Conservation authorities, at their core, are tasked with protecting people and property from flooding and other hazards along a waterway. Our planning and regulation staff review development applications that impact wetlands, rivers and other waterways, or that involve flood plains and unstable slopes. We continually update and create new hazard maps to make sure development is out of the way of rising waters, and we work hard to keep residents informed about flood risks.
But we also rely on our community partners to help us reach out to residents.
Jeff Shipman is a certified Ontario Land Surveyor, and owns and operates Shipman Surveyors in North Gower.
He often submits applications to the RVCA on behalf of clients who want to develop on or near the flood plain – and he spends a lot of time explaining the value of the conservation authority's rules and regulations.
"I certainly understand the risks, and I explain to clients that if you're below the flood line you just can't do it, and here's why," Shipman said. "Everybody wants to be as close to the water as they can, but that's changing as they see what's been happening with flooding on the Ottawa River. With residential development, obviously you need to stay clear of the flood plain."
Shipman's small town of North Gower is routinely affected by seasonal high waters along Stevens Creek, so he knows how destructive flooding can be.
He said working through the approvals process with RVCA staff feels more collaborative than combative – rarely does a project get a hard 'no.' Rather, landowners are sometimes asked to re-jig their plans to meet the provincially-mandated regulations.
"RVCA staff show my clients how to work within the rules," Shipman said. "It's a matter of working through it. The RVCA is pretty good at helping people find solutions."
The RVCA and the province's 35 other conservation authorities are mandated by provincial law to regulate development inside the 100-year flood line, as well as any alterations to waterways within their watershed.
For more details about the work we do to protect people and property, visit www.rvca.ca/regulations-planning.