Publication Type: Oral PresentationAbstract: A case study on natural heritage planning using an existing policy structure: In Ontario the Planning Act provides the legislative framework which municipalities must adhere to when considering land use change. Under the Act, the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) guides land use planning, including natural heritage. With regard to natural heritage, the PPS prohibits development in significant habitat of endangered and threatened species and provincially significant wetlands, both of which are identified by the Province. The PPS further restricts development from: significant woodlands, significant valleylands, significant wildlife habitat, Areas of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSIs) and fish habitat. With the exception of ANSIs and fish habitat, the identification and designation of these features is the responsibility of the municipality. Lacking in expertise, budget and incentive, municipalities have generally failed (since 1999) to identify and designate, and thereby protect, these features.
As a public agency and municipal partner, the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority identified a natural heritage system, comprised of the elements identified in the PPS. This is arguably the first time that all PPS features have been explicitly identified as part of a natural heritage system for adoption by municipal Official Plans in the Province.
The document: A Natural Heritage System for the Lake Simcoe Watershed, Phase 1: Components & Policy Templates, identifies criteria for each of the features, as well as mapping and a policy template. The four-tiered framework is based upon the policy requirements of the PPS.