; on May 7, in the wake of recent flooding across the country, we issued the release “It never rains, it pours”, resulting in front page coverage in the May 23 edition of the Barrie Advance. The story provided sound advice for residents – to help prepare them for the impacts of climate change. The release also prompted the media to include messaging from the City of Barrie on its efforts to combat climate change.
Budget Big Picture
Our newly updated
Budget Companion Document has been of tremendous value to our partners, the Province and even other conservation authorities, who plan on modelling our document. The 40-page companion supports discussions with our municipal partners and provides simple, understandable information about our sources of revenue, how our budget is allocated, what our goals and objectives are both for the future year and coming years, and what’s been achieved. This is just one of the ways we demonstrate our transparency and accountability to our partners.
Harnessing our Holdings
In 2019, LSRCA leveraged $45,000 in funding from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to complete building condition assessments at Mabel Davis, Scanlon Creek and Sheppard’s Bush. Using the expertise of our consultants, we’ll be able to complete a financial strategy in 2020 to ensure we have enough money to maintain and replace these assets over the next 25 years.
Happy to Help
In response to the focus Bill 108 has placed on conservation
authority customer service, Conservation Ontario organized
standard customer service training for all conservation
authority planning, development and regulations staff. A
total of 24 staff members from LSRCA took part in this training
which focused on communications (verbal and written), time
management, task management and prioritization.