Staff is developing a new by-law to regulate site alteration. This initiative responds to policy direction in the City's Official Plan for such a by-law to be established.
The ability for municipalities to enact a Site Alteration By-law is provided by the Municipal Act. Such a by-law can apply to all or part of the municipality and would define the nature of site alterations that may be permitted.
The Site Alteration By-law is intended to:
- Prevent drainage problems
- Protect the productivity of soils in designated Agricultural Resource Areas
- Protect designated natural areas and other identified natural heritage features (such as significant woodlands and valleylands) from negative impacts
- Reduce the risk of root damage to City-owned trees or other trees protected under the City’s tree by-laws
- Establish basic rules for how site alteration is done, to avoid impacts to neighbours and the environment
Where site alterations are undertaken that are not in keeping with the rules, the by-law would provide the ability for the City to require corrective actions.
Staff have been working with key stakeholders to develop a draft site alteration by-law. These stakeholders include representatives from other government agencies, affected industries, and local interest groups. Public input is also being invited through postings on the project web page at key stages including:
At this point, it is expected that recommendations related to establishing a Site Alteration Bylaw will be brought forward for consideration by Committee and Council in early 2018.
Key Facts about Site Alteration and Site Alteration By-laws
- Site alteration as defined through the Municipal Act involves the clearing and grading of land, including the removal of topsoil and the dumping of fill.
- A key focus for the site alteration by-law being considered for the City would be to define how alterations can be undertaken in accordance with policy directions of the Official Plan to ensure no negative impacts on drainage, natural features, agricultural productivity, soil and water quality, neighbouring properties, and public health and safety.
- In addition to implementing policy directions in the Official Plan related to acceptable site alteration, a site alteration by-law provides the authority to address site alteration activities that are contrary to Official Plan policies.
- Currently the City has by-laws that deal with limited elements related to site alteration through the following:
- The City's Drainage By-law, which is a version of a site alteration by-law. This by-law however, only applies to activities that impact off-site drainage.
- Eight topsoil preservation by-laws date back to pre-amalgamation. These by-laws do not provide consistent rules across the City related to Top Soil preservation.
- Conservation authorities also respond to site alteration issues, but only within areas covered by their regulations (for example, within flood plains, along watercourses, or in and adjacent to provincially significant wetlands).
- Under the Municipal Act, a site alteration by-law CANNOT apply to:
- Normal farming practices (including installation of tile drainage, and clearing lands for cultivation)
- Licensed aggregate resource extraction
- Development in compliance with approved plans of subdivision or site plans
- Lands already regulated by the conservation authorities