’50 in 50′ Series: Land Use Planning Using Nature’s Boundaries (1995)


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!

Imagine following a stream or river to see where it flows. It may start in a wetland, run through woodlands and fields, travel through small towns and large cities, and eventually flow into a larger river or lake. All of the land that drains into that stream or river is called a watershed. Watersheds are natural geographic units – they are defined by nature. Watershed boundaries may cross municipal, provincial, and even international borders. They come in all shapes and sizes and can vary from millions of acres, like the land that drains into the Great Lakes, to a few acres that drain into a pond.

Ontario’s Conservation Authorities are organized on a watershed basis. Lower Trent Conservation’s watershed region includes the furthest downstream section of the Trent River watershed, encompassing 2,070 square kilometres. It includes the Trent River, which flows out of Rice Lake to the Bay of Quinte at Trenton, and the watersheds of eight main tributaries. The watershed region also includes a number of smaller watercourses that flow directly into Lake Ontario and the Bay of Quinte from Grafton to Quinte West.

Map of the watersheds within the Lower Trent Watershed Region

As watershed managers, Lower Trent Conservation works with municipalities to ensure that the natural environment is recognized as an important part of the local community – as important as the road, sewer, and water supply systems. The development of watershed plans ensures that future growth of a municipality will not seriously impact the natural environment.

Several watershed studies have been completed in the Lower Trent Conservation watershed to respond to development pressure and the need for stormwater management. These watershed plans were completed with funding through the Bay of Quinte Remedial Action Plan. They include:

  • The South Sidney Watershed Plan (1995) which builds upon a planning program put in place by the South Sidney Secondary Plan and the Official Plan of the former Township of Sidney.
  • The Dead & York Creek Watershed Plan (1998) that encompasses the lands draining into Dead Creek, York Creek, and the Dead Creek Marsh north of the Murray Canal within part of the former Township of Murray and City of Trenton.
  • A State of the Watershed Report (2000) completed for Mayhew Creek, which flows from west to east through an agricultural setting into the urbanized north end of Trenton.
stormwater sign lucille.jpg
Stormwater Management sign (2005)

A lack of funding has prohibited Lower Trent Conservation from completing other watershed plans. Hopefully, with updates to provincial policies and plans such as the 2014 Provincial Policy Statement, 2017 Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan, Greenbelt Plan and Growth Plan, all calling for watershed planning, there will be a renewed interest in undertaking watershed plans in the region.

Regardless of what formal plans are completed in conjunction with local municipalities, one fundamental principle needs to be kept in mind. Water continuously moves through watersheds and influences numerous life cycles and physical processes throughout. It is important to make decisions based on watersheds, because activities in one part of the watershed may have impacts upstream or downstream. “Nothing exists in isolation … everything is connected to everything else. If we alter one part of the environment, the effects will be felt elsewhere, like ripples on a pond after a stone is thrown in.” (David Crombie, Royal Commission on the Future of the Toronto Waterfront, 1990). Since watersheds follow natural boundaries, they are ideal units for planning, managing, and protecting our precious land and water resources.

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