Natural Heritage Strategy Background Paper 

Cover of the Natural Environment Background PaperThe Natural Heritage Strategy Background Paper covers the following topics:

- What is a Natural Heritage System
- Existing Province of Ontario Policies
- Existing City of Brantford Policies
- Issues and Key Policy Directions

Download the Natural Heritage Background Paper (250 kb). This document is in Adobe PDF format and will require the Adobe PDF Reader Plugin.

The Natural Heritage Strategy - Final Report (Oct. 2014) outlines the natural heritage system framework that will form the basis for the formulation of new and updated environmental policies to protect, restore, and enhance the natural environment for the long-term. To download a copy of the report, please scroll to the end of this page for a list of report sections.

What is a Natural Heritage System?

The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources defines natural heritage systems as:

A system made up of natural heritage features and areas, linked by natural corridors, which are necessary to maintain biological and geological diversity, natural functions, viable populations of indigenous species and ecosystems. These systems can include lands that have been restored and areas with the potential to be restored to a natural state. (Provincial Policy Statement 2005).

The City of Brantford supports a rich natural heritage legacy centred on the Grand River, a Canadian Heritage River. Key components of the City's natural heritage legacy include:

  • The Grand River and its tributaries (D'Aubigny Creek, Fairchild Creek, Whiteman's Creek)
  • Several provincially significant wetlands (PSW)
  • The Tufa Mounds Earth Science Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI)
  • Rare prairie, savannah, perched fen and oak woodland plant communities
  • Forest-interior habitat
  • Linkage corridors (Grand River, D'Aubigny Creek)
  • Habitat for numerous species-at-risk, including several species that are protected under the Endangered Species Act. 

Issues and Key Policy Direction

The following table summarizes the Natural Heritage issues related to the current policy framework and any requirements to implement related Provincial legislation. The purpose of the following table is to generate input and discussion on the issues and the proposed key policy directions that are being considered for the new Official Plan policies.

Identified Issues Key Policy Directions Proposed
Conformity with Provincial Policy Statement or higher policy standard (e.g. Greenbelt Plan) to protect, restore and enhance the natural environment for the long-term. Development should not be permitted within key natural heritage features and key hydrologic features, as defined by the Natural Heritage Reference Manual and related standards, that comprise the City of Brantford's natural heritage legacy. A higher policy standard is recommended to achieve the goal of long-term protection and enhancement.
Protection of other Natural Areas. The City contains a large number of small (less than 4 hectares), isolated woodlands and wetlands that support important natural heritage features and functions, and contribute to the overall integrity of Brantford's natural heritage system.  Protection should be afforded to small woodlots and wetlands less than 4 hectares in area that support natural heritage features and functions, as defined by the Natural Heritage Reference Manual, or have the potential to support important ecosystem functions with time (succession) and/or resource management. 
Buffers and enhancements to core natural areas are required to protect the natural environment for the long-term. A minimum 30 metre buffer is recommended to protect and enhance the natural heritage system. In some areas (e.g. Northwest Sector, D'Aubigny Creek, Birkett Lane), larger buffers and enhancements have been identified to protect the natural heritage system. Depending on the natural heritage features and functions present, additional buffering in excess of 30 metres may be required.
Conflict between infill development opportunities and 30 metre buffer recommendation (e.g. In the downtown, development along the Grand River). Buffer policies should be flexible enough to allow for consideration of reduced buffers for in-fill developments where environmental impacts are considered to be minor and can be mitigated. Compensation for buffer reduction should be provided in the form of on-site natives planting (1:1 area basis) or off-site plantings within designated enhancement areas within the City (e.g. Northwest Sector, D'Aubigny Creek, Birkett Lane, Mohawk Park).
Conflict between protection of other Natural Areas and future development. The City supports a large number of small (less than 4 hectares) woodlands and wetlands that support a variety of important natural heritage features and functions. Development within these Natural Areas may be feasible, subject to the findings of an EIS, and with compensation in the form of on-site or off-site native plantings on a 1:1 area basis. Off-site compensation should target the restoration priority areas in the City, such as the Northwest sector and the D'Aubigny Creek.
Significant Valleylands. Natural versus "built-up" sections. Development should not be permitted within the core natural area component of significant valleylands. Special policies area required to address future development within the "built-up" urban sections of the valleylands (e.g. Grand River in the downtown). The policies should ensure proper protection of all core natural area features/functions associated with the significant valleylands. The policies also need to distinguish between the two types of flood zones within the City. New development within built-up sections of significant valleyland should implement Low Impact Development (LID) stormwater management measures, when possible.
Environmental Impact Study (EIS) requirements for new development. An EIS will be required for new developments that have the potential to negatively impact the natural heritage system. The EIS terms of reference should be developed in consultation with the City and GRCA. The EIS requirements should be tailored to address the specific issues related to the development application.
Issues and Policy Directions: Natural Heritage Strategy

Join the Conversation!

Please share your feedback by contacting Nicole Wilmot, Manager of Policy Planning, by email or by telephone at 519-759-4150.


Natural Heritage Reference Manual
This manual provides guidance for implementing the natural heritage policies of the Provincial Policy Statement. It can be used as a reference by municipalities, planning boards, approval authorities, developers and other organizations or individuals.
Click for information on the Natural Heritage Reference Manual