Biodiversity, Resilient Landscapes, and Healthy Waters
The new WaterScape program was launched on September 1, 2020, to implement the recommendations and next steps outlined in the report on WaterScape III: WS III Summary Recommendations and Next Steps
The report has nine recommendations, three each on biodiversity, resilient landscapes, and healthy waters, and three next steps. The Recommendations are listed below, and the Next Steps here.
Preserve Ontario’s Biodiversity
- Ontario should protect biodiversity by updating the Ontario Biodiversity Strategy and Biodiversity: It’s in Our Nature, in conjunction with the anticipated 2021 conference of the Convention on Biological Diversity;
- Ontario should establish natural heritage targets similar to those in “How Much Habitat is Enough?”; and,
- Natural heritage system planning should be required in municipal official plans across Ontario.
Maintain Resilient Landscapes
- Ontario should ensure the application of section 2.2.1.a. of the Provincial Policy Statement, which requires planning authorities to use the watershed as the ecologically meaningful scale for integrated and long-term planning. This should apply to all uses, including aggregates, agriculture, forestry, and urban areas;
- Given deep concerns on the housing action plan, the absence of meaningful consultations, the use of omnibus bills, and the general unreliability of provincial population and employment projections, the Province needs to re-evaluate the implementation of its housing action plan; and,
- To support the transition to sustainable development, Ontario should develop and implement a sustainability lens for land use planning and management, providing guidance on sustainable planning and operating practices, complete communities, sustainable buildings, and public engagement.
Protect Healthy Waters
- Ontario should perform a comprehensive review of all aspects of its watershed management and water protection regimes toward the goal of transitioning to Integrated Watershed Management (IWM), including cumulative monitoring and adaptive management;
- Conservation authorities should have a strong, on-going role in watershed management and the transition to IWM. For areas without conservation authorities, the review recommended above should identify how new or similar bodies could be mandated to implement integrated watershed management; and,
- To help improve inter-agency and public collaboration on water, the Province should consider creating or supporting the creation of Regional Water Boards to help identify ways to improve the delivery of integrated watershed management, and to enhance public engagement, stewardship, transparency, and accountability.