The Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA), together with all of Ontario’s 36 conservation authorities, are implementing a Service Delivery and Streamlining Initiative to provide a consistent client-centric process for planning and development reviews, permits and approvals.

ERCA ensures that lives and properties are safe from the risks posed by flooding, erosion and other natural hazards. This is done by administering a provincial regulation made under Section 28 of the Conservation Authorities Act: Development, Interference with Wetlands and Alterations to Shorelines and Watercourses (Ontario Regulation 158/06). This key tool regulates development in areas where the control of flooding, erosion, dynamic beaches, pollution or the conservation of land may be affected by development.

The following documents and tools are provided to aid understanding of our planning and development services.

Customer Service Standards

ERCA aims to provide a high standard of effective and efficient service to all of our clients/customers. Our Customer Service Policy, endorsed by the Board on September 12, 2019, explains our commitment to service.

Fees Policy

Fees for service are approved annually by the ERCA Board of Directors. Our Fee Policy is based on three principles: user-pay, adequate consultation and notification, and right to appeal.  For more information, visit our Fees Schedule.

Municipal Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) / Plan Review Agreements

Conservation Authorities are involved in plan input and review of planning applications under the Planning Act in four ways:

  1. As an agency with provincially delegated responsibility for the natural hazard policies of the Provincial Policy Statement, 2014 (PPS);
  2. As a municipal technical advisor,
  3. As a public body and
  4. As landowners.

Since 2020, Conservation Authorities have been required or permitted to provide programs and services as follows:

  1. Mandatory programs and services that are required by regulation;
  2. Municipal programs and services that the authority agrees to provide on behalf of municipalities situated in whole or in part within its area of jurisdiction under a memorandum of understanding; and
  3. Such other programs and services as the authority may determine are advisable to further its objects.

Changes to the Conservation Authorities Act in 2017 and 2019 included changes to the legislation related to how these programs are reflected through agreements. Upon proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor, S. 21.1 of the Conservation Authorities Act will be amended to include, among other changes, S. 21.1.1.(1) (Municipal programs and services) that enables a CA to provide within its area of jurisdiction municipal programs and services that the authority agrees to provide on behalf of a municipality situated in whole or in part within its area of jurisdiction under a memorandum of understanding or such other agreement as may be entered into with the municipality in respect of the programs and services.

Conservation Authorities are involved in plan input and review of planning applications under the Planning Act as an agency with provincially delegated responsibility for the natural hazards; as a municipal technical advisor; as a public body and as a landowner. CAs deliver these responsibilities through memorandums of understanding for plan review and technical clearance services. ERCA will be working with all municipalities to update MOUs based on new guidelines developed by Conservation Authorities and Conservation Ontario, and does have an MOU in place with the Township of Pelee. For more information, visit the Plan Review section of the website.

Plan Review and Regulation Approvals Policies/Guidelines

Essex Region Conservation Authority Policies, Guidelines and Procedures for Fill, Construction and Alteration to Waterways Regulations and Review of Planning Documents and Development Proposals (December 1987) provides our comprehensive policies and procedures for plan review and permitting activities. Since 1987, a number of amended policies have been approved, the most recent Transitional Regulations, 2011 .

The Place for Life Policies’ were initiated to comprehensively reflect plan review and permitting processes in the region, and integrate related policies associated with other ERCA programs and services. A draft of the Policies was developed in 2017, and consultations were initiated. Presently, these draft Policies are under review to ensure consistency with recent changes to the Conservation Authorities Act (2017, 2019), current provincial direction and best practices as outlined in Conservation Ontario endorsed “Client Service Standards for Conservation Authority Plan and Permit Review”.

Complete Application Requirements

When a permit application is submitted, ERCA staff will determine if the application is considered complete.

To appropriately assess the technical aspects of a proposal against the tests outlined in Ontario Regulation 158/06, the submission must include the Mandatory Application Requirements, and there may be additional Potential Technical Requirements required to assess the application. The scale, location, and complexity of a proposal and type of feature and or hazard existing typically dictates which additional information will be required in support of an application. The level of detail required for studies and reports can vary widely depending on the property and the proposal.  In some situations, a single-page letter from a qualified expert will be sufficient, while in other cases a major study will be necessary. ERCA can assist in determining the level of scope required for technical reports. To ensure your application can move forward in the process, please review the Complete Application Requirements before submitting your Permit Application.

Map Your Property

Our searchable Interactive Mapping Tool will help you learn if all or part of your property is regulated. It is important to recognize that the mapping is for information screening purposes only and shows the approximate regulation limits under the Regulation. Confirmation of actual boundaries of the Limit of Regulated Area would need to be field verified by ERCA staff to ensure compliance with the regulations as further detailed in the “Determination of Regulation Limits”.

Sample Application Package for Permits

A Sample Application Package for Permits can be used as an example to guide your application completion.

Annual Report on Review Timelines

As an accountable and transparent organization, ERCA produces a publicly accessible Annual Report, which includes average review timelines.