Natural Heritage resources include environmental features and functions such as wetlands, woodlands, valleylands, wildlife habitat and the habitat of endangered and threatened species.
The Township of Oro-Medonte contains significant natural heritage features and land forms such as the Oro Moraine, Copeland Forest Complex, Moonstone North East ANSI, Rugby West ANSI, Martin Farm South ANSI, Bass Lake, and Bass Lake Wetland, among many others.
Provincial & County Policy
The Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) and the County of Simcoe Official Plan Policies provide direction on specific issues. The Township Official Plan policies must conform to the PPS and County Official Plan, which set out the following policies:
Long Term Protection
Natural heritage features and areas shall be protected for the long-term and shall be identified. The Province has identified a regional Natural Heritage System for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) to provide a comprehensive, integrated, and long-term approach for protection of regional natural heritage and biodiversity.
Important links between and among natural heritage features, surface water features and ground water features should be recognized. The diversity and connectivity of natural features and their ecological/hydrological function should be maintained, restored, and, where possible, improved.
Development and site alteration is not permitted in significant wetlands.
In addition, development and site alteration is not permitted in significant woodlands, significant valley lands, significant wildlife habitat, and significant areas of natural and scientific interests unless no negative impacts to the features and ecological functions can be demonstrated.
Development and site alteration in fish habitat, or the habitat of endangered species, is not permitted except in accordance with provincial or federal requirements.
Development and site alteration is not permitted on lands adjacent to key natural heritage features or key hydrologic features, unless the ecological and /or hydrological function of the adjacent lands has been evaluated and it is demonstrated that there is no negative impact.
Existing Policy & Legislation
Provincial Policy Statement, 2014
Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2017
County of Simcoe Official Plan, 2016
Natural Heritage Reference Manual, 2010
Current Township Policies
The current Official Plan identifies Natural Features on Schedule B, including: wetlands, ANSIs, deer wintering areas, publicly owned lands, significant woodlands and land use designations in the Oro Moraine planning area (Core Area, Corridor Area, Potential Revegetation/Enhancement Areas, and Outliers).
Part B of the current Official Plan contains policies for Environmental and Open Space land use designations, including policies for the Oro Moraine planning area in section B1, Environmental Protection 1 in section B2, Environmental Protection 2 in section B3, Open Space in section B4, and Environmental Management objectives and policies in section B5. Current Official Plan policies:
Identify the Oro Moraine as the heart of the Township's natural heritage system, provide land use designations to protect significant features and areas, and provide policies to protect ground water and drinking water
Identify lands in the Open Space designation as sites held by public authorities that may be used for passive or active recreational uses or resource uses
Provide development policies for lands in Environmental Protection 1 and Environmental Protection 2 designations to ensure that natural features and functions are protected
Provide requirements for Environmental Impact Studies, which must demonstrate that all relevant policies of the Official Plan are met and that the proposed use will not have a negative impact on significant natural features or functions
Consider all rivers and streams identified in the Official Plan schedules as being environmentally significant, and require implementation through a specific Environmental Protection Zone for all lands below the top of bank of any river or stream
New Official Plan policies will be based on updated mapping which aligns with the County's Greenland system and policies which conform with PPS, 2014 and the Growth Plan, 2017. The updated Official Plan and Zoning By-law will ensure long-term protection of the Township’s natural heritage system, features, and functions. Significant natural heritage features will be preserved, maintained, and improved, and the provincial Natural Heritage System for the Greater Golden Horseshoe will be incorporated.
What changes would you like to see?
The province provides clear direction for natural heritage systems planning through PPS, Growth Plan, and other supplementary materials (e.g. Natural Heritage Reference Manual). The province has released a Natural Heritage System for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, available online, which applies to lands outside of settlement areas and will be implemented as an overlay in Official Plans. In settlement areas and outside of the provincial Natural Heritage System for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, natural heritage will be protected in accordance with PPS. The Township currently outlines an ‘environment first’ approach in its Official Plan, and also focuses on protection of the Oro Moraine.
Do you think that the existing policies for Environmental & Open Space land uses and the Oro Moraine area are sufficient to identify and protect key natural heritage features and key hydrologic features?
What features should be protected from impacts of development? Are there any particular features or areas in the Township that require special attention?
Biodiversity offsetting can be used as a strategy to compensate for the loss of a natural feature, through the creation of a new natural feature at another location. Should the Township utilize this strategy?
Please provide any other comments you may have for consideration in the development of new policies.