Conservation Authorities are watershed-based resource management agencies, whose mandate includes responsibilities and functions in the land use planning and development process. Conservation Authorities ensure that decisions are informed by the best available watershed-science practices while eliminating unnecessary delay or duplication in the process. Generally, Conservation Authorities deliver programs and activities that help the Province and municipalities to reach the important natural hazard objectives of the Provincial Policy Statement.
Responsibilities of Conservation Authorities in Land Use Planning are:
- Delegated responsibility to represent provincial interest in natural hazards
Conservation Authorities have delegated responsibilities to represent provincial interests regarding Natural Hazards (Section 3.1 under Public Health and Safety made under the Provincial Policy Statement - excluding fire). These delegated responsibilities require Conservation Authorities to review and provide comments on policy documents (official plans and comprehensive zoning by-laws) as part of the Provincial One-Window Plan Review Service and applications submitted pursuant to the Planning Act. In 2001, Conservation Ontario signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing that defined the roles of and responsibilities of each agency with respect to delegated responsibilities for natural hazards.
- Watershed-based resource management agency
Conservation Authorities, as “public bodies” pursuant to the Planning Act, are to be notified of policy documents, and planning and development applications as prescribed under the Act. Conservation Authorities may comment as per their mandate to the municipality/planning approval authority on these documents and applications. In this role, the Conservation Authority is responsible to represent its interests as a watershed-based resource management agency. In this regard, Conservation Authorities operating under the authority of the Conservation Authorities Act, and in conjunction with municipalities, develop business plans, watershed plans and natural resource management plans within their jurisdictions (watersheds). These plans may recommend specific approaches to land use and resource planning, and management that should be incorporated into municipal planning documents and related development applications in order to be implemented.
- Planning advisory service to municipalities
Conservation Authorities may perform a technical advisory role to municipalities, as determined under the terms of a service agreement (Memorandum of Understanding) with participating municipalities. These advisory services may include, but are not limited to, matters related to the assessment or analysis of water quality and quantity, environmental impacts, technical expertise associated with hydrogeology, stormwater studies, and activities near or in the vicinity of sensitive natural features such as wetlands, river and stream valleys, or significant woodlands. By providing planning advisory services for the review of Planning Act applications, Conservation Authorities and municipalities can ensure the implementation of a comprehensive resource management program on a watershed basis. Learn more about Integrated Watershed Management.
The planning advisory service agreements allow the Conservation Authority the opportunity to provide advice to the municipality on the interpretation of the Provincial Policy Statement and Provincial Plans (e.g., Greenbelt, Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation, Niagara Escarpment, Growth Plans). With the exception of natural hazards for which Conservation Authorities have delegated responsibility to represent the provincial interest, this advice is not represented as a “provincial position”.
- Conservation Authorities as landowner
Conservation Authorities are landowners, and as such, may become involved in the planning and development process, either as an adjacent landowner or a proponent.
- Conservation Authorities Act regulations
In participating in the review of development applications under the Planning Act, Conservation Authorities will:
i. Ensure that the applicant and municipal planning authority are aware of the Section 28 regulations and requirements under the CA Act
ii. Assist in the coordination of applications under the Planning Act and the Conservation Authorities Act to eliminate unnecessary delay or duplication in the process.
- Other delegated regulatory/approval or review responsibility
Individual Conservation Authorities may enter into agreements with federal and provincial ministries and municipalities to undertake delegated regulatory/approval responsibilities and/or reviews (e.g., septic system approvals under the Ontario Building Code).
Policies and Procedures for Conservation Authority Plan Review and Permitting Activities
Changes to the Federal Fisheries Act
DFO-CO Memorandum of Understanding
Protecting Our Future: Ontario Provincial Plans and Conservation Authorities
Conservation Authority Programs help to meet the goals of Provincial Plans
Conservation Authorities regulatory and land-use planning activities contribute to Provincial Plan outcomes