Environmental data, policies, reports and strategies
The City of Ottawa develops and implements a range of strategies, policies and programs to protect ecosystems and reduce pollution, resource use, and energy consumption. Links to this information on Ottawa.ca are provided below.
By-laws & Regulations
- Anti-Idling By-law
- Sewer Use By-law
- Site Alteration By-law
- Solid Waste By-law
- Tree Protection By-law
- Water By-law
- Beach Water Sampling Data
- Water Quality - Baseline Water Monitoring Program
- Drinking Water Summary Data (Purification Plants)
- Drinking Water Summary Data (Communal Wells)
- Climate Change Master Plan
- Biosolids Management Plan
- Choosing our Future - Long Term Plans
- Energy Conservation and Demand Management Plan 2015
- Green Municipal Fleet Plan
- Ottawa River Action Plan
- Urban Forest Management Plan
- Water Efficiency Plan
- Waste Plan
Policies, Strategies, and Studies
- Adaptive Approaches in Stormwater Management Plan
- Bird Safe Design Guidelines
- Green Building Policy
- High Performance Development Standards
- Old Landfill Management Strategy
- Ottawa Wildlife Strategy
- Significant Woodlands
- Subwatershed Studies
- Transit Vehicle Emissions Reduction Strategy
- Water Efficiency Strategy
- Water Environment Strategy
- Apartment & Multi-Residential Program
- Biosolids Program
- Brownfields Redevelopment Program
- Community Environmental Projects Grants Program
- Flusher Hydrant Program
- Green Bins in School Program
- Household Hazardous Waste Program
- Rural Clean Water Grants Program
- Sewer-use Program
- Special Consideration Program
- Take it Back! Program
- Tree Conservation Report
- Tree Information Report
- Tree planting programs
Site Alteration By-law
The Site Alteration By-law was approved by Ottawa City Council on May 9, 2018, in order to regulate site alteration activities such as placing or dumping fill, removing topsoil, clearing or stripping vegetation, and altering the grade of land. In general, all lands within the City of Ottawa are subject to the by-law, except for lands that are already regulated by a Conservation Authority (e.g., floodplains, rivers and creeks, or in and around significant wetlands).
The by-law is intended to:
- Prevent drainage problems
- Protect the productivity of soils in areas designated in Ottawa’s Official Plan as Agricultural Resource Areas
- Protect designated natural areas and other natural heritage features (such as significant woodlands and valleylands) identified in Ottawa’s Official Plan in and around the urban area from negative impacts
- Establish basic rules and practices to avoid impacts to neighbours and the environment during site alteration
In most cases, residents do not need the City’s approval before beginning site alteration, but they must follow the rules in the by-law. Ottawa’s basic rules for site alteration can be summarised as follows:
- Do not work on someone else’s property without their permission.
- Do not cause drainage problems for your neighbours.
- Follow all other applicable municipal, provincial and federal rules.
- Do not damage the productivity of soils in areas designated for agricultural use.
- Get City approval before working in or within 30 m of significant natural areas in the area shown on Schedule B in the by-law.
- Notify your neighbour(s) if you will be working within 10 metres of your property boundary.
- Notify your City planner before working on a site during the development review process.
- Control sediment and erosion, where necessary.
- Fence off or otherwise limit your work area, where necessary, to prevent accidental damage to nearby trees, structures or properties.
- Use clean fill.
Rules 1, 2 and 3 apply to everyone. There are exceptions to several of the other rules for yard maintenance, landscaping, farming, woodlot management, and approved developments. Additional information is provided below to help residents understand how the by-law affects them.
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Understanding the Rules for Site Alteration
Rule #1: Do not work on someone else’s property without their permission.
If you are not sure where your property line is, refer to your property survey or contact a professional surveyor.
Rule #2: Do not cause drainage problems for your neighbours.
All residents need to be aware that changes to the surface of a property can affect the way water drains across it. It’s important to be aware of local drainage patterns around your home, your property and your neighbourhood. For example, installing a patio, a pool or even a garden bed may change the way rainwater moves across your land and your neighbour’s. Under the by-law, if your project affects the movement of water so that your neighbour’s property no longer drains properly, then you may be required to fix the problem.
Roadside ditches and municipal drains are vital parts of the City’s infrastructure and should not be altered, except through the appropriate process (see Ditch Alteration Policy or Ditches and Drains for more information). Rivers, creeks and many other watercourses are regulated by the Conservation Authorities and cannot be altered without a permit. Contact your local Conservation Authority for advice before beginning any work near a watercourse.
Rule #3: Follow all other applicable municipal, provincial and federal rules.
Here is a list of commonly applicable rules that you should be aware of:
Building By-law (enables the City to administer and enforce the provincial Building Code Act; includes specifications for construction fencing where required)
Fence By-law (regulates the erection, maintenance, and repair of fences)
Noise By-law (regulates noise levels, including limits on timing of work with power tools)
Pool Enclosure By-law (regulates fencing requirements for swimming pools)
Private Approach By-law (regulates construction of private driveways or access lanes connecting to City roads)
Sewer Use By-law (limits what is allowed into City sewers or ditch systems)
Use and Care of Roads By-law (regulates use of City roads, including use and maintenance of boulevards by adjacent landowners)
Zoning By-law (establishes specific land uses, as well as yard setbacks for structures and permitted lot coverage)
Building Code Act (administered by the City; regulates the design and construction of buildings, additions, decks, septic systems)
Drainage Act (regulates municipal drains)
Endangered Species Act (protects endangered or threatened species and their habitat)
Environmental Protection Act (regulates waste disposal and protects quality of air, water, and soil)
Fish & Wildlife Conservation Act (regulates hunting and fishing, protects wildlife)
Ontario Heritage Act (protects heritage properties and archaeological resources)
Public Lands Act (regulates work in or along shorelines of lakes, rivers and streams owned by the Crown, other than the federally regulated Rideau Canal waterway)
Department of Transport Act – Historic Canals Regulations (regulate works in or along shoreline of Rideau Canal waterway)
Fisheries Act (protects fish and fish habitat)
Migratory Birds Convention Act (protects migratory birds and their nests)
Navigation Protection Act (protects navigable waterways)
Rule #4: Do not damage the productivity of soils in areas designated for agricultural use.
Certain lands in the rural area and in the Greenbelt have been designated as Agricultural Resource Areas on Schedules B, C11 and C12 of the Official Plan. These lands have productive soils and are intended for farming. To help protect these soils, the by-law prohibits the removal of topsoil or any other activities that would reduce their agricultural productivity. Exceptions are provided for normal activities in these areas such as farming, approved developments and yard maintenance.
Rule #5: Get City approval before working in or within 30 m of significant natural areas in the area shown on Schedule B of the by-law.
This rule only applies to part of the City, shown on a map in the by-law (Schedule B). Certain woodlands and other natural areas within the City have been identified as provincially or locally significant. Many of these areas are designated as Natural Environment Areas, Urban Natural Features, or Rural Natural Features on Schedules A or B of the Official Plan. Other areas have been identified as part of the Natural Heritage System Overlay (Schedules C11A, C11B and C11C in the Official Plan). To avoid or reduce negative impacts on these environmentally sensitive areas, the by-law requires landowners to consult with the City’s Planning staff and obtain the City’s approval before undertaking site alteration in or within 30 m of these areas. Exceptions are provided for approved developments, yard maintenance, farming and woodlot management in accordance with good forestry practices.
In some cases, the City may require an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) to be prepared in order to demonstrate how the proposed work can be completed without causing negative impacts to the natural feature or its ecological functions. The need for an EIS will be determined on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the City’s Environmental Impact Study Guidelines. City staff can waive the EIS requirement where minor projects are unlikely to cause negative impacts.
The by-law does not prevent landowners from cutting trees or removing woodlots that have not been identified as significant natural features in the City’s Official Plan. Tree cutting is controlled under the Urban Tree Conservation By-law for privately owned trees in the urban and future urban expansion areas, and for City-owned trees throughout the City.
Not sure if this rule applies to you? Contact a Development Information Officer at one of the City’s Client Service Centres to determine if your property is located within 30 m of a significant natural area.
Rule #6: Notify your neighbour(s) if you will be working within 10 metres of your property boundary.
If your proposed site alteration will occur within 10 m of your property boundary, you may need to notify the adjacent private neighbour(s) along that boundary before starting work. Notification is not required for minor landscaping or yard maintenance, farming, or woodlot management. It is also not required in cases where site alteration is urgently required to deal with events such as flooding or failures of private wells or septic facilities.
Where notification is required, it may be done in writing or by posting a sign at the entrance(s) to your property. The notice must include the following information:
- A clear description of the nature and purpose of the work (e.g., putting in a new swimming pool, patio and landscaping)
- The location and extent of the area to be affected (e.g., approximately 30m2 in the back yard of 123 Any Street)
- The anticipated duration of the work (e.g., five days, beginning on Date)
- Contact information for the person or company doing the work (e.g., name and phone number for your contractor)
Notifying your neighbours does not give them the right to object to your plans. It simply ensures that they know what is going on, how long it will take, and who to call if they have any questions or concerns.
Rule #7: Notify your City planner before working on a site during the development review process.
If a developer wants to start working on a site before receiving approval from the City on their Planning Act application (e.g., Plan of Subdivision, Zoning By-law Amendment, etc.), they need to notify the City’s lead planner for the file. This allows the City planner to notify the local Councillor or community association where appropriate, and enables them to better respond to any questions or concerns from the public. Notification is not required for minor landscaping or yard maintenance, farming, or woodlot management. It is also not required in cases where site alteration is urgently required to deal with events such as flooding or failures of private wells or septic facilities.
Rule #8: Use sediment and erosion control, where necessary.
Soil that has been exposed or disturbed by site alteration activities is vulnerable to erosion by wind or water. Soil erosion is a loss for the landowner, and can also cause negative environmental impacts to local air conditions, water quality, and natural areas. Sediment and erosion control measures may be needed to keep the soil in place until the site stabilizes. For small projects on relatively flat properties, this may simply mean avoiding work during times when heavy rains or high winds are forecast. Maintaining an undisturbed buffer zone of grass or other vegetation around the work area is also helpful. For projects on slopes or near watercourses, more advanced measures such as silt fencing or straw bale check dams may be needed.
Rule #9: Fence off or otherwise limit your work area, where necessary, to prevent accidental damage to nearby trees, structures or property during the work.
The use of construction fencing to ensure public safety around building sites is regulated under the Building By-law. For site alteration activities, it is also good practice to fence off or otherwise mark the limits of the work area to reduce the risk of accidental damage to nearby trees, natural areas, neighbouring properties, or infrastructure. If the work area is in the middle of an open field, with nothing nearby that could be damaged, this rule would not apply.
Rule #10: Use clean fill.
Soil or other fill used at a site must be clean. Provincial regulations establish limits for various contaminants. Residents should take care to obtain topsoil and other fill from reputable suppliers.
Exceptions to the Rules
The Site Alteration By-law does not apply to lands that are regulated by any of the local Conservation Authorities under the Conservation Authorities Act. This includes floodplains and significant wetlands throughout the City, as well as most other wetlands in the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority’s jurisdiction. Lands adjacent to wetlands and along watercourses are also regulated. Maps showing the regulation limits are available on geoOttawa, but this information should be confirmed with your local Conservation Authority.
The by-law also does not apply to several activities that are regulated and approved under provincial legislation, such as:
- Construction or maintenance of transmission or distribution systems under the Electricity Act
- Aggregate extraction in pits and quarries licensed under the Aggregate Resources Act
- Construction, maintenance or repair of drainage works under the Drainage Act or Tile Drainage Act
- Construction and operation of waste disposal sites or waste management systems under the Environmental Protection Act
Exceptions from many of the by-law’s rules have been provided for several common activities such as farming, woodlot management, implementation of approved developments, landscaping and yard maintenance. More information on these exceptions is provided below.
Under the Farming and Food Production Protection Act, municipal by-laws cannot restrict normal farming practices carried out as part of an agricultural operation. Therefore, farmers are exempt from many of the rules in the by-law. Farmers need to ensure that they are not working on someone else’s land without permission, and that they do not interfere with anyone else’s drainage. They do not need to notify anyone or ask for the City’s approval before carrying out normal farming practices, but they do need to follow rules 8 to 10 (use sediment and erosion control where necessary, protect the work area where necessary, and use clean fill). Most farmers already follow these practices in their daily work, as responsible stewards of their land.
Normal farming practices include a broad range of activities such as cultivating fields, spreading manure, harvesting crops, installing and maintaining fences, planting or removing hedgerows and windbreaks, and maintaining drainage or irrigation systems. The construction, maintenance and repair of drains under the Tile Drainage Act is exempt from the Site Alteration By-law. The incidental removal of topsoil as part of sod farming, greenhouse operations and horticultural nursery production is also legally exempt. The removal of topsoil (including peat) for sale or other disposition is not exempt, and is not allowed in designated Agricultural Resource Areas under the by-law.
Woodlot owners do not need to notify anyone or ask for the City’s approval to manage their woodlot. They need to ensure that they are not working on someone else’s land without permission, and that they do not interfere with anyone else’s drainage. They also need to follow rules 8 to 10 (use sediment and erosion control where necessary, protect the work area where necessary, and use clean fill). Provincial and federal regulations may apply in some cases (e.g., Endangered Species Act, Migratory Birds Convention Act).
Developments that have already received approval from the City under the Planning Act or Building Code Act are subject to rules 1 to 3 and must follow any applicable conditions of approval. If you will be working within 10 metres of your property boundary, you will need to notify your neighbours before starting work. If you want to start work on a site before receiving City approvals, you must notify the City planner overseeing your application and follow rules 8 to 10. Other rules in the by-law may apply depending on the location and context of the site; the City planner can assist in determining which rules apply.
Landscaping and Yard Maintenance
Landscaping and yard maintenance are exempt from several of the rules in the by-law. Landscaping refers to any activity that changes the visible features of an area of land. Landscaping may include planting, grading, patios, fences, pools or water features, and structures such as gazebos. Yard maintenance may include activities such as top-dressing lawns or filling in potholes in a private laneway.
Minor landscaping activities are exempt from most of the rules in the by-law. Residents do not need the City’s approval or to notify anyone to top-dress a lawn, put in a new garden bed or plant new trees or shrubs. However, they need to follow rules 1 to 3, as well as rules 8 to 10 where appropriate. For most home gardening projects, meeting rules 8 to 10 is not difficult – do not work during extreme rain events, be careful, and use topsoil from reputable suppliers.
Major landscaping or yard maintenance projects, such as the installation of an in-ground pool or the replacement of a septic field, are not exempt from the notification requirement – if the work area is within 10 m of your property boundary, notify your neighbours. Check to see if the project would affect the critical root zone of any tree protected under the City’s Tree Protection By-law, and get any necessary approvals. Other regulations may apply to such projects. Contact the Ottawa Septic System Office for more information about septic fields or your local Client Service Centre for information about the City’s Pool Enclosure By-law.
For more information about your property, or to determine if you are located within 30 m of a significant natural area, contact a Development Information Officer at one of the City’s Client Service Centres.
To consult the City’s Planning staff regarding a proposed site alteration in or within 30 m of a significant natural area located in the area shown on Schedule B of the by-law, email us at email@example.com.
For general inquiries about the by-law and its rules, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like to report a potential by-law violation, call 3-1-1.
Old Landfill Management Strategy
The Old Landfill Management Strategy (OLMS) was implemented by the City of Ottawa to protect public health and the environment, to assess and minimize possible liability of the municipality and individuals, and to provide information to the various stakeholders associated with old landfill sites in the amalgamated City of Ottawa.
The first phase of the OLMS initiative included a detailed inventory of old landfill sites within the City which was documented in the report entitled Old Landfill Management Strategy, Phase 1 – Identification of Sites, City of Ottawa, Ontario” (Golder Associates, October 2004). Electronic copies of this report are available upon request. Inquiries such as whether a resident’s home was built on a former landfill can be directed to
Environmental Remediation Unit - ERU-UAE@ottawa.ca
Kimberley Millar, Environmental Remediation and Leasing Program Manager
613-580-2424, extension 23416
Erin Tait, Environmental Remediation Specialist
613-580-2424, extension 12958
Ottawa is well known for its sweeping expanses of federally owned lands, but our city’s greenspaces are not limited to the Greenbelt and Capital parklands. Ottawa’s public greenspaces assume many forms, including landscaped parks and pathways, sports fields and playgrounds, tree-lined boulevards, meadows around stormwater management ponds, wooded ravines, and sensitive wetlands and forests. Privately owned greenspaces, while not open for public access, do contribute significantly to the city’s overall ecological integrity and resilience. Ottawa residents value their greenspaces and recognize the contribution that these areas make to the high quality of living here. As the population grows, the challenge will be to maintain these areas as new communities are added and existing neighbourhoods evolve.
The City works to preserve and enhance its greenspaces in a variety of ways.
Plans, Policies and By-laws
The City’s Official Plan contains numerous policies for the identification and protection of natural features, public open spaces and linkage corridors. Key sections of the Official Plan include Section 7 (Greenspace Designations).The Official Plan also includes references to other plans and strategies related to greenspaces, such as the Greenspace Master Plan (2006) and the Urban Natural Features Strategy (2007). Other key documents include the Urban Forest Management Plan (2017) and the Park Development Manual (2017).
Watersheds are the land areas that feed rivers. Subwatersheds are smaller areas that feed streams and creeks. The City conducts watershed and subwatershed planning studies in cooperation with our local Conservation Authorities, to examine existing conditions, identify any opportunities or concerns, and inform future planning decisions and stewardship activities in those areas. For more information on watershed and subwatershed planning studies, please see Subwatershed Studies.
Public and private development projects that could affect the City’s natural areas or other greenspaces are required to complete studies to ensure that potential negative impacts are identified and addressed. For an overview of the various types of studies required, see Development and the Environment. If you need more detailed information about our requirements for developing a property, refer to the Development Application Review Process.
Ottawa also protects its trees, forests and natural areas through by-laws enacted under the Municipal Act. The Tree Protection By-law protects City-owned trees and natural areas throughout the city, and privately-owned trees in the urban area. The Site Alteration By-law establishes basic rules to avoid or reduce potential negative impacts of activities such as topsoil removal and the clearing, grading and filling of land.
Ottawa's Official Plan contains policies for the securement of natural areas and other greenspaces, particularly for lands that are designated as Urban Natural Features or Natural Environment Areas. Parkland is generally secured through the development review process, in accordance with the Planning Act. Natural lands may be secured through this process as well, or by various other means including donations under the federal Ecological Gifts Program. The City also works with local land trusts and conservation partners to secure natural lands on occasion.
The City already owns many Urban Natural Features, as well as over 10,000 hectares of rural land in such environmentally significant areas as the South March Highlands, the Carp Hills, Constance Bay, Cumberland Forest and Marlborough Forest. These areas are managed by the City for conservation and passive recreational purposes, and provide local residents with valuable opportunities to experience and appreciate the natural environment.
The City encourages residents to get involved in local stewardship activities that help make Ottawa an even better place to live. For more information on seasonal clean-ups, adopting a park or road, or accessing environmental grants, please refer to Community Environmental Programs. The following local groups also offer opportunities to get involved in stewardship:
Natural heritage system
Natural areas recharge our aquifers, filter rainfall and clean our air. They provide wildlife habitat, support the diversity of our environment and restore us physically and mentally. The City seeks to protect our most significant natural areas as part of our natural heritage system.
Natural heritage system: means a system made up of natural heritage features and areas, and linkages intended to provide connectivity (at the regional or site level) and support natural processes which are necessary to maintain biological and geological diversity, natural functions, viable populations of indigenous species, and ecosystems. These systems can include natural heritage features and areas, federal and provincial parks and conservation reserves, other natural heritage features, lands that have been restored or have the potential to be restored to a natural state, areas that support hydrologic functions, and working landscapes that enable ecological functions to continue. Provincial Policy Statement, 2020 | ontario.ca
Ottawa’s natural heritage system and features are defined in Section 4.8.1 of the Official Plan. The natural heritage system is comprised of strongly protected core areas and connecting linkages shown on Schedule C11 of the Official Plan. Natural features have also been identified outside of this connected system, and many of these are shown on Schedule C11.
Most of the significant features included in Ottawa’s natural heritage system as core areas had already been identified and designated for protection in previous versions of the Official Plan, based on earlier studies such as the Natural Environment Systems Strategy by the former Region of Ottawa-Carleton. Other natural features have not been designated as environmental lands, but are still subject to the requirement for an environmental impact study to support any proposed development or site alteration.
The City and other local public agencies (e.g., Conservation Authorities, National Capital Commission) collectively own many of the natural features and areas within the natural heritage system. The majority of Ottawa’s natural heritage system and features, however, is and will remain under private ownership. Good stewardship by both public and private landowners is essential to the continued preservation and enhancement of our natural environment.
Information on the nature and significance of natural areas in Ottawa is available from City staff. E-mail us your questions related to natural areas in the City of Ottawa and related policy initiatives.
- Natural Heritage Reference Manual
- Natural Heritage Information Centre
- Conservation Ontario (A network of 38 Conservation Authorities of Ontario) including our three local Conservation Authorities:
- National Capital Commission
- Ottawa Field Naturalists
For more information on natural areas stewardship, please refer to the following web sites:
Environmental assessment (EA) or environmental impact assessment is a process that is used to identify the potential negative effects and/or benefits of a project or activity on the environment. EAs allow environmental factors to be incorporated into decision-making to minimize or avoid adverse environmental effects. An EA may be required for certain types of projects at the federal, provincial and/or municipal level, depending on the scope and proponent of the project and the applicable federal and/or provincial laws. When an EA is triggered at more than one level, a harmonized process may be used to ensure that all relevant requirements are satisfied by a single study.
Federal Impact Assessment Act
Provincial Environmental Assessment Act
Provincial and municipal agencies are subject to the Environmental Assessment Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18 (ontario.ca). While particularly large or complex projects may require an individual EA, most municipal infrastructure projects (i.e., roads, water and wastewater) are assessed using a streamlined Class EA process, which provides a decision-making framework that satisfies the provincial EA Act in an effective manner. Transit projects are assessed using a similarly streamlined process. Public notification and consultation is required for every provincial EA, regardless of the process used. Information on EAs currently in progress within the City of Ottawa may be found under Public Engagement.
Environmental Impact Study
The City of Ottawa’s Official Plan establishes requirements for an environmental impact statement study (EIS) when a development is proposed in or adjacent to designated natural areas, part of the City’s natural heritage system, or a natural heritage feature. The EIS provides a description of the existing environment, the proposed project, and the mitigation measures that will be used to ensure the development will not negatively impact significant natural heritage features or functions. The EIS Guidelines are intended to assist applicants in meeting the City’s requirements. EIS reports associated with applications subject to public consultation can be accessed via the City’s Development Application Search Tool | City of Ottawa.
Development and the environment
Ottawa's Official Plan directs us to "grow in, not out" by concentrating growth within the existing designated urban area. This means that Ottawa will focus development within the urban area already served with water, sewer and transit. This approach is known as intensification, which means that the density of urban development increases. By "intensifying" development within the urban core instead of sprawling into rural areas, we preserve natural greenspace and reduce the cost of servicing development. However, intensification can contribute to added pressures on urban greenspace and tree canopy that must also be considered in the planning process. The City has developed a variety of design guidelines to help ensure that new and intensifying neighbourhoods are liveable and environmentally sustainable.
In order to inform planning decisions, environmental studies may be required to identify the potential environmental effects of a proposed project and consider how negative impacts can be avoided or mitigated. The type of study required depends on the type of project. The following studies are typically required for public infrastructure projects, urban expansion areas, and private development projects in or adjacent to the natural heritage system, or that could impact trees in the urban area. For specific information about the City’s study requirements for development applications, please refer to our Planning application submission information and materials.
Projects undertaken by provincial and municipal agencies are subject to the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act. While particularly large or complex projects may require an individual environmental assessment (EA), most municipal infrastructure projects (i.e., roads, water and wastewater) are assessed using a streamlined Class EA process, which provides a decision-making framework that satisfies the provincial EA Act in an effective manner. Transit projects are assessed using a similarly streamlined process. Public notification and consultation is required for every provincial EA, regardless of the process used. Information on EAs currently in progress within the City of Ottawa may be found under Public Engagement.
Some major projects may be subject to the requirements of the federal Impact Assessment Act (justice.gc.ca). When an EA is triggered at more than one level, a harmonised process may be used to ensure that all relevant requirements are satisfied by a single study.
Environmental Management Plans
When new urban expansion areas are identified, area planning studies are typically required to guide their future development and servicing. These studies include secondary plans, master servicing studies, and environmental management plans (EMPs). The purpose of the EMP is to assess the existing natural features and functions of the study area, identify any development constraints or opportunities, and provide recommendations to avoid or reduce negative impacts where possible. In areas where a subwatershed study has already been completed, the EMP may be used to refine or update the subwatershed plan with respect to the new development area. The EMP does not replace site-specific environmental studies that may still be required during later stages of planning, but it can be used to inform or scope those studies.
Environmental Impact Studies and Tree Conservation Reports
The City of Ottawa’s Official Plan establishes requirements for an environmental impact study (EIS) when development or site alteration is proposed in or adjacent to designated natural areas, part of the City’s natural heritage system or a natural heritage feature. The EIS provides a description of the existing environment, the proposed project, and the mitigation measures that will be used to ensure the development will not negatively impact significant natural heritage features or functions. Ottawa City Council has approved EIS Guidelines to assist applicants in meeting the City’s requirements. EIS reports associated with applications subject to public consultation can be accessed via the City’s development application search portal.
The City has produced guidelines for the identification, evaluation and impact assessment of significant woodlands, as a companion document to the EIS Guidelines. The Significant Woodlands guidelines should be used together with the EIS Guidelines when woodlands are present on or adjacent to a property in the urban or rural area.
The City also requires tree conservation reports (TCRs) and landscaping plans for all plans of subdivision and site plan proposals. Infill projects subject to Committee of Adjustment and/or building permit approvals are required to prepare a tree information report (TIR) instead. The City’s goal is to retain as much natural vegetation as is feasible and to encourage tree planting in new developments. In cases where both an EIS and a TCR are required, the two studies can be combined.
Other related documents and web pages that may be useful to development proponents include: