2020 was record development review year for SNC
SOUTH NATION — Are you planning on completing a development or home improvement project this spring or summer near a river, stream, floodplain, wetland, slope, or shoreline? To protect both people and property from natural hazards and to conserve ecologically sensitive areas, certain home improvement or construction projects within these areas may require permission from your local Conservation Authority before proceeding. This could include building a house, deck, garage, shed, dock, beach, or addition to your home.
Permit fees may be demanded by South Nation Conservation (SNC) in these situations, on top of the building permit cost collected by your local municipality.
However, SNC staff are available for online or phone consultations at no cost, “making it easy for residents to meet and discuss projects and permit approvals,” the watershed authority says. Although a permit from the Conservation Authority may not always be required, consultation is recommended as staff can provide advice and appropriate referrals for residents to help them complete their projects.
Areas that have been studied for flood and erosion hazards have been mapped and can be viewed online through SNC’s public geoportal. Through the online mapping portal, residents can see flood-prone areas, along with SNC’s Regulations Limit, which includes areas where permission may be required before construction projects can proceed.
“It’s about finding a balance between our provincial mandate to protect people and property from flooding and landslides while supporting local economic development and housing,” explains Alison McDonald, SNC’s Approvals Lead.
In 2020, SNC planning staff processed a record 650 development applications, property inquiries and technical reviews, issued a record 465 septic system permits and issued over 250 permit approvals for safe development in regulated areas. Pressure in urban expansion areas and increased home renovation projects from people staying home throughout the Pandemic are factors in the increased demand.
“The number of permits processed last year serves as a reminder of the important role that SNC and other Conservation Authorities play in providing environmental services for rural municipalities,” adds McDonald.
In 2020, SNC’s jurisdiction also increased in the City of Clarence-Rockland to include the rest of the municipality and its Ottawa River shoreline. SNC is empowered to review new construction, re-builds, and renovation projects along shorelines and in regulated floodplains. This expansion was requested by the Municipal Council after two historic flood events along the Ottawa River in 2017 and 2019, which caused devastating impacts to shoreline properties in floodplains.
In 2017, Ottawa River flood damage was estimated at $223 million in insured damage, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, with over 850 people being evacuated within the National Capital Region. Within SNC’s jurisdiction, 108 applications were submitted to the Government’s Disaster Recovery Assistance Program in Ottawa, Clarence-Rockland, Alfred and Plantagenet, and Champlain which provided nearly $3.5 million to those who were not able to receive support through insurance.
SNC says its expanded jurisdiction ensures projects are reviewed in areas susceptible to flooding and erosion and ensures new buildings are only constructed in the right place, in the right way to keep people and property safe.
SNC says it works with its municipalities in Eastern Ontario to streamline watershed planning and sustainable development, also ensuring the needs of affected residents are met through a “friendly, fair, and efficient process.” The watershed authority also conducts septic system inspections and issues septic permits on behalf of regions within the United Counties of Prescott and Russell, the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry (except for North and South Glengarry), and the City of Cornwall.