The MVCA Watershed Planning Advisory Program for municipalities helps create a balance between the community needs and the needs of the natural environment.
Watershed planning is the most effective means of evaluating and developing water related resource management strategies and practices. A watershed plan is a document developed cooperatively to manage land and water interactions, aquatic resources within a particular watershed, and to protect the health of the ecosystem as land use changes.
“Planning is concerned with future actions, involves predictions about outcomes, links directions with action and is a collective activity.”
(E.R. Alexander, 1986)
Watershed and sub-watershed planning should address the following general questions:
- What is the location, present status, significance, sensitivity of the existing natural environment and functional relationship between critical elements?
- What are the impacts of existing and future land use activities?
- What measures or activities can effectively mitigate the adverse impacts?
- What opportunities are available to enhance the natural system?
- What are compatible uses?
A sub-watershed plan reflects the goals of the Watershed Plan, but is tailored to the tributary needs and provides more detailed guidance for site specific water resource planning issues. Watershed and sub-watershed studies do not determine land use. Instead they establish constraints, opportunities and approaches for input into the land use planning process.
Successful studies provide:
- Direction for environmental protection and enhancement through input to planning documents, stewardship programs and development review.
- Context for more efficient servicing decisions and cost-effective capital expenditures.
- Streamlined approvals by addressing the interest of parties up front.
- The public with meaningful opportunities for input.
- Long term economic viability by promoting a clean healthy environment.
The Planning Act, the Provincial Policy Statement, and associated regulations, determine the planning process in Ontario. These documents outline the environmental and resource management responsibilities of all conservation authorities.The MVCA planning advisory program helps implement these responsibilities.
This program reflects the two principal approaches to Ontario’s planning process: long range planning and development review. At the municipal level, MVC reviews Official Plans and Zoning By-laws to ensure they include the consideration of natural hazards, such as flooding and erosion, and natural heritage issues, such as wetlands, wildlife habitat and fish habitat.
The short term/development review component of the planning program is the review of development proposals. The purpose of this activity is to advise decision makers of conflicts and implications relating to the MVCA objectives and the conformity of the proposal with matters of provincial interest. Short term planning includes the review of site specific Official Plan and Zoning By-law amendments, as well as minor variances, lot creation applications and site plans. Due to the conflict between severe funding cuts and the responsibility of implementing provincial policy, MVCA is obligated to charge a fee to proponents for the review of their development proposals.