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Conservation Authorities Act - Section 28 Regulations

Streamlining Planning and Regulations
Conservation Ontario worked with a provincially lead, multi-stakeholder Committee including representatives from the municipal, development/building and environment sectors in the development of the Policies and Procedures for Conservation Authority Plan Review and Permitting Activities (MNR, 2010). This provincially approved document confirms and clarifies the roles of Conservation Authorities, and identifies key requirements for good client service.

Report: Policies and Procedures for Conservation Authority Plan Review and Permitting Activities [Ministry of Natural Resources, 2010)

Drainage Act and Conservation Authorities Act Protocol
Working as part of a multi-stakeholder Drainage Act & Section 28 Regulations Team (DART), co-chaired by the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Conservation Authorities, in partnership with representatives from the drainage sector, agricultural sector, and municipalities have completed a new protocol for drain maintenance and repair activities. The purpose of this provincially approved document is to improve communications, promote best practices, and streamline the permitting process under the Conservation Authorities Act for municipal drain maintenance and repair work performed under the Drainage Act.

Report: Drainage Act and Conservation Authorities Act Protocol (Ontario, 2012)

Sustainable water resources, clean air, a rich mix of plants, animals and habitats and a variety of natural areas for people to appreciate and keep active are important features of healthy communities in Ontario. In order to maintain the vitality of our watersheds and also protect peoples’ lives and property from natural hazards such as flooding and erosion, Ontario’s 36 Conservation Authorities (CAs) administer the Conservation Authorities Act and its associated regulations.

The Conservation Authorities Act was created in 1946 in response to erosion and drought concerns, recognizing that these and other natural resource initiatives are best managed on a watershed basis.

History of CA Act Regulations

In 1956, in response to the severe economic and human losses associated with Hurricane Hazel (1954), amendments to the Conservation Authorities Act first empowered CAs to make Regulations to prohibit filling in floodplains. These Regulations were broadened in 1960 to prohibit or regulate the placing or dumping of fill in defined areas where, in the opinion of the CA, the control of flooding, pollution or the conservation of land may be affected. In 1968, amendments to the Conservation Authorities Act further extended the Regulations to prohibit or control construction and alteration to waterways, in addition to filling.

In 1998, the Conservation Authorities Act was amended as part of the Red Tape Reduction Act (Bill 25), to ensure that Regulations under the Act were consistent across the province and complementary to provincial policies. Revisions were made to Section 28, which led to the replacement of the “Fill, Construction and Alteration to Waterways” Regulation with the current “Development, Interference with Wetlands and Alterations to Shorelines and Watercourses” Regulation.

Ontario Regulation 97/04 outlines the content that each CA’s “Development, Interference with Wetlands and Alterations to Shorelines and Watercourses” Regulation would contain. While some CAs have been regulating wetlands, shorelines and inter-connecting channels for years, the amendments required all CAs to regulate Great Lakes shorelines, interconnecting channels, inland lakes and wetlands in addition to the areas and features each CA historically regulated. Section 28 (1)(a) was not enacted under Ontario Regulation 97/04 because of the overlap and potential confusion with the Ministry of Environment’s Ontario Water Resources Act and related regulations (i.e. Permits to Take Water).

Current Regulations – What is Regulated?

In 2006, the Minister of Natural Resources approved the individual "Development, Interference and Alteration" Regulations for all CAs (Ontario Regulations 42/06 and 146/06 to 182/06) consistent with Ontario Regulation 97/04. Through these regulations, CAs are empowered to regulate development and activities in or adjacent to river or stream valleys, Great Lakes and inland lakes shorelines, watercourses, hazardous lands and wetlands. They ensure conformity of wording across all CAs and complement municipal implementation of provincial policies under the Planning Act such as hazardous lands and wetlands. Development taking place on these lands may require permission from the CA to confirm that the control of flooding, erosion, dynamic beaches, pollution or the conservation of land are not affected. They also regulate the straightening, changing, diverting or interfering in any way with the existing channel of a river, creek, stream, watercourse or for changing or interfering in any way with a wetland.

Is a Permit Required?

To find out if your property is located in a regulated area (river or stream valley, Great Lakes and inland lake shorelines, hazardous lands, watercourses and wetlands) or if a development activity you wish to undertake is regulated, contact your local CA. Your local CA can also be contacted for information about the permit and approval process.

More Information

Conservation Ontario has produced a brochure that outlines more detail on these regulations and the areas of land that are protected: Development, Interference and Alterations Regulations Information Brochure.