Watershed Strategy

Guiding Principles and Objectives

Conservation Halton has developed an overarching goal as well as guiding principles and objectives for our Watershed-Based Resource Management Strategy (“Watershed Strategy”). These guiding statements will help us focus our programs and services on specific outcomes that are important to our municipalities and residents and that allow us to fulfill our purpose under the Conservation Authorities Act.

Background Information

Goal: a broad statement describing a desired long-term outcome.

Principle: a concept or idea that guides measurable actions.

Objective: a statement describing desired outcomes for measurable short-term actions that help achieve a goal.

Our Watershed Strategy will build on our current strategic plan, Momentum, which was developed with public input and approved by our Board. Momentum provides a strong foundation and direction for our programs and services based on a clear purpose, values, objectives, and set of strategic priorities that include but are not limited to:

Natural Hazards & Water: Protect people, property, drinking water sources and natural resources to support development that is in balance with the environment.

Science, Conservation & Restoration: Use environmental science, collaborative research and collective data to protect the integrity and strengthen the resilience of our ecosystems.

Nature & Parks: Grow our network of parks and greenspaces to promote equitable access and provide unique experiences that connect people with nature and heritage.

Education, Empowerment & Engagement: Inspire action by fostering an appreciation of our environment and heritage through leading edge educational programming and outdoor experiences.

Explore our strategic plan priorities and objectives, which we track and report on through our annual reports.

Our Watershed Strategy will respond to the key resource issues and resource management needs that are unique to our watersheds. The scope of the strategy will be consistent with our recently approved Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) for watershed programs and services with our participating municipalities. You can review our MOUs here.



Public Survey Results

Our draft goal and guiding principles and objectives were posted to our website for a 30-day review period. We received 33 completed surveys from municipalities, First Nations, and other local groups and individuals. Responses generally supported the proposed goal and guiding principles and objectives for the design and delivery of Conservation Halton’s programs and services. These components have since been updated to reflect survey feedback.

Key updates include revising our principles to further support partnerships and First Nations engagement, as well as adjusting language for added clarity and to align with our Memorandums of Understanding more closely.

The Conservation Halton Board endorsed the Watershed Strategy’s revised goal and its guiding principles and objectives in April 2024.

Our Goal, Guiding Principles, and Objectives

To design and deliver cost-effective programs and services that:

  • help protect people and property from natural hazards and related climate change impacts,
  • help address watershed-scale key resource issues,
  • help protect, conserve, and enhance nature,
  • deliver environmental education, and
  • provide opportunities for outdoor recreation on Conservation Halton lands.

Principle I
Natural Resources Provide Essential Services That Are Best Managed on a Watershed Basis

Watershed Scale: The management of natural resources will be implemented on a watershed basis through our Watershed Strategy and the Conservation Area Strategy as defined by legislation.

Watershed-based Resource Management Strategy: The Watershed Strategy will provide a comprehensive and collaborative framework to identify and analyze natural resource issues, conditions, trends, and risks for delivering cost-effective programs and services to manage them.

Essential Services: Natural resources provide essential services (e.g., they buffer impacts of climate change, mitigate natural hazards, filter contaminants, sustain biodiversity, provide green spaces for recreation), and will be valued, managed, and protected as natural assets to support community prosperity, growth, and well-being.


Principle II
Managing Water and Other Natural Resources is a Shared Responsibility

Partners: Key partners in natural resource management will include Conservation Halton, municipalities, First Nations, government agencies, landowners, and other stakeholders.

Scope: The Watershed Strategy will address key resource management issues associated with natural hazards, climate change impacts on natural resources, and drinking water sources as defined in the legislation and other resource management issues as agreed to by funding partners.

Approach: A collaborative, transparent and precautionary approach will be used to develop and implement the Watershed Strategy.


Principle III
Management of Water and Other Natural Resources is Effective and Efficient

Funding: Government funding will be efficiently allocated; costs for programs and services will be shared through the budget process and agreements and be offset through other partnerships, grants, fees-for-service, or sources of funding; available resources will be coordinated and pooled to achieve cost savings wherever possible.

Management Approaches: Best value, optimal and integrated solutions will be sought using a dynamic, responsive, and adaptive approach which is supported by monitoring, progress reporting, and periodic review.

Implementation: Best practices will be applied; provincial standards will be achieved or exceeded; existing staff and organizational expertise will be optimized; actions will be streamlined, complementary, value-added, and coordinated, where possible; unnecessary duplication will be eliminated.

Data and Knowledge Sharing: Relevant data will be collected, integrated, and analyzed using sound science, established protocols and standards, and robust analytical tools and technologies; information will be shared in usable formats among partners to support decision making and evaluation; outcomes and progress are reported.


Principle IV
Engagement is Integrated and Iterative

Active Participation: Opportunities for active participation by municipalities, government agencies, First Nations, and subject matter experts will be provided.

Public Engagement: Community groups, landowners, residents, and other stakeholders will be invited to actively engage to provide local knowledge and perspectives; input will be documented, summarized and publicly accessible.

Regular Reporting and Revision:
 Implementation outcomes will be reported regularly; our programs and services will be adjusted based on results.

The following high-level objectives for the Watershed Strategy build on and complement our proposed goal:

  • To avoid, reduce or mitigate risk to public health and safety and property damage from flooding and other natural hazards and the impacts of climate change.
  • To identify key natural resource issues and primary stressors that influence them, both locally and cumulatively, including climate change.
  • To monitor key indicators of natural resource issues to describe conditions, trends, and risks.
  • To characterize surface/groundwater systems and natural resources, which support hydrological and ecological integrity and influence natural hazard processes.
  • To identify the causes and risks of key natural resource issues and develop potential solutions for addressing them that foster climate change resiliency, biodiversity, community sustainability, and well-being.
  • To protect, improve and restore surface and ground water quality and quantity to maintain natural watershed functions/services and reduce impacts on the Hamilton Harbour and western Lake Ontario.
  • To mitigate risks to municipal drinking water sources as specified by the Clean Water Act and promote sustainable and clean water for communities and ecosystems.
  • To recognize the value of CH-owned lands in supporting all the objectives and providing accessible, high-quality and sustainable outdoor recreation and education opportunities.