Conservation Authorities Act and Strategies

Conservation authorities are required to have a number of strategies and plans in place, which are under development. These include:

 

PROVIDE YOUR INPUT

 

About the Conservation Authorities Act

Conservation authorities are watershed management agencies established under the Conservation Authorities Act, 1946.

The purpose of the Conservation Authorities Act is to provide for the organization and delivery of programs and services that further the conservation, restoration, development, and management of natural resources in watersheds in Ontario.

Conservation authorities work in partnership with all levels of government, landowners, and other agencies. Additional background information on conservation authorities is available through Conservation Ontario.

Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) was formed in 1957 and is one of 36 conservation authorities in Ontario governed by the Conservation Authorities Act.

TRCA’s jurisdiction includes nine watersheds and the Lake Ontario shoreline. This area includes six upper or single-tier and 15 lower-tier municipalities representing almost five million people, or approximately 10% of Canada’s population.

Additional information on TRCA’s area of jurisdiction and partnering municipalities is available HERE.

aerial view of Lake Ontario waterfront
TRCA’s jurisdiction includes nine watersheds and the Lake Ontario shoreline.

 

About Ontario Regulation 686/21

Ontario Regulation 686/21: Mandatory Programs & Services, issued pursuant to section 21.1 of the Conservation Authorities Act, requires all conservation authorities to provide:

  • Programs and services related to the risk of natural hazards
  • Programs and services related to the conservation and management of lands owned or controlled by the authority, including any interests in land registered on title
  • Other programs and services prescribed in the regulation
  • Programs and services related to the authority’s duties, functions, and responsibilities as a source protection authority under the Clean Water Act, 2006
  • Programs and services related to the authority’s duties, functions, and responsibilities under an Act prescribed by regulations

As part of the implementation, Ontario Regulation 686/21 requires all conservation authorities to prepare the following documents by December 31, 2024:

The regulation stipulates that the conservation authority shall ensure stakeholders and the public are consulted during the preparation of the Conservation Area Strategy and Watershed-based Resource Management Strategy.

 

What Does This Mean for TRCA?

Many of TRCA’s existing programs and plans fulfill or exceed the information requirements or components of the Strategies and Plans required by the Province.

  • Examples of already completed/existing components include:
  • TRCA is working to ensure the strategic work of these programs and plans is consolidated, documented, and updated to match the requirements of the regulation for each Strategy or Plan.

These Strategies and Plans support the following pillars and outcomes in TRCA’s 2023-2034 Strategic Plan:

The Strategies and Plans are also consistent with TRCA’s Memorandums of Understanding for Municipally Requested Services.

 

Public Consultation

Two strategies have mandated consultation:

These strategies will be completed by the end of 2024.

Help to shape these strategies by answering a few questions.

Survey deadline: June 30, 2024.

How do we define guiding principle, goal, and objective?

A guiding principle is the fundamental basis for TRCA’s work.

A goal is an achievable outcome that is broad and longer-term.

An objective is shorter-term and defines measurable actions to achieve an overall goal. Objectives are supported by a series of initiatives, actions, and tasks. These strategies will not delve into the initiatives, actions and tasks needed to achieve the objectives and goals.

 

Conservation Area Strategy

Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) is developing a Conservation Area Strategy (“CA Strategy”) to guide what programs and services TRCA offers on lands that it owns and/or manages.

The CA Strategy will help TRCA continue to lead the protection and enhancement of our conservation areas and greenspaces.

aerial view of Claireville Conservation Area
TRCA-managed parks and lands include Claireville Conservation Area, 540 hectares of natural and forested area that straddles Peel Region and Toronto.

We Want to Hear from You!

The CA Strategy will be completed by the end of 2024. We welcome your ideas to help make it better. Take our survey and share your feedback by June 30, 2024.

COMPLETE THE SURVEY NOW

Why is the CA Strategy Important?

The CA Strategy provides direction for how TRCA conserves the lands it owns and manages.

It will not give details about what specific conservation actions should happen on the lands. Rather, the objectives in the CA Strategy will be used by TRCA to create management policies, plans, and practices for TRCA conservation areas.

About TRCA Lands

The map below shows TRCA owned and managed properties across our jurisdiction. (Select the image below to view the full-sized map.)

map of the nine watersheds in TRCA jurisdiction

TRCA’s Greenspace Acquisition Project 2021-2030 guides our land acquisitions.

Objectives for TRCA Lands

The CA Strategy pulls together goals and objectives to guide conservation actions for lands owned or managed by TRCA. These objectives are consistent with TRCA’s Strategic Plan 2023-2034.

The proposed goals and objectives are:

Acquisition and Disposition

Land Securement Goal: Be a leader in greenspace conservation.

  • Land Securement Objectives:
    • Permanently secure lands that contribute to the delivery of TRCA programs and services to protect people and property from natural hazards and to conserve natural resources for economic, social, and environmental benefit, and that are well-integrated into our communities.
    • Dispose of lands only as needed and when there is no negative impact to provincially significant conservation lands or ecologically significant lands.

 

Long-term Management

Environmental Protection and Hazard Management Goal: Mitigate hazard risks to communities and protect the natural environment.

  • Environmental Protection and Hazard Management Objectives:
    • Deliver provincially mandated services pertaining to natural hazards including flood and erosion monitoring and risk management.
    • Ensure safe and sustainable operations and access, site protection and maintenance, ecosystem protection and unmatched visitor experiences.
    • Contribute to healthy and resilient watershed ecosystems in the face of climate and land use changes through conservation, protection, rehabilitation, establishment, enhancement and ongoing management of ecological integrity and natural heritage resources.

Community Prosperity Goal: Meet the current and future needs of communities in ways that build communities to drive local action and improve wellbeing.

  • Community Prosperity Objectives:
    • Ensure that the public has access to quality and sustainable active and passive outdoor recreation and education programming in nature.
    • Demonstrate innovative land management that leads to more accessible and inclusive communities.
    • Collaborate with communities on environmental initiatives that create informed citizens who are conservation champions.
    • Enable communities to protect the natural environment with their own hands.
    • Conserve, protect, rehabilitate, enhance and manage cultural heritage resources.

 

What Else Will Be Covered in the CA Strategy?

  • The programs and services offered on TRCA lands, some required and some optional
  • Connections between TRCA lands to surrounding natural spaces, public lands, and trails
  • Different categories of TRCA lands based on their use
  • A plan for how the CA Strategy will be reviewed and updated

What Comes Next?

Strategies will be submitted for endorsement at TRCA’s Board of Directors meeting in November 2024.

 

Watershed-based Resource
Management Strategy

Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) is developing a Watershed-based Resource Management Strategy (“Watershed Strategy”) to guide our programs and services.

Our Watershed Strategy will help us continue to protect nature and protect people from flooding and erosion in the communities we serve, and direct where to focus our conservation efforts.

We will use the latest scientific data, including climate change projections, to keep our watersheds healthy for the future.

Highland Creek in autumn
Highland Creek is one of the nine watersheds in TRCA’s jurisdiction.

We Want to Hear from You!

The Watershed Strategy will be completed by the end of 2024. We welcome your ideas to help make it better. Take our survey and share your feedback by June 30, 2024.

COMPLETE THE SURVEY NOW

Why is the Watershed Strategy Important?

The Watershed Strategy will help TRCA and our partner municipalities guide how our future watershed plans are developed and updated.

These watershed plans are our blueprint for sustainable development, ensuring that our rivers and surrounding lands thrive for generations to come.

LEARN MORE ABOUT WATERSHED MANAGEMENT

The Watershed Strategy will not give details about what actions should be taken to conserve our watersheds; that’s what the watershed plans are for.

Guiding Principles and Objectives for the Watershed Strategy

Draft Guiding Principles
  1. Sound development and resource management decisions in an urbanizing region are best made in a watershed context that considers an adaptive, preventative, and proactive systems approach and both incremental change and cumulative impacts over time.
  2. The long-term function, integrity, and resilience of watersheds and ecosystems is best achieved through a science-based and integrated watershed management approach that is respectful of the rights and perspectives of First Nations and Indigenous Communities.
  3. Protection of life and property from flooding, erosion, and other natural hazards is dependent on natural heritage system protection, restoration and remediation, inclusive of valley landforms, stream corridors, wetlands, watercourses, and shorelines in their natural state.
  4. Development and redevelopment should contribute to the prevention, elimination, and reduction in risk to drinking water, flooding, erosion, dynamic beaches, low water/drought, and slope instability.
  5. A healthy natural heritage system and water resource system provide the foundation of a sustainable and resilient community and provide nature-based solutions to challenges posed by climate change and urbanization.
  6. The planning and development of sustainable and resilient communities requires a collaborative approach among TRCA and our partners to incorporate innovative and integrated community design that maximizes long-term community benefits.

 

Draft Objectives
  1. Identify, mitigate, and/or remediate natural hazard risks to communities and improve the surrounding natural environment.
  2. Identify, protect, enhance, and restore the areas and features that make up the water resource system, natural heritage system, and urban forest to ensure ecosystem resilience and sustainability.
  3. Identify and mitigate the risks to municipal drinking water sources and ensure a sustainable and clean water supply for communities.
  4. Achieve sustainable land use and infrastructure development patterns to protect, enhance, and restore water quality and maintain stable water balance.
  5. Identify, understand, and manage current and predicted key watershed issues and the primary stressors that cause them.

 

What Else Will Be Covered in the Watershed Strategy?

  • Guiding Principles and Objectives to direct decisions about watershed health
  • Additional information about watershed planning and the process for making decisions about watershed health
  • A plan for future watershed planning
  • How the Watershed Strategy will be reviewed and updated

What Comes Next?

Strategies will be submitted for endorsement at TRCA’s Board of Directors meeting in November 2024.

 

Land Inventory

TRCA’s Land Inventory identifies every parcel of land that TRCA owns and includes some basic information for each parcel, such as location, acquisition date, method, and land use category, among others.

The Land Inventory will be reviewed and updated from time to time and is an internal document that is not available online.

aerial view of TRCA Altona Forest property
The Land Inventory identifies every parcel of land that owned by TRCA, such as Altona Forest, pictured above.

 

Ice Management Plan

TRCA’s Ice Management Plan identifies:

  • How ice within TRCA’s area of jurisdiction may increase the risk of natural hazards
  • The steps necessary to mitigate these risks, including identifying equipment and resources needed to carry out these steps

The Ice Management Plan may be updated from time to time.

drone image of an ice jam on the lower Humber River
Ice jam on the lower Humber River, February 2018.

 

Flood & Erosion Asset Management Plan

TRCA’s Flood & Erosion Asset Management Plan (AMP) identifies:

  • Asset Inventory: The plan includes a comprehensive list of all flood and erosion control structures owned by TRCA. There are over 800 structures owned by TRCA that provide flood and erosion protection.
  • Levels of Service: TRCA tracks the level of service provided by these flood and erosion control structures to ensure they are performing as designed
  • Asset Management Strategy: The asset management strategy outlines the process of inspecting structures, performing preventative maintenance, and prioritizing and undertaking capital works ensuring the safe operation of these structures.
  • Financial Strategy: The financial strategy component of the AMP summarizes the strategy for obtaining the funding to operate and maintain these structures in a good state of repair

The Flood & Erosion Asset Management Plan may be updated from time to time.

 

Flood & Erosion Infrastructure Operational Plan

TRCA’s Flood & Erosion Infrastructure Operational Plan identifies:

  • The purpose of each structure
  • The operations required to meet the design targets of the structure
  • The maintenance procedures required to ensure the structure is always operable
  • The surveillance that is required to ensure the structure is operating safely and as intended in the original design

The Flood & Erosion Infrastructure Operational Plan may be updated from time to time.

G Ross Lord Dam
TRCA’s flood control infrastructure includes 12 dams, 9 flood control channels, and 6 dikes across the Greater Toronto Area.