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Adjacent lands:
means those lands, contiguous to a specific natural heritage feature or area, where it is likely that development or site alteration would have a negative impact on the feature or area. The extent of the adjacent lands may be recommended by the Province or based on municipal approaches which achieve the same objectives.

Adverse effects:
as defined in the Environmental Protection Act, means one or more of:

  • impairment of the quality of the natural environment for any use that can be made of it;
  • injury or damage to property or plant and animal life;
  • harm or material discomfort to any person;
  • an adverse effect on the health of any person;
  • impairment of the safety of any person;
  • rendering any property or plant or animal life unfit for use by humans;
  • loss of enjoyment of normal use of property; and
  • interference with normal conduct of business.

Agricultural uses:
means the growing of crops, including nursery and horticultural crops; raising of livestock and other animals for food, or fur, including poultry and fish; aquaculture; agro-forestry; maple syrup production; and associated on-farm buildings and structures.

Agriculture-related uses:
means those farm related commercial and farm-related industrial uses that are small scale and directly related to the farm operation and are required in close proximity to the farm operation.

means all Ontario airports, including designated lands for future airports, with Noise Exposure Forecast (NEF)/Noise Exposure Projection (NEP) mapping.

Areas of archaeological potential:
means areas with medium or high potential for the discovery of archaeological resources. This potential is based on the presence of a wide range of geographic and historical features which influenced past settlement. Archaeological potential is confirmed through archaeological assessment.

Areas of mineral potential:
means areas favourable to the discovery of mineral deposits due to geology, the presence of known mineral deposits or other technical evidence. Areas of mineral potential are identified using accepted scientific methodology.

Areas of natural and scientific interest (ANSI):
means areas of land and water containing natural landscapes or features that have been identified as having life science or earth science values related to protection, scientific study, or education.

Built heritage resources:
means one or more buildings, structures, monuments, installations, or remains associated with architectural, cultural, social, political, economic, or military history, and identified as being important to a community.

Cultural heritage landscape:
means a defined geographical area of heritage significance which has been modified by human activities. Such an area is valued by a community, and is of significance to the understanding of the history of a people or place.

Defined portions of a dynamic beach:
means those portions of the dynamic beach which are highly unstable and/or critical to the natural protection and maintenance of the first main dune feature and/or beach profile, where any development or site alteration would create or aggravate flooding or erosion hazards, cause updrift and/or downdrift impacts and/or cause adverse environmental impacts.

Defined portions of the one hundred year flood level along connecting channels:
means those areas which are critical to the conveyance of the flows associated with the one hundred year flood level along the St. Mary's, St. Clair, Detroit, Niagara and St. Lawrence Rivers, where development or site alteration will create flooding hazards, cause updrift and/or downdrift impacts and/or cause adverse environmental impacts.

Deposits of mineral aggregates:
means an area of identified mineral aggregates that has a sufficient quantity and quality to warrant present or future extraction.

Designated and available:
means, for the purposes of Policy 1.2.1a), designated in the official plan for urban residential use. For municipalities where more detailed official plan policies (eg. secondary plans) are required before development applications can be considered for approval, only lands that have at least begun the more detailed planning process are considered to be designated for the purposes of this definition.

means the creation of a new lot, a change in land use, or the construction of buildings and structures, requiring approval under the Planning Act; but does not include activities that create or maintain infrastructure authorized under an environmental assessment process; or works subject to the Drainage Act.

Dynamic beach:
means areas of inherently unstable accumulations of shoreline sediments along the Great Lakes- St. Lawrence River System and large inland lakes. The dynamic beach hazard limit includes the flooding hazard limit plus a dynamic beach allowance.

Ecological functions:
means the natural processes, products or services that living and non-living environments provide or perform within or between species, ecosystems and landscapes. These may include biological, physical and socio-economic interactions.

Endangered species:
means any native species, as listed in the Regulations under the Endangered Species Act, that is at risk of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its Ontario range if the limiting factors are not reversed.

Erosion hazards:
means the loss of land, due to human or natural processes, that poses a threat to life and property. The erosion hazard limit is determined using the 100 year erosion rate (the average annual rate of recession extended over a hundred year time span), an allowance for slope stability, and an erosion allowance.

Essential emergency services:
means services such as those provided by fire, police and ambulance stations and electrical substations, which would be impaired during an emergency as a result of flooding, the failure of floodproofing measures and/or protection works, and/or erosion.

Established standards and procedures:
means the following:

  • Floodproofing standard, which means the combination of measures incorporated into the basic design and/or construction of buildings, structures, or properties to reduce or eliminate flooding, wave uprush and other water related hazards along the shorelines of the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence River System and large inland lakes, and flooding along river and stream systems.
  • Protection works standard, which means the combination of non-structural or structural works and allowances for slope stability and flooding/erosion to reduce the damages caused by flooding, erosion, and other water related hazards, and to allow access for their maintenance and repair.
  • Access standard, which means a method or procedure to ensure safe vehicular and pedestrian movement, and access for the maintenance and repair of protection works, during times of flooding, erosion and/or other water related hazards.

Farm retirement lot:
means one lot from a farm operation for a full time farmer of retirement age who is retiring from active working life, was farming on January 1, 1994 or an earlier date set out in an existing official plan, and has owned and operated the farm operation for a substantial number of years.

means fish, shellfish, crustaceans, and marine animals, at all stages of their life cycles.

Fish habitat:
means the spawning grounds and nursery, rearing, food supply, and migration areas on which fish depend directly or indirectly in order to carry out their life processes.

Flood fringe (for river and stream systems):
means the outer portion of the flood plain between the floodway and the flooding hazard limit. Depths and velocities of flooding are generally less severe in the flood fringe than those experienced in the floodway. The flood fringe is the area where development and site alteration may be permitted, subject to appropriate floodproofing to the flooding hazard elevation or another flooding hazard standard approved by the Ministry of Natural Resources.

Flood plain (for river and stream systems):
means the area, usually low lands adjoining a watercourse, which has been or may be subject to flooding hazards.

Flooding hazards:
means the inundation, under the conditions specified below, of areas adjacent to a shoreline or a river or stream system and not ordinarily covered by water:

  1. Along the shorelines of the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence River System and large inland lakes, the flooding hazard limit is based on the 100 year flood level plus an allowance for wave uprush and other water related hazards.
  2. Along river and stream systems, the flooding hazard limit is the greater of:
    1. the flood resulting from the rainfall actually experienced during a major storm such as the Hurricane Hazel storm (1954) or the Timmins Storm (1961), transposed over a specific watershed and combined with the local conditions, where evidence suggests that the storm event could have potentially occurred over watersheds in the general area;
    2. the one hundred year flood; or
    3. a flood which is greater than 1) or 2) which was actually experienced in a particular watershed or portion thereof as a result of ice jams and which has been approved as the standard for that specific area by the Minister of Natural Resources.

    except where the use of the one hundred year flood or actually experienced event as the standard for a specific watershed has been approved by the Minister of Natural Resources (where the past history of flooding supports the lowering of the standard).

Floodway (for river and stream systems):
means the portion of the flood plain where development (other than uses which by their nature must be located within the floodway, flood and/or erosion control works, or where appropriate, minor additions or passive, non- structural uses which do not affect flood flows) and site alteration would cause a danger to public health and safety or property damage.
Where the one zone concept is applied, the floodway is the entire flood plain.
Where the two zone concept is applied, the floodway is the inner portion of the flood plain, representing that area required for the safe passage of flood flow and/or that area where flood depths and/or velocities are considered to be such that they pose a potential threat to life and/or property damage. Where the two zone concept applies, the outer portion of the flood plain is called the flood fringe.

Great Lakes - St. Lawrence River System:
means the major water system consisting of Lakes Superior, Huron, St. Clair, Erie and Ontario and their connecting channels, and the St. Lawrence River within the boundaries of the Province of Ontario.

Hazardous lands:
means property or lands that could be unsafe for development due to naturally occurring processes. Along the shorelines of the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence River System, this means the land, including that covered by water, between the international boundary, where applicable, and the furthest landward limit of the flooding, erosion or dynamic beach hazard limits. Along the shorelines of large inland lakes, this means the land, including that covered by water, between a defined offshore distance or depth and the furthest landward limit of the flooding, erosion or dynamic beach hazard limits. Along river and stream systems, this means the land, including that covered by water, to the furthest landward limit of the flooding or erosion hazard limits.

Hazardous sites:
means property or lands that could be unsafe for development and site alteration due to naturally occurring hazards. These may include unstable soils (sensitive marine clays [leda], organic soils) or unstable bedrock (karst topography).

Hazardous substances:
means substances which, individually, or in combination with other substances, are normally considered to pose a danger to public health, safety and the environment. These substances generally include a wide array of materials that are toxic, ignitable, corrosive, reactive, radioactive or pathological.

Housing market area:
refers to an area, generally broader than a lower tier municipality, that has a high degree of social and economic interaction. In southern Ontario, the county or regional municipality will normally serve as the housing market area. Where a housing market area extends significantly beyond county or regional boundaries, it may include a combination of counties and/or regional municipalities.

means physical structures that form the foundation for development. Infrastructure includes: sewage and water works, waste management systems, electric power, communications, transit and transportation corridors and facilities, and oil and gas pipelines and associated facilities.

Institutional uses:
means those uses, associated with hospitals, nursing homes, pre-school, school nurseries, day care and schools, where there is a threat to the safe evacuation of the sick, the elderly, the physically challenged or the young during an emergency as a result of flooding, failure of floodproofing measures or protection works, or erosion.

Large inland lakes:
means those waterbodies having a surface area of equal to or greater than 100 square kilometres where there is not a measurable or predictable response to a single runoff event.

Mine hazards:
means any feature of a mine as defined under the Mining Act or any related disturbance of the ground that has not been rehabilitated.

Mineral aggregate:
means gravel, sand, clay, earth, shale, stone, limestone, dolostone, sandstone, marble, granite, rock or other material prescribed under the Aggregate Resources Act suitable for construction, industrial, manufacturing and maintenance purposes but does not include metallic ores, asbestos, graphite, kyanite, mica, nepheline syenite, salt, talc, wollastonite, mine tailings or other material prescribed under the Mining Act.

Mineral deposits:
means an unusually large or rich concentration of valuable minerals identified within a small part of the Earth's crust.

Mineral aggregate operation:

  1. lands under license or permit, other than for a wayside pit or quarry, issued in accordance with the Aggregate Resources Act, or successors thereto;
  2. for lands not designated under the Aggregate Resources Act, established pits and quarries that are not in contravention of municipal zoning by-laws and including adjacent land under agreement with or owned by the operator, to permit continuation of the operation; and
  3. associated facilities used in extraction, transport, beneficiation, processing or recycling of mineral aggregate, or the production of secondary related products.

Mineral mining operation:
means mining operations and associated facilities, or, past producing mines with remaining mineral development potential that have not been permanently rehabilitated to another use.

means metallic minerals and non-metallic minerals as herein defined, but does not include mineral aggregates or petroleum resources.
Metallic minerals means those minerals from which metals (e.g. copper, nickel, gold) are derived.
Non-metallic minerals means those minerals that are of value for intrinsic properties of the minerals themselves and not as a source of metal. They are generally synonymous with industrial minerals (e.g. asbestos, graphite, kyanite, mica, nepheline syenite, salt, talc, and wollastonite).

Minimum distance separation formulae:
means formulae developed by the Province to separate uses so as to reduce incompatibility concerns about odour from livestock facilities.

Multi-modal transportation system:
means a transportation system which may include several forms of transportation such as automobiles, walking, truck, cycling, bus, rapid transit and rail.

Natural heritage features and areas:
means features and areas, such as significant wetlands, fish habitat, significant woodlands south and east of the Canadian Shield, significant valleylands south and east of the Canadian Shield, significant portions of the habitat of endangered and threatened species, significant wildlife habitat, and significant areas of natural and scientific interest, which are important for their environmental and social values as a legacy of the natural landscapes of an area.

Negative impacts:

  1. in regard to fish habitat, the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat, except where it has been authorized under the Fisheries Act, using the guiding principle of no net loss of productive capacity.
  2. in regard to other natural heritage features and areas, the loss of the natural features or ecological functions for which an area is identified.

One hundred year flood (for river and stream systems):
means that flood, based on an analysis of precipitation, snow melt, or a combination thereof, having a return period of 100 years on average, or having a 1% chance of occurring or being exceeded in any given year.
One hundred year flood level:

  • for the shorelines of the Great Lakes, the peak instantaneous stillwater level, resulting from combinations of mean monthly lake levels and wind setups, which has a 1% chance of being equalled or exceeded in any given year.
  • in the connecting channels (St. Mary's, St. Clair, Detroit, Niagara and St. Lawrence Rivers), the peak instantaneous stillwater level which has a 1% chance of being equalled or exceeded in any given year.
  • for large inland lakes, lake levels and wind setups that have a 1% chance of being equalled or exceeded in any given year, except that, where sufficient water level records do not exist, the one hundred year flood level is based on the highest known water level and wind setups.

Other water-related hazards:
means water-associated phenomena other than flooding and wave uprush which act on shorelines. This includes, but is not limited to ice, ice piling and ice jamming.

Petroleum resource operations:
means oil, gas and brine wells, and associated facilities, oil field brine disposal wells and associated facilities, and facilities for the underground storage of natural gas and other hydrocarbons.

Petroleum resources:
means oil, gas, and brine resources which have been identified through exploration and verified by preliminary drilling or other forms of investigation. This may include sites of former operations where resources are still present or former sites that may be converted to underground storage for natural gas or other hydrocarbons.

Portable asphalt plant:
means a facility:

  1. with equipment designed to heat and dry aggregate and to mix aggregate with bituminous asphalt to produce asphalt paving material, and includes stockpiling and storage of bulk materials used in the process;
  2. which is not of permanent construction, but which is to be dismantled at the completion of the construction project.

Prime agricultural area:
means an area where prime agricultural land predominates. Prime agricultural areas may also be identified through an alternative agricultural land evaluation system approved by the Province.

Prime agricultural land:
means land that includes specialty crop lands and/or Canada Land Inventory Classes 1, 2, and 3 soils, in this order of priority for protection.

Public service facilities:
means land, buildings and structures for the provision of public services, but does not include infrastructure.

Public services:
means programs and services provided or subsidized by a government or other public body. Examples include social assistance, recreation, police and fire protection, health and educational programs, and cultural services.

Quality and quantity (of water):
is measured by indicators such as minimum base flow, oxygen levels, suspended solids, temperature, bacteria, nutrients, hazardous contaminants, and hydrologic regime.

Reserve water and sewage plant capacity:
means design capacity in a centralized water and waste water treatment facility which is not yet committed to existing or approved development.

Residence surplus to a farming operation:
means one of two or more existing farm residences built prior to 1978 and surplus to the farm, or an existing farm residence that is rendered surplus as a result of farm consolidation (farm consolidation means the acquisition of additional farm parcels to be operated as one farm operation).

Residential infilling:
means the creation of a residential lot between two existing non-farm residences which are on separated lots of a similar size and which are situated on the same side of a road and are not more than 100 metres apart.

Residential intensification:
means the creation of new residential units or accommodation in existing buildings or on previously developed, serviced land and includes infill, accessory apartments and rooming houses.

River and stream systems:
means all watercourses, rivers, streams, and small inland lakes or waterbodies that have a measurable or predictable response to a single runoff event.

Rural areas:
means lands in the rural area which are not prime agricultural areas.

Secondary uses:
means uses secondary to the principal use of the property, including home occupations, home industries, and uses that produce value-added agricultural products from the farm operation on the property.

Sensitive land uses:
means buildings, amenity areas, or outdoor spaces where routine or normal activities occurring at reasonably expected times would experience one or more adverse effects from contaminant discharges generated by a nearby major facility. Sensitive land uses may be a part of the natural or built environment. Examples include: residences, day care centres, and educational and health facilities.

Sewage and water systems:
Full municipal sewage and water services:
means piped sewage and water services that are connected to a centralized water and waste water treatment facility.

Communal services:
means sewage works and sewage systems, and water works that provide for the distribution, collection or treatment of sewage or water but which:

  • are not connected to full municipal sewage and water services;
  • are for the common use of more than five residential units/lots; and
  • are owned, operated, and managed by:
  • the municipality; or
  • another public body; or
  • a condominium corporation or single owner which has entered into an agreement with the municipality or public body, pursuant to Section 51 of the Planning Act, providing for municipal/public body assumption of the communal services in the event of default by the owner.

Individual on-site systems:
means individual autonomous water supply and sewage disposal systems, that are owned, operated and managed by the owner of the property upon which the system is located and which do not serve more than five residential units/lots.

Partial services:
means connection to one communal service or full municipal service where the other connection will be to an individual on-site system.


  • in regard to wetlands and areas of natural and scientific interest, an area identified as provincially significant by the Ministry of Natural Resources using evaluation procedures established by the province, as amended from time to time.
  • in regard to other features and areas in policy 2.3, ecologically important in terms of features, functions, representation or amount, and contributing to the quality and diversity of an identifiable geographic area or natural heritage system. Criteria for determining significance may be recommended by the Province, but municipal approaches that achieve the same objective may also be used.
  • in regard to other matters, important in terms of amount, content, representation or effect.

Significant archaeological resources:
means the remains of any building, structure, activity, place or cultural feature, which because of the passage of time is on or below the surface of the land or water, and which has been identified and evaluated and determined to be significant to the understanding of the history of a people or place. The identification and evaluation of this resource is based upon an archaeological assessment.

Site alteration:
means activities, such as fill, grading and excavation, that would change the landform and natural vegetative characteristics of a site.

Special policy area:
means an area within a community that has historically existed in the flood plain and where site specific policies, approved by the Ministers of Natural Resources and Municipal Affairs and Housing, are intended to address the significant social and economic hardships to the community that would result from strict adherence to provincial policies concerning development.

Specialty crop land:
means areas where specialty crops such as tender fruits (peaches, cherries, plums), grapes, other fruit crops, vegetable crops, greenhouse crops, and crops from agriculturally developed organic soil lands are predominantly grown, usually resulting from:

  • soils that have suitability to produce specialty crops, or lands that are subject to special climatic conditions, or a combination of both; and/or
  • a combination of farmers skilled in the production of specialty crops, and of capital investment in related facilities and services to produce, store, or process specialty crops.

Threatened species:
means any native species that is at risk of becoming endangered through all or a portion of its Ontario range if the limiting factors are not reversed.

means a natural area that occurs in a valley or other landform depression that has water flowing through or standing for some period of the year.

Waste management system:
means sites and facilities to accommodate solid waste from one or more municipalities and includes landfill sites, recycling facilities, transfer stations, processing sites and hazardous waste depots.

Wave uprush:
means the rush of water up onto a shoreline or structure following the breaking of a wave; the limit of wave uprush is the point of furthest landward rush of water onto the shoreline.

Wayside pits and quarries:
means a temporary pit or quarry opened and used by or for a public authority solely for the purpose of a particular project or contract of road construction and not located on the road right of way.

means lands that are seasonally or permanently covered by shallow water, as well as lands where the water table is close to or at the surface. In either case the presence of abundant water has caused the formation of hydric soils and has favoured the dominance of either hydrophytic plants or water tolerant plants. The four major types of wetlands are swamps, marshes, bogs and fens.
Periodically soaked or wet lands being used for agricultural purposes which no longer exhibit wetland characteristics are not considered to be wetlands for the purposes of this definition.

Wildlife habitat:
means areas where plants, animals and other organisms live, and find adequate amounts of food, water, shelter and space needed to sustain their populations. Specific wildlife habitats of concern may include areas where species concentrate at a vulnerable point in their annual or life cycle; and areas which are important to migratory or non-migratory species.

means treed areas that provide environmental and economic benefits such as erosion prevention, water retention, provision of habitat, recreation and the sustainable harvest of woodland products. Woodlands include treed areas, woodlots or forested areas and vary in their level of significance.

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