Flood Plain Regulations & Your Building Project

Regulations and Your Project

The Nickel District Conservation Authority conserves and restores the natural resources in the Sudbury area for the benefit of everyone. As part of this mandate, the N.D.C.A. preserves and regulates important environmentally sensitive areas such as wetlands and waterways. The Conservation Authority also regulates building on floodplains and steep slopes to reduce the risk of loss of life and property damage.

The N.D.C.A. regulates these areas in partnership with the City of Greater Sudbury and residents of our watershed such as yourself. Regulation occurs under Regulation 156/06: Development, Interference with Wetlands & Alterations to Shorelines & Watercourses, made under the Conservation Authorities Act.fill regulated area

When do you need a fill regulations permit?
  • If you want to place fill or build on or near a wetland or floodplain, you have to get permission from the N.D.C.A. If you call us, we'll tell you whether you need a permit for your work and how to apply.
What happens when you call?
  • Calling ahead of time will save everyone time and money. If necessary, Conservation Authority staff may visit your property. Staff will also advise you about the permit requirements for your project.
What happens if you don't call?
  • If you don't call the N.D.C.A., you may do something that is not permitted under the Generic Regulations. Permits for work in regulated areas are required by federal and provincial legislation. If your project is illegal, you may have to remove the work , and you may be fined.

We can answer any other questions you have about projects on land regulated by the Generic Regulations. Just give us a call 705-674-5249.

If your project involves areas under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Natural Resources or Department of Fisheries & Oceans Canada, we can circulate the application you submit to our office, on your behalf.

Who else should you call?

You should also call the Building Department of your local municipality. It will have other guidelines that apply to your project. As a part of a normal building permit application (for example to build a house), your application to the City of Greater Sudbury is automatically circulated to the Nickel District Conservation Authority when necessary for our review and comments.

Call before you build on a floodplain

Before the development regulations came into effect in the mid 1970's, residents of the Sudbury area could build in flood-prone areas. Unfortunately, they discovered that the floodplain and their houses were often flooded after heavy rain or in the spring.

Today the N.D.C.A. determines what types of development are permitted on flood plains of the local lakes and rivers. These include:

  • Junction Creek,
  • Lily Creek,
  • Whitson River,
  • Vermilion River,
  • Onaping River,
  • Wahnapitae River and others.

The N.D.C.A. and City of Greater Sudbury have developed local floodplain policies that meet community needs.

If you call us, we can tell you whether your proposed project is in the floodplain. We can also let you know about the policies that apply under the regulations in our watershed.

For preliminary inquiries call (705) 674-5249

Call before you alter a waterway

A stream is sensitive to changes in its channel or shoreline. Altering a stream may harm water quality, or increase siltation and the risk of flooding. For these reasons, you cannot straighten, change, divert or interfere with the channel of a river, creek or other watercourse without a permit from the N.D.C.A.. If you do any of this work without permission, you are violating provincial and federal legislation.

  • Call us before you undertake any work in a stream or waterway.
  • Call before you build on a steep slope

Steep slopes along rivers are usually unstable and dangerous as building sites. Some of these slopes in the N.D.C.A. watershed are regulated by the N.D.C.A.

Call us before you place fill, build, or add to an existing building on a steep slope. We will let you know if the slope is regulated and if you require a permit.

FAQ - Flood Plain/Shoreline Development Regulations

Why do Conservation Authorities administer flood plain regulations?

The Federal, Provincial and local governments have an interest in reducing the risk of loss of life, property damage and social disruption to their citizens as a result of flooding. A coordinated approach to the use of land and the management of water is encouraged.

In Ontario, water and related land management has become a key program responsibility of Conservation Authorities as a direct consequence of our long-standing partnership with municipalities. Regulations are one part of an overall water management program that includes flood forecasting and warning, information and education, the construction and maintenance of flood control works, controls on the use of land (regulation) and land use control by municipalities (zoning).

Why is this important?

Indiscriminate flood plain development potentially leads to higher flood levels for neighbours both up and downstream. Stream flow velocities may rise. Residents at the edge of the flood plain could be exposed to a flood risk situation which didn't exist previously.

Effective June 25, 1998 obtaining Conservation Authority approval for works near water became even more important with the signing of a new agreement with the Canada Department of Fisheries and Oceans to provide local assistance with the administration of Section 35 of the Canada Fisheries Act.

Under the terms of this agreement the Conservation Authority will now give guidance to proponents of projects near water to ensure that they are in compliance with the Act. Works are evaluated to ensure that they will not harmfully alter, destroy or disturb fish habitat. Failure to comply can result in substantial fines under the Canada Fisheries Act. Restoration orders may also be issued.

How do I apply for the permit?

Fill out all the information required on both sides of the standard application form available at the N.D.C.A. office. Once a complete application is received your application will be processed as quickly as possible, generally within ten working days.

What if I proceed without the necessary permission?

The Authority monitors development activities throughout the watershed. Monitoring techniques include aerial, land, and water based surveys. Complaints are also received. Penalties which may be imposed for contraventions of the Regulation are outlined in Section 28, Subsections 16 and 17 of the Conservation Authorities Act (as amended by the Ontario Legislature under Bill 25, November 1998) and include the imposition of a substantial fine upon conviction in Court, possible incarceration as well as the issuance of a Court order for removal of the offending works and rehabilitation of the site. Injunctions may be requested in cases where persons will not stop work at the request of the Authority.


Remember that, in areas affected by the Authority's development regulation, permission must be obtained from the Conservation Authority in addition and prior to issuance of the municipal building permit. Under the Ontario Building Code Act the Conservation Authority regulation is considered "other applicable law".


Report A Spill

Call the Spills Action Centre 1-800-268-6060

Changes to the Federal Fisheries Act

On November 25, 2013, amendments to the Fisheries Act came into force.

For more visit Fisheries and Oceans Canada.