Subwatershed Planning Guide

Regulation Number(s):
Instrument Type:
Bill or Act:
Planning Act
Summary of Proposal:
Provincial guidance for integrating watershed and subwatershed planning into land use planning is out of date, with the last guidance published in 1993 by the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks and the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry.

Subwatershed plans reflect the goals of a watershed plan but are tailored to tributary needs and local issues and provide detailed targets and actions on site-specific water resource planning issues.

As specified in provincial policies and plans, watershed/subwatershed planning for land use planning purposes is a responsibility of the planning approval authority, usually a municipality, and often supported by conservation authorities.

While it varies between policies and plans, there are requirements for watershed/subwatershed planning in the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) 2020 and the following provincial land use plans:
A Place to Grow: Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (Growth Plan, 2020)
Greenbelt Plan (2017)
Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan (2017)
Niagara Escarpment Plan (2017)
Lake Simcoe Protection Plan (2009)
Given these many planning documents, this Guide will help provide a consistent, coordinated approach to subwatershed planning.

The proposal provides greater clarity and awareness of the subwatershed planning process and related provincial policy direction and the benefit of having consolidated information readily available for use. The draft Guide is intended to help promote a more consistent subwatershed planning approach across Ontario, leading to better coordinated and more efficient planning processes.

The best practices and practical approaches contained in this proposed Guide are intended to guide subwatershed planning in Ontario. It provides a general framework for subwatershed planning and provides information on:
roles and responsibilities amongst agencies
relationship between watershed and subwatershed planning and land use and infrastructure planning
purpose and principles of subwatershed planning
recommended steps, approach, and best practices for undertaking subwatershed planning
best practices for stakeholder and Indigenous community engagement in the subwatershed planning process
some key technical tools and considerations to support subwatershed planning

This draft Guide was developed with a significant contribution from the Conservation Authorities Working Group.
Analysis of Regulatory Impact:
The proposal does not result in mandatory compliance costs because it is voluntary guidance. The proposal does provide a number of benefits including greater clarity and awareness of provincial policy direction, cost-savings associated with having consolidated information readily available for use, and promoting a more consistent subwatershed planning approach across municipalities.
Further Information:
Proposal Number:
Posting Date:
January 27, 2022
Comments Due Date:
March 13, 2022