There was a time when the Conservation Authorities understood that their primary function was to help farmers in dealing with the issues of erosion, drought and flood. Those were the good ol' days. Today, the same Conservation Authorities have claimed jurisdiction over many areas, including any property on a watercourse, a so called wetland or floodplain. And not for the purpose of aiding the landowner. In fact, they often oversee the permit process on these properties and arbitrarily withhold permissions. But where in the Conservation Act does it say that the Conservation Authorities have the right or the responsibility to issue permits? It's not there!
Conservation Authorities have an enforcement division. And the enforcers claim they have the right to enter onto private property at will. Some wear bullet proof vests and carry what appear to be weapons of some sort on their belts. They intimidate private property owners and while on the same private property, investigate the activities that are taking place using photography, taking licence plate numbers, names etc. But that's just the beginning.
Once the investigation is complete, the enforcer may leave the property and wait 2 years less a day before returning armed with a list of infractions, each potentially carrying a ten thousand dollar fine. And get this, the fines may be issued to each person on the property title. So a property held by a husband and wife may draw double financial penalties for each infraction.
Why would they investigate and then leave and not be heard from for 2 years less a day? Best guess, they wait for your statute of limitations to run out, guaranteeing that you won't be able to take an action against them for trespass, mischief, harassment etc. and they can proceed to court with illegally acquired evidence, about which you have little recourse.
Various staff at the Conservation Authority like to quote Section 28 of the Act, implying that they have full and unfettered access to private property if they so much as suspect an activity is taking place that they have not authorized. They don't like to discuss Section 21 of the Act, which says that Section 28 applies to their OBJECTS. It's important to know that their objects are 1) the land that they own and 2) the land on which they have made an agreement with the owner(s).
Regardless of what they claim, the Conservation Authority for the most part has no right, title or interest in your property. But when law biding, land loving citizens are confronted by an official looking enforcement person from the local Conservation Authority, they assume he must have the right to do what he's doing. And because the various parties currently under assault by conservation are kept in the dark about others in the same circumstance, they don't develop the strength that numbers plus knowledge would allow.
If you have had an unwarranted, unusual, offensive or otherwise uncomfortable run in with conservation, please contact me. Let's get the facts together on all of their activities and see if what they are doing is A) legal and B) necessary. It just might be time to say goodbye to the Conservation Authorities altogether!