Permitting

Since 1972, Conservation Halton has administered a regulation passed under the Conservation Authorities Act. This regulation is intended to prevent loss of life and property damage as a result of natural hazards as well as to protect and restore the ecosystem in sensitive natural areas. The current regulation administered by Conservation Halton is Ontario Regulation 162/06. Through this regulation, permission from Conservation Halton is required for most works in and adjacent to:

Aerial drone image of residential communities and natural areas in the north part of Oakville, Ontario.
  • watercourses
  • flood plains
  • steep slopes
  • valley lands
  • meander belts
  • shoreline of Lake Ontario
  • wetlands
  • hazardous land

Permission from Conservation Halton is required to develop in an area regulated by Conservation Halton. If it can be demonstrated to the satisfaction of Conservation Halton that the development, alteration or interference will not affect the control of flooding, erosion, dynamic beaches, pollution or the conservation of the area, Conservation Halton may grant permission.

Development is defined in the Conservation Authorities Act to mean:

  • the construction, reconstruction, erection or placing of a building or structure of any kind (e.g. all buildings, including accessory non-habitable structures such as gazebos, decks, storage sheds, docks, stairs, retaining walls, etc.)
  • any change to a building or structure that would have the effect of altering the use or potential use of the building or structure, increasing the size of the building or structure or increasing the number of dwelling units in the building or structure
  • site grading
  • the temporary or permanent placing, dumping or removal of any material, originating on the site or elsewhere

Online mapping shows the approximate areas that Conservation Halton regulates but it is always best to contact Conservation Halton to confirm if the works you are proposing will require a permit. This way, we can let you know if your property or activity is regulated by Conservation Halton and whether your proposal requires permission. If permission is required, we will assist you through the permit review process. You can send an email to envserv@hrca.on.ca or contact the staff responsible for the municipality of your property:

Please note that permission from Conservation Halton does not replace other permits required by the municipality or other agencies, such as the Niagara Escarpment Commission. We recommend that you contact your local municipality for information about additional approvals that may be required.

Pre-Consultation

It is strongly recommended that you contact Conservation Halton prior to submitting an application for permit, so that we can provide you with direction on the information, studies and fees that will be needed for the application, as well as the timeline required to review your application. To facilitate the pre-consultation meeting, you should submit as much information about your proposed works as possible prior to the meeting (e.g. concept plan, when and how work will take place, etc.)

Permit Application

Once a pre-consultation meeting occurs and a permit application is submitted, we will either confirm that the application is complete, or provide you with a written list of missing or incomplete information. We aim to provide this confirmation within 21 days. Once all information has been submitted and the application is deemed complete, we aim to complete a review of the application within four weeks. However, under certain circumstances, review times may be longer.

Study Checklists

The following checklists are used to determine what studies are required (if any) to deem a permit application complete. At the pre-consultation meeting, we will work with you to ensure that only those studies that are required for the technical review of your individual permit application are identified in the appropriate checklist below. These checklists are to be completed by Conservation Halton and should not be done prior to meeting with staff.

We will work with all applicants to ensure that your proposal meets the requirements of Ontario Regulation 162/06 and Conservation Halton policies, and that decisions are made in a timely manner.

Permit Decisions

Review times and requests for re-submissions are directly affected by the level of completion and quality of the original permit application. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that they have participated in a pre-consultation and that technical submissions and re-submissions meet required standards. This approach is recommended to minimize the extent and number of re-submissions needed and prevent unnecessary delays.

When the technical review and site visits have been completed, Conservation Halton staff prepare recommendations for decision. If the proposal meets the approved policies by the Conservation Halton Board of Directors, staff can issue permission. Applications that do not meet these policies will be taken to the Board of Directors with a staff recommendation. Applications that are considered minor (e.g., smaller works or those that are within the allowance), deemed to be complete and conform to approved policies are generally processed quickly and a decision is made within 28 days.

Hearings & Appeals

For applications that do not meet approved policies by the Conservation Halton Board of Directors, or if the applicant objects to conditions of approval, a hearing will be scheduled in accordance with Hearing Procedures. Under the terms of the Conservation Authorities Act and Ontario Regulation 162/06, the Conservation Halton Board of Directors acts as the Hearing Board. The Hearing Board is empowered by law to make a decision and governed by the Statutory Powers and Procedures Act.

Attendance of Hearing Board members is recorded at the hearing. Staff will highlight the merits and concerns of the application and provide reasons to support their recommendations. The applicant and/or agent will present their case and respond to any information presented by Conservation Halton staff. Upon hearing the presentations and evidence, the Hearing Board may grant the permission with or without conditions, or refuse the permission.

Where the application is refused, the applicant is notified of the reasons at the meeting, as well as in writing shortly after. The applicant will be informed of their right to appeal the decision of the Hearing Board to the Ontario Lands Tribunal, within 30 days of receiving its reasons for refusal in writing. The Ontario Lands Tribunal has been assigned the authority, duties and powers to hear appeals from the decisions of conservation authorities. The Ontario Lands Tribunal may dismiss the appeal or grant permission at a hearing.

Where the application is granted permission by the Hearing Board or Tribunal, Conservation Halton will issue the permit final plans are received and any conditions imposed by the Hearing Board or Tribunal have been addressed.

For us to review your proposal, the submission of several items and technical studies may be required. An application for permission to undertake development may include the following:

  • A completed and signed permit application form
  • The application fee payment
  • A plan of the area showing the type and location of the development or and/or plan view and cross-section details of the proposed alteration
  • The proposed use of any buildings and structures following completion of the development
  • The start and completion dates of the development
  • The elevations of existing buildings, if any, and grades and the proposed elevations of buildings and grades after development
  • Drainage details before and after development
  • A complete description of the type of fill proposed to be placed or dumped
  • Other technical studies or plans

These requirements may vary depending on the works proposed, so it is best to consult with us prior to submitting a permit application. Should a re-submission of technical plans or studies be required, you will be requested to complete a re-submission form.

  • Send an Email – We are available via email, video conference, phone or in person, but it is best to connect through email first. Please email us with any questions, or if you would like to set up a time for a virtual meeting or conference call. You should continue to connect directly to your contact on the Planning & Regulations team for matters specific to your file. General inquiries can be directed to envserv@hrca.on.ca.
  • Digital Submissions – Digital submissions are preferred and can be made via email. Dropbox can also be used for larger files (see process below). Conservation Halton permits and correspondences will be issued via email.
  • Dropbox – A Dropbox account has been set up for large planning and permit submissions. We will provide applicants with a link and password so that digital submissions can be uploaded.
  • Reduce File Sizes – Given the volume of digital submissions that we receive, as well as the amount of data associated with most planning or permit submissions, it is helpful if files are compressed, where possible (i.e., reduce PDF and AutoCAD file size and create zip files). It is also helpful for large technical reports to be broken down into separate sections (i.e., main report should be separate from appendices) and larger plans or figures sent separately from reports. Please use short file names that clearly identify the file contents.
  • Prioritize Files – It is helpful if you can prioritize your files and identify needs that are critical to your business, so please let us know if there are certain files you would like us to focus our attention on.
  • Electronic Payments – Credit card or Electronic Fund Transfers (EFTs) are the preferred method of payment for both permit and planning submissions. Staff can provide direction on how to make these payments. (Please note that we are unable to process any application without the applicable review fee.)
  • Planning Reviews – New planning applications are circulated to Conservation Halton by our municipal partners and should not be submitted directly to Conservation Halton (except electronic payment). All review agencies should be copied on subsequent submissions to ensure that each agency is reviewing the same information. Digital submissions are preferred and should include all required information.
  • Upfront Technical Reviews – To expedite the review, we recommend large technical reviews be completed in advance of a formal planning or permit application submission (e.g., EIR/FSS, SIS). We can also work with landowners to identify environmental constraints and opportunities for specific sites (e.g., floodplain modelling reviews, wetland water balance assessments). Technical review fees will apply.
  • Site Inspections – We are available to complete site inspections. Participants must abide by public health requirements (e.g., physical distancing, wearing masks, etc.). In some situations we may consider alternative options to expedite site inspections, such as drone flyover video and/or photos. We encourage landowners to contact staff, so that we can discuss if video is appropriate for the given site or works.

Conservation Halton has established a permit fee schedule to offset the cost of reviewing permit applications and technical information. As such, fees depend on the scale, scope and technical review required. Please be aware that fees apply to all permit applications submitted by landowners and other development proponents. (Conservation Halton consulted with representatives from municipalities and the development industry in order to determine the permit fee schedule.)

In order to provide permitting and planning services, Conservation Halton has an interdisciplinary team that works together to deliver comprehensive reviews. Our commitment to client service has been supported by the Conservation Halton Board of Directors through its approval of our Client Services Policy In addition, Conservation Halton reports to the Board of Directors on our response times for the review of planning and permit applications.

The Compliance and Enforcement program for Planning and Regulations at Conservation Halton has four goals:

  1. Ensure compliance with approvals associated with Ontario Regulation 162/06.
  2. Ensure that reported or detected violations are resolved in a timely and cost-effective manner.
  3. Proceed with the legal process of laying charges when the violation is deliberate and the landowner is unwilling to resolve the violation.
  4. Educate the public on the regulatory roles and responsibilities of Conservation, and provide guidance on paths forward.

Conservation Halton staff work with the Niagara Escarpment Commission, municipalities, the public and other stakeholders to respond to reported or detected works that have been completed or are underway without permission in areas that are regulated by Conservation Halton. Early identification of infractions allows staff to work with landowners and/or their agents to minimize impacts to regulated features and areas and to remedy issues at minimal cost.

Where infractions are easily remedied, staff work to avoid formal or legal action, which can result in costly fines, penalties and legal fees. Staff work with willing landowners to resolve violations with on-site remediation or through a restoration or compliance agreement. Restoration Agreements are negotiated with willing landowners where the alleged infraction can be fully removed from the regulated area. Compliance Agreements are negotiated with willing landowners for violations that have the potential to meet Conservation Halton policies and regulatory requirements.

When a landowner is unwilling to enter into an agreement and where, in the opinion of staff, the unauthorized development is likely to affect the control of flooding, erosion, dynamic beaches, pollution or conservation of the land, more formal actions are considered. Through formal proceedings, staff endeavour to negotiate a settlement, wherever possible.

In order to ensure compliance, Conservation Halton staff may undertake inspections of approved permits.

A contravention of Ontario Regulation 162/06 may occur when:

  • development, interference or alteration activities have taken place beyond what was approved by Conservation Halton
  • development or activities related to an alteration or interference which require approval have occurred without written permission from Conservation Halton

When a violation is identified, Conservation Halton staff will make every effort to work with the landowner and/or agent to remove and/or restore the affected area through compliance processes. Where the landowner and/or agent is unwilling to resolve issues, Conservation Halton may lay charges and initiate court proceedings.

If convicted, the person(s) committing the offence may be subject to a fine up to $10,000 or to a term of imprisonment of not more than three months. In addition, the development, interference or alteration may be required to be removed at the expense of the landowner. The landowner may also be required to rehabilitate the impacted area in a manner prescribed by the courts.

If you think a violation is occurring, please use the tips line to report your observations to tips@hrca.on.ca