Conservation Authorities are watershed-based resource management agencies, whose mandate includes a variety of roles and responsibilities in the land use planning and development process. Conservation Authorities responsibilities include ensuring development is not at risk from natural hazards such as flooding or erosion and they aim to protect and restore the ecological health and integrity of natural systems.
Conservation Authorities are empowered by the Conservation Authorities Act to regulate development and activities in or adjacent to river or stream valleys, Great Lakes and large inland lakes’ shorelines, watercourses, hazardous lands and wetlands.
They also regulate the straightening, changing, diverting or interfering in any way with the existing channel of a river, creek, stream or wetland. This work is to ensure that development taking place on these lands is protected from flooding, erosion, dynamic beaches and pollution, and that the conservation of land is not affected by development.
As Commenting Agencies
As "public bodies", Conservation Authorities are notified of policy documents, and planning or development applications, and use their local watershed expertise to provide input to provincial and municipal policy documents and applications submitted under the Planning Act.
Conservation Authorities have provincially delegated responsibilities to represent provincial interests regarding natural hazards under the Provincial Policy Statement.
Conservation Authorities are the second largest landowners in Ontario, next to the province. They manage over 146,000 hectares of natural features and systems comprised of wetlands, forests, moraines, lakes, rivers, streams, species at risk habitat, etc.
As landowners, Conservation Authorities may become involved in the planning and development process either as an adjacent landowner or as a proponent.
As Technical Advisors for Municipalities
Conservation Authorities often provide technical advice to municipalities through service agreements which may include activities such as natural heritage systems planning. They often provide advice on stormwater management, and the protection of natural features and functions.
Conservation Authorities follow the provincially approved Policies and Procedures for Conservation Authority Plan Review and Permitting Activities. This document confirms and clarifies the roles of Conservation Authorities and identifies key requirements for good client service.