Subwatershed Planning Guide

ERO number
Notice type
Posted by
Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
Notice stage
Proposal Updated
Proposal posted
Comment period
January 27, 2022 - March 13, 2022 (45 days) Closed
Last updated

Update Announcement

This proposal notice has been updated on June 02, 2023 to advise the public that this file is still under active review. The ministry is reviewing the comments it has received to date. The original proposal date and comment period have not been altered.

This consultation was open from:

January 27, 2022
to March 13, 2022

Proposal summary

Provincial guidance for integrating watershed and subwatershed planning into land use planning is out of date, current guidance is from 1993.

We want to rectify this to support implementation of provincial land use policy and address a barrier to housing development, in partnership with the Conservation Authorities Working Group and developers.

Proposal details

Provincial guidance for integrating watershed and subwatershed planning into land use planning is out of date, with the last guidance published in 1993 by the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks and the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry.

Subwatershed plans reflect the goals of a watershed plan but are tailored to tributary needs and local issues and provide detailed targets and actions on site-specific water resource planning issues.

As specified in provincial policies and plans, watershed/subwatershed planning for land use planning purposes is a responsibility of the planning approval authority, usually a municipality, and often supported by conservation authorities.

While it varies between policies and plans, there are requirements for watershed/subwatershed planning in the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) 2020 and the following provincial land use plans: 

  • A Place to Grow: Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (Growth Plan, 2020)
  • Greenbelt Plan (2017)
  • Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan (2017)
  • Niagara Escarpment Plan (2017)
  • Lake Simcoe Protection Plan (2009)

Given these many planning documents, this Guide will help provide a consistent, coordinated approach to subwatershed planning.

The proposal provides greater clarity and awareness of the subwatershed planning process and related provincial policy direction and the benefit of having consolidated information readily available for use. The draft Guide is intended to help promote a more consistent subwatershed planning approach across Ontario, leading to better coordinated and more efficient planning processes.

The best practices and practical approaches contained in this proposed Guide are intended to guide subwatershed planning in Ontario. It provides a general framework for subwatershed planning and provides information on:

  • roles and responsibilities amongst agencies
  • relationship between watershed and subwatershed planning and land use and infrastructure planning
  • purpose and principles of subwatershed planning
  • recommended steps, approach, and best practices for undertaking subwatershed planning
  • best practices for stakeholder and Indigenous community engagement in the subwatershed planning process
  • some key technical tools and considerations to support subwatershed planning

This draft Guide was developed with a significant contribution from the Conservation Authorities Working Group.

Supporting materials

View materials in person

Some supporting materials may not be available online. If this is the case, you can request to view the materials in person.

Get in touch with the office listed below to find out if materials are available.

Environmental Policy Branch

40 St Clair Avenue West
10th Floor
Toronto, ON
M4V 1M2


Commenting is now closed.

The comment period was from January 27, 2022
to March 13, 2022

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