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Regulation for Development, Interference with Wetlands, and Alterations to Shorelines and Watercourses

If you have purchased a rural property which includes a wetland, don’t assume that this area is good for nothing. Your wetland is providing tremendous unseen benefits, and not just for turtles and ducks. Wetlands help filter pollutants and keep our water clean. Because they hold water like sponges, they help with storage, control flooding and prevent soil erosion. Local climate conditions are stabilized by wetlands. They provide crucial habitat for many species.

Wetlands have different functions as a result of their position in the landscape and their dominant water source so understanding your wetland within the bigger picture is important. Many of them have never been formally assessed. Yours might be the only one in the area or provide an important connection so you’ll want to know exactly what you’ve got. If you happen to have a “provincially significant” wetland on your property, you could even be eligible for a property tax reduction. Read more about how wetlands are evaluated.

In the past, decisions to alter wetlands have often been made without consideration for the long term. As a result, approximately 70 percent of the wetlands in southern Ontario have been lost to development or agriculture.

Previous owners may have tampered with your natural wetland but there are ways you can restore and even enhance a wetland to ensure that you get all the wonderful benefits it provides. Check out our webpage about Enhancing Wetland Habitat. You can learn what type of wetland you have, which wildlife typically inhabit it and begin to create a nature sanctuary on your property.

Before you begin any work in a shoreline area, you will need to check with your local conservation authority to see if a permit is required. If your watershed is not managed by a conservation authority, check with your local Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry office. Waterfront properties along the Rideau or Trent-Severn waterways fall under the jurisdiction of Parks Canada.

Waterfront activities requiring a permit include:

  • Construction of any kind
  • Altering a structure
  • Removing or dumping any material
  • Altering a watercourse
  • Altering a Provincially Significant Wetland (or adjacent lands)

For more detailed information, please read this brochure published by Conservation Ontario.

Protecting Fish Habitat is an extension note which explains safe ways to work along your waterfront. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans provides information related to the Canada Fisheries Act and the protection of fish habitat.

Your local conservation authority can be found on the Conservation Ontario website.

Your local Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry office can be found on the MNRF website. The Ontario government has several pieces of legislation that regulate work around water. You can find information on their website.

This project was undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada. | Ce projet a été réalisé avec l’appui financier du gouvernement du Canada.

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