The Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan (ORMCP) requires all upper- and single-tier municipalities to prepare a watershed plan for every watershed whose streams originate on the moraine within their jurisdictions. Without a completed watershed plan, no major development commencing after April 23, 2007 can be approved. The ORMCP defines major development as the creation of four or more lots, major recreational use, or a building/ buildings with a ‘footprint’ of 500 m2 (~ 5,445 ft2).
Requests for extension were submitted to the province in early 2007 by the Regions of Peel, York and Durham and the County of Simcoe. No requests were made by the City of Kawartha Lakes, Peterborough County or the five lower-tier municipalities in Northumberland County.
No provincial responses to municipal requests for extension have been received, and as such planning implications are unknown. Because Peterborough County, City of Kawartha Lakes and the lower-tier municipalities within Northumberland County have not requested an extension for developing watershed plans, it can be inferred they have no plans for major development in the near future, and thus believe watershed plans to be unnecessary. It should be noted that this precludes approval for construction of a building or buildings with ground floor areas of greater than 500 m2.
The 2007 Status Report updates the 2006 watershed plan information using the same categories:
Phase 1 - characterization of the watershed including initiation of water budgets
Phase 2 - impact assessment stage
Phases 3 and 4 - implementation and monitoring
These categories are by necessity broadly defined to provide an overview and thus do not reflect specific variations.
(York, Peel, Simcoe)
Good progress has been made over the past year with a majority of plans now at phases 3 and 4. Several of these, including the draft watershed plans for the East Credit, Don and Rouge Rivers and Duffins Creek, have completed an ORMCP conformity assessment and are now used in the review of major development proposals. The one exception is the very small portion of the upper reaches of the Nottawasaga River, for which no plan has been initiated.
(Durham, Kawartha Lakes)
There has been progress made over the past year in the central region of the moraine, with most of the south flowing watersheds at phase 2. The Oshawa Creek plan, completed in 2002, will be reviewed in 2008 to assess its conformity. No progress has been made in north-flowing watersheds since 2006.
No change from 2006 Status Report; all watersheds in either phase 1 or not yet started.
Photo: Mark Carroll
In most cases, municipalities have contracted conservation authorities to provide the technical expertise for watershed plan development. Technical guidelines, developed by the Ministry of the Environment, provide a common framework for plan preparation. However, there appear to be degrees of variability between regional approaches to meeting the conformity requirements of the ORMCP. More research is required to fully understand the implications on land use approvals.
Many municipalities across the moraine have legitimate complaints about the lack of provincial funding to help with the technical and logistical aspects of conformity, including preparation of watershed plans. This is particularly true in the eastern moraine, whereby necessity, watershed-based technical work may have to be funded through the provincial Source Protection Program (SPP). While this could be considered an innovative way to deal with budget shortfalls, there are a number of problems which include: SPP funding is tightly tied to identified source protection areas associated with drinking water supplies and not the entire watershed, and; serious delays in meeting ORMCP requirements for watershed plan completion will further limit municipal activities.
Recommendation: That the province, through the Ministries of the Environment and/or Natural Resources, ensure that appropriate funding be provided to municipalities to undertake the necessary technical work to complete watershed plans as required under the ORMCP.
Recommendation: That the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing and the Ministry of the Environment ensure congruency between technical requirements for developing watershed plans under the ORMCP and the development of Source Protection Plans.
According to section 42 of the ORMCP, all official plans were required to contain wellhead protection policies by April 23, 2007. The intent of these policies is to restrict certain activities in municipal wellhead areas and identify zones of contribution corresponding to 0-2, 2-10 and 10-25 years of time travel.
Information from the 2006 Status Report has been updated for the current report. Despite provincial sign-off on all upper-tier official plans, a number still have only partial or interim wellhead protection policies in place.
Peterborough devolved responsibility to Cavan-Millbrook-North Monaghan, which has no policies for the municipal well serving Millbrook. According to Municipal Affairs and Housing, none of the municipalities that lie within Northumberland County have moraine wellheads.
(Durham, Kawartha Lakes)
The City of Kawartha Lakes has a municipal wellhead within moraine lands and draft policies identifying zones of protection are included in the City's proposed new official plan. Durham Region has completed the necessary technical work and supporting policies, however Official Plan Amendment 114 is currently under appeal. Within Durham, data show that Uxbridge is the only moraine munipalility with wellheads.
(York, Peel, Simcoe)
Within the Region of York, it appears that all municipalities with wellheads (King, Whitchurch-Stouffville, Newmarket, East Gwillimbury and Aurora) have identified wellhead protection areas; Vaughan, Richmond Hill and Markham report no municipal wellheads on the moraine. Peel and Simcoe have wellhead protection policies, as do the municipalities of Caledon, New Tecumseth and Adjala-Tosorontio. Mono Township (Dufferin County) has no moraine wellheads.