Planning for the Flood Fringe: A Comparative Analysis of Two Zone Concept Planning Policies Used by Conservation Authorities in Southern Ontario

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Gunasekara, Dhilan
Ontario , Flooding , Environmental Planning , Natural Hazards , Flood Fringe , Policies , Evaluation
Settlements have historically taken root along bodies of water; however, lands adjacent to water bodies can face the risk of riverine flooding. In Southern Ontario, responsibility for representing provincial interest for plan input and review with respect to flooding hazards have been delegated to conservation authorities. While development and site alteration in the floodplain is generally not permitted or restricted, development may occur in certain areas with a reduced risk. These areas are referred to as the “flood fringe”, and the type of planning employed in such a mechanism is called the “two zone concept”. In this research, planning policies used by conservation authorities for the two zone concept are examined by answering the research questions, “how is the two zone concept of floodplain management applied by conservation authorities in Southern Ontario?” and “what are the strengths and weaknesses of the two zone concept of floodplain management as applied in Southern Ontario?” To answer the research questions, a multiple case study approach was employed. Through a literature review, components that make a high-quality natural hazard plan were examined and an evaluation framework was developed to compare planning documents that contained policies regarding the two zone concept. Planning documents released by Conservation Halton (2011), Credit Valley Conservation (2010), Kettle Creek Conservation Authority (2008), Otonabee Conservation (2012), and Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (2014) were selected for this evaluation. Overall, plans lacked mechanisms to track the planning program post-implementation, referencing to municipal land use documents as well as floodplain studies and technical criteria. All plans however clearly stated integration of its policies to provincial and municipal planning programs. From the evaluation, a set of recommendations was formulated to support improvements of existing two zone plans used by conservation authorities, as well as supporting new policy development. Recommendations were general or addressed specific concerns of planning documents reviewed.
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