Should Champlain Township ask to be included in the South Nation Conservation (SNC) jurisdiction? At its most recent meeting on February 12, 2018, the consensus seemed to be no – and this, because most councillors could not understand precisely what services would be provided to the township in exchange for the ultimately $57,000+ price tag per year attached to the move.
Earlier in the meeting, representatives from SNC, including The Nation Mayor Francois St-Amour, who is chairperson of the SNC board, narrated a powerpoint presentation it had prepared for council, outlining the work that SNC does in the area. Currently, 16 municipalities are part of the SNC.
Although it would be phased in over three years, the cost to become part of the South Nation Conversation seemed high to councillors, who discussed the idea after the delegation had left the meeting. The membership cost for 2018 would be $18,421, (this amounts to $5.66 per $100,000 in household assessment for 2018), then $37,600 for 2019 and finally, the full $57,500 would be the cost for 2020.

A report prepared by Champlain CAO Paula Knudsen concluded that, “Having the support of a Conservation Authority enables access to a wide range of programs and services to the benefit of the municipality and residents. It also enables the Conservation Authority to provide regulatory and professional support in areas like natural hazard mapping and approvals. Expansion would also enable the introduction of forestry and public land acquisition programs to help address some of the local concerns about the decline in forest cover and help support work with the Ottawa River, including flood management.”

SNC does review septic tank installations which take place in rural areas in Champlain Township. But beyond that, Longueuil councillor Helen MacLeod asked, “What are we getting? Isn’t the septic tank approval process self-supporting? I’m sorry, but I just don’t see what we would be getting.”
Longueuil councillor Norman Riopel agreed and said that, “During the last 20 years, we have never needed them once.”
(Riopel had earlier told the SNC delegation that he had heard several complaints about the septic tank approval process. )
Champlain Township Mayor Gary Barton said that he has heard complaints that the township was getting services from the SNC and that, unlike other municipalities, it was not paying anything to SNC.
Vankleek Hill councillor Paul Emile Duval likewise said, “I know that during the flood, they were issuing statements about the water rising by two inches every few minutes,” implying that the rising water situation was self-evident.
Riopel said that people along the river had applied for unwarranted funds for water damage (from the SNC) and they (the SNC) didn’t even go on the site to check it out. (Homeowners could apply for up to $4,000 following the spring 2017 flooding along the Ottawa River.)
That remark set off Mayor Barton, who said that rather than blaming SNC, “Those people should be reported. People think it doesn’t matter until you get caught, but it does matter,” Barton said.
West Hawkesbury councillor Gerry Miner added, “We somehow have gotten some services from them and then someone has complained, whereas the neighbouring municipalities get lots of services.” Saying he could understand those municipalities’ point of view, Miner said, “Maybe they are trying to get an extra guy to pay the bills. On the other hand, I can see that they feel we are getting services that other people are paying for.”

Knudsen included a long list of services provided by the SNC (information is also available on the SNC website)

Knudsen’s report outlined that SNC offers a Low Water Response and a Flood Forecasting and Warning
Program that provides notices, training, and response support to municipalities.
The Alfred and Plantagenet expansion (2014) permitted SNC to expand its program to include the Ottawa River, which helped provide warnings and condition forecasts during the 2017 flood event.
Membership would permit SNC to expand these programs to provide updated information on the Ottawa River within the municipality.
A request has been made by the United Counties of Prescott and Russell (UCPR) to the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry for funding support to complete a floodplain mapping study for the Ottawa River.
Should funding support from the federal and provincial government be obtained, UCPR will likely contract SNC to complete the new natural hazard mapping.
Membership would permit SNC to complete the floodplain study work within the municipality and review future planning applications to ensure that they are compliant with new flood risk information.
You can view the SNC powerpoint presentation, which is part of the Champlain Township February 13 agenda package, by visiting www.champlain.ca.