In the late 1930s and early 1940s, many areas of Ontario were realizing that they had serious land use problems.

Poor land use practices and lack of understanding of the inter-relationships among our natural resources were cited as causes. Water quality and quantity were major concerns. Fluctuations in water supply and poor water quality were evident in urban and rural areas of the Province.

Snowmelt and spring rains caused flooding problems in some communities, resulting in property damage and the loss of lives, especially within the flood plains of creeks and rivers. Other water problems resulted in periods of summer drought.

Inappropriate farming practices and lumbering caused changes in water levels and increased soil erosion in some areas. This affected not only the local fish and wildlife population, but all watershed residents.

In response to these problems, and the need to plan for post-war construction, a group of individuals representing government, universities and the private sector came together in 1941 at what has become known as the Guelph Conference. This group recommended, to the government, a course of action to meet the conservation and resources management needs of the province.

As a result of the Conference, the Province of Ontario, in cooperation with the federal government, initiated a comprehensive survey of the conservation problems in the Ganaraska watershed. The recommendations of this report, completed in 1943, led directly to the passage of the Conservation Authorities Act of Ontario, in the spring of 1946. The passage of the Act signaled a new approach to conservation and resource management, by embodying three basic principles:

  • the watershed as a management unit
  • local initiative and involvement
  • municipal-provincial partnership.

The Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority was formed, at the request of our member municipalities, in December 1964 by order-in-council. We are one of 36 conservation authorities operating in Ontario today.