HCA Regulation & Permits

HCA Regulation & Permits

Click the link below to visit HCA’s Regulated Area Map Tool:

HCA Regulated Area Map Tool

Quick facts on HCA Development, Interference with Wetlands, and Alterations to Shorelines and Watercourses Regulation 161/06

If you have a stream on your property or if your lot backs onto a ravine, wetland, steep slope or the Hamilton Harbour/Lake Ontario, you are probably affected. Construction and development in these areas are regulated to control changes to watercourses, floodplains, wetlands and steep slopes, in order to prevent flooding and erosion problems. They are also in place to conserve the environment and its associated natural features.

The types of land affected include:

  • Ravines, valleys, sections of the Niagara Escarpment and other steep slopes
  • Wetlands, including swamps, marshes, bogs, fens and ponds
  • Any river, creek, stream, flood plain or Dundas Valley land
  • Hamilton Harbour and Lake Ontario Shoreline
  • Adjacent lands to the above natural features

If your property is regulated, you will require written approval from the Conservation Authority before proceeding with any of the following projects:

  • Site grading, temporary or permanent placing, dumping or removal of any material originating on the site or elsewhere (including disposal of unwanted material)
  • Construction, reconstruction, erection or placing of a building or structure of any kind (including additions, accessory structures or replacement of existing buildings, installation of swimming pools, decks, retaining walls, etc.)
  • Any change to a building or structure that would have the effect of altering the use or potential use of the building or structure, increasing the size of the building or structure or increasing the number of dwelling units in the building or structure
  • Alteration of a watercourse (including channelizations, retaining walls, revetments, bridges, culverts, docks, erosion protection measures). NOTE: alteration means to straighten, change, divert or interfere in any way.

If you are unsure whether the regulation applies to your property, please contact the Conservation Authority to view maps and discuss your situation.

Elizabeth Reimer, Conservation Planner
905-525-2181 ext. 165

Laura Stinson, Conservation Planner
905-525-2181, ext 164


Yes. Fees vary depending on the type and scale of a proposal. Details on the fees may be obtained by contacting HCA or see the fee schedule in the Helpful Links and Documents tab.

HCA staff review your application and may conduct a site inspection of the property. In the event that your proposal does not meet policy, HCA staff will further consult with you in an attempt to bring plans in accordance with all requirements. If the project conforms to policies a staff will issue a permit which is endorsed by the HCA Board of Directors at regularly scheduled meetings. In the event that your proposal does not conform to policy, you may request the matter to be brought in front of the Board of Directors as a formal Hearing for a decision. The Board of Directors will either approve, approve with conditions or deny the application. If a permit is approved, the permit is issued to the applicant and is typically valid for 2 years from the date of issuance. Service times vary depending on the season, but can take upwards of 4 weeks for permit issuance.

Works that cannot demonstrate conformity to HCA policy may be denied. This could involve works that reveal an unacceptable risk to life and property from natural hazards (i.e. flooding), adverse impacts to adjacent lands, including unacceptable environmental impacts to natural systems (e.g. wetlands, fisheries habitat, ravine and valley systems, environmentally significant areas).

Yes. Any applicant who has been refused permission may, within 30 days of receipt of the decision and reasons for refusal, appeal to the Minister of Natural Resources.

Yes. Subject to certain conditions, works qualifying for exemption may include small accessory non-habitable structures, fencing projects, and minor fill placement. Please contact HCA to see if your project is exempt.

If you have undertaken unauthorized works in a Regulated Area, you may be charged under Section 28 of the Conservation Authorities Act (R.S.O. 1990 c.27) subjecting you to prosecution in the Provincial Courts. It is very important to ensure that any works undertaken in HCA Regulated Areas are done so in accordance with HCA Policies and Guidelines.

It is important to note that a permit from the Conservation Authority does not replace building permits or any other permits issued through municipal offices or other government agencies. By the same token, a municipal building permit does not replace the one required from the Conservation Authority.

If you are unsure whether or not your property falls within a HCA Regulated Area, or whether your proposal requires an HCA permit, you are encouraged to contact our office for information and guidance.

Helpful Links and Documents

HCA Proposed Fee Schedule
The Hamilton Conservation Authority (HCA) provides plan review and technical services to our member municipalities and landowners throughout our watersheds. Additionally, the HCA regulates the following pursuant to the Hamilton Conservation Authority’s Development, Interference with Wetlands, and Alteration to Shorelines and Watercourses Regulation 161/06 under Ontario Regulation 97/04:

• all development in or adjacent to river or stream valleys, wetlands, shorelines, or hazardous lands;
• alterations to a river, creek, stream, or watercourse; and
• interference with wetlands.

The HCA has established policies in place that set an expectation of 100% cost recovery for planning application review and 80% cost recovery for permit application review. In this regard, in 2020, the HCA engaged the services of Watson & Associates Economists Ltd. to assess the full cost of providing these services and the sufficiency of current HCA fees in achieving the established cost recovery policies. The study was completed at the end of 2020 with recommended fee increases, however, given the uncertainty of the past two years, the recommended fees were not implemented and only cost of living increases were put in place for 2021 and 2022.

The HCA now intends to implement the recommendations of the 2020 report for 2023 and is proposing a phased approach to the implementation of the recommended fee increase. The proposed fee structure below details the following:

• Board Approved 2020 Fee for Planning and Permit review
• Recommended Fee Based on the Recommendations of the 2020 Watson & Associates Economists Ltd. Report
• 2023 Fee – Phased approach to increase (represents 50% of the increase over the 2020 fee)
• 2024 Fee – Full 100% Planning and 80% Regulation Cost Recovery

As part of our reporting to the HCA Board of Directors regarding this issue, we have advised that we will be contacting our member municipality’s, stakeholders and the public at large regarding the proposed fee increases and our phased approach to implementation. In this regard, the attached chart details the proposed fees and phased approach. If you have any comments or concerns regarding this proposal, please provide them by June 6, 2022. Comments and questions can be directed to scott.peck@conservationhamilton.ca.