The Glengarry News

Cooper Marsh controversy

RRCA splits with Conservators

publisher Jul 16, 2021 - 1:21pm

“Due to the Cooper Marsh Conservators’ (CMC) recent change in focus, the Raisin Region Conservation Authority (RRCA) Board of Directors has decided to terminate its relationship with the volunteer group. This RRCA did not make this decision lightly and deeply regrets that it cannot continue to work with CMC.”

The statement was issued after the Conservators protested against the RRCA's decision to not object to a proposal to set up a campground near Cooper Marsh.

"Any future plans for a campground are still subject to review and approvals. The RRCA will continue to review and provide input on any future development proposals on land adjacent to the wetland," the conservation authority says.

“For context, CMC has assisted the RRCA with fundraising, educational and recreational activities at the Cooper Marsh Conservation Area and Visitors Centre since 1997. The RRCA sincerely appreciates the CMC’s numerous contributions over the years that have greatly enhanced Cooper Marsh,” says the authority.

“Over the last several months, CMC has been involved in political activities which are inconsistent with the RRCA’s statutory mandate. In general, no conservation authority in Ontario may, directly or indirectly, engage in political activities regarding development projects. The RRCA’s role in development projects that fall within its jurisdiction is circumscribed by the Conservation Authorities Act. Any departure from this clearly defined statutory role exposes the RRCA to legal jeopardy and negatively impacts its ability to deliver programs and services that further the conservation, restoration, development, and management of natural resources in watersheds in Ontario,” the RRCA statement continues.

“Starting in late 2020, the RRCA and the CMC have worked behind the scenes to try and save their important relationship. The RRCA has gone to great lengths to explain to CMC that it cannot be affiliated with a group focused on political opposition to local development projects. Unfortunately, CMC’s focus has remained political in nature. This focus has made continued collaboration impossible. With great regret, as of July 16, 2021, the RRCA has elected to terminate its relationship with the CMC. The RRCA is no longer affiliated with the group in any capacity.”

“Since the 1980s, the RRCA has owned and protected the land now known as Cooper Marsh Conservation Area. The RRCA will continue to conserve, manage, and enhance the treasured local natural heritage and maintain the trail system for the community to explore.”

The group has planned a 1 p.m. July 19 protest at the South Glengarry Township office.

More coverage in the July 21 edition of The News.