Planning and Advisory

Aerial drone image of residential communities and natural areas in part of the Conservation Halton watershed.

Conservation Halton provides a variety of planning services to municipalities, provincial agencies and property owners throughout the watershed. This includes input on high-level provincial and municipal planning and policy documents, such as municipal official plans, planning studies, secondary plans, comprehensive zoning by-laws, and technical studies.


Conservation Halton also reviews planning applications circulated under the Planning Act, including the following types of applications and technical studies:

  • Official Plans and Official Plan Amendments
  • Secondary/Area Plans and Infrastructure Master Plans
  • Zoning By-laws and Zoning By-law Amendments
  • Plans of Subdivision and Plans of Condominium
  • Consents (severances and lot-line adjustments)
  • Site Plans and Site Alterations
  • Minor Variances

In addition to providing comments to municipalities, we provide comments and technical review for projects approved under other legislation and plans such as the Niagara Escarpment Plan and related Development Permit Applications and amendments, Parkway West Belt Plan, Greenbelt Plan, Environmental Assessment Act, Drainage Act, Aggregate Resources Act, and Water Resources Act. Conservation Halton also provides review on large-scale planning projects such as watershed studies, subwatershed studies, and subwatershed impact studies.

More details about the roles and responsibilities of Conservation Halton regarding both planning and permitting activities can be found on the main Permitting and Planning page.

Conservation Halton provides a range of planning and advisory services to watershed municipalities and other agencies. These services are typically outlined in Memoranda of Understanding or Agreement with individual municipalities and agencies.

Through these MOUs/MOAs, Conservation Halton provides:

  1. Technical input regarding potential environmental impacts
  2. Advice about how damaging impacts can be avoided or reduced and/or how opportunities for mitigation, restoration or improvement of environmental features and functions can be realized

The terms of the agreements for planning services provided by Conservation Halton depend on the in-house staff expertise and resource issues of concern within the specific municipality or agency. Comments apply to a range of matters, including but not limited to natural heritage, stormwater, groundwater quality and quantity.

Region of Halton, local municipalities, and conservation authorities recently renewed a high-level MOU. This MOU outlines general principles and approaches, but does not specifically define roles and responsibilities for planning services. Specific roles and responsibilities will be defined further in accordance with the renewed MOU. In the meantime, the roles and responsibilities as outlined in the 1999 MOU and Schedule 1 will apply.

Conservation Halton’s MOU/MOAs with municipal partners include:

Halton Region – Memorandum of Understanding (High Level Version)

Halton Region – Memorandum of Understanding (Detailed Version)

City of Hamilton – Memorandum of Understanding

Peel Region – Memorandum of Understanding

County of Wellington – Memorandum of Understanding

When an applicant submits a planning application to a municipality, municipal staff may screen the application to determine whether it is within the area of interest of Conservation Halton. We may be requested to attend a formal pre-consultation meeting with the applicant and the municipality.

At the pre-consultation meeting, we will identify the type of technical information needed for us to assess the application (e.g. topographical survey, geotechnical study, etc.) and determine whether approval from Conservation Halton is required under Ontario Regulation 162/06. Conservation Halton may also provide feedback related to our role as a service provider and/or Conservation Halton’s Delegated Interest in Plan Review.

The goal of the pre-consultation process is to:

  • discuss the nature and extent of the proposed works and define and scope technical studies and information that will be required in order for Conservation Halton to assess the application
  • identify any issues or concerns early in the process
  • clarify roles and responsibilities
  • specify complete application requirements
  • reduce or eliminate draft or repeat submissions later in the process

  • Send an E-mail – 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.P

To cover the cost of planning services, Conservation Halton has established fee schedules. The cost of providing planning services is not funded by municipal levies or other tax-supported funding. A pay-for-service model has been approved by the Conservation Halton Board of Directors. (Conservation Halton consulted with representatives from municipalities and the development industry in order to determine the fee schedules.)

These fees apply to all planning applications submitted by landowners and other development proponents. The information provided through the planning process ensures that risks to property from natural hazards and processes, such as flooding and erosion, are identified and minimized.

Please contact us to confirm the correct fee prior to submitting any payments.

Click here for Conservation Halton 2022 Planning Fees

Click here for Conservation Halton 2022 Pre-Application and Other Review Fees