’50 in 50′ Series: Land Use Planning in Ontario (1988)



Lower Trent Conservation is celebrating its 50th anniversary! To commemorate this milestone occasion, we have released our ’50 in 50′ historical blog series. This special series features 50 articles highlighting some of the achievements, milestones and events of the past 50 years. We hope you enjoy them!

Providing input to municipalities on planning applications is a key method by which Lower Trent Conservation protects the local watersheds and community. It is a proactive approach to flood plain management and environmental protection.

The Provincial policy direction all began in 1988 when the Flood Plain Planning Policy Statement and Guidelines were released by the Province. These policies emphasized the need for minimizing development in the flood plain and encouraged local municipalities to recognize flood hazards in their planning documents. The provincial direction helped to strengthen the Conservation Authority in its bid to minimize development in the flood plain.

Flood plain mapping along the Trent River

Lower Trent Conservation’s review of planning applications considers impacts on the local environment, based on policy direction approved by its Board of Directors. In addition to the local flavour, the Province has set planning policies which reinforce the Conservation Authority’s policies.

In 1992, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and the Minister of Natural Resources released a Provincial Wetland Policy under the Planning Act. This Policy gave direction for the protection of Provincially Significant Wetlands in southern Ontario. The policy also encouraged the conservation of other wetlands, providing much needed support to Lower Trent Conservation’s policy of “no development” in wetlands.

In 1995, the Comprehensive Set of Policy Statements was released by the Province, combining flood plain and wetland protection policies in one policy statement, along with other land use policies (e.g., agriculture, mining). This policy was short lived and replaced with the Provincial Policy Statement in 1996. The new policy statement included policies related to Natural Heritage, Natural Hazards, and Water Quality and Quantity, and recognized the importance of improving natural connections.

Flood Damage Warkworth_March 1980.jpg
Flood damage in Warkworth (1980)

Later, other legislation and policies released by the Province included: the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act and Conservation Plan, Greenbelt Act and Plan, and Places to Grow Act and Growth Plan. These policies set directions for specific areas in our watershed and are taken into consideration when making planning decisions.

While Lower Trent Conservation has agreements with its member municipalities to provide advice on matters relating to natural heritage and water quality and quantity, the Province has delegated to conservation authorities the responsibilities for commenting on planning applications with respect to the provincial natural hazard policies  (e.g., flooding, erosion).

Erosion on Lake Ontario shoreline (2011)

In addition to the planning policies, the Conservation Authority makes use of the opportunity of reviewing proposed development applications to advise municipalities, developers, and landowners of the applicability of our  Development, Interference with Wetlands and Alterations to Shorelines and Watercourses Regulation (Ontario Regulation 163/06).

Through legislation, official plans and zoning by-laws, and local policies and regulations, the Province, Municipalities, and Lower Trent Conservation work together to minimize the risks of new development on flood plains, natural heritage, and water quality, helping to preserve the natural wonders so abundant in the Lower Trent watershed region.

Birds-eye view from Sager Conservation Area tower (2018)

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