HCA’s Shoreline Management Plan

The Hamilton Conservation Authority’s (HCA) watershed includes approximately 42km of shoreline along Lake Ontario and Hamilton Harbour. This area extends from Fifty Point Conservation Area at the east end of the watershed to the Woodland Cemetery at the west end of Hamilton Harbour (Figure 1).

Figure 1 – Lake Ontario and Hamilton Harbour Shoreline within the HCA Watershed

Shorelines are dynamic areas and subject to influence from naturally occurring processes and forces of erosion, sediment transport and deposition, fluctuating water levels, wind and waves. As a result of these conditions, areas that lie along the Lake Ontario shoreline, including Hamilton Harbour, may be subject to hazardous conditions, including flooding hazards, erosion hazards and dynamic beach hazards.

The western end of the Lake Ontario shoreline within the HCA watershed consists of an approximately 8 km continuous stretch of dynamic beach, which is largely in public ownership (Hamilton Beach). The eastern half of the shoreline and Hamilton Harbour are predominantly in private ownership and developed; the shoreline in these areas has also largely been hardened, with a wide variety of flood and erosion protection structures in place. Interest in property re-development and infilling along this portion of the shoreline has created challenges and resulted in increased risks to public safety and property damage, aggravation of hazardous conditions, and impacts on coastal processes.

The provincial legislative and regulatory framework recognizes there are significant risks associated with development in shoreline areas. As a result, the overall objective of both provincial and HCA policy is to generally direct development to areas outside of shoreline hazard areas. In considering proposals for development on the shoreline, it is necessary to consider and account for the combined landward limits of the flooding, erosion and dynamic beach hazards in order to mitigate, to the greatest extent possible, the potential effects of these hazards on property and public safety, to ensure existing hazardous conditions are not aggravated, and to provide for the maintenance of coastal processes and conservation of sensitive ecosystems.

Since 2006, HCA has regulated development in areas adjacent to the Lake Ontario and Hamilton Harbour shoreline that may be affected by flooding, erosion or dynamic beaches under Ontario Regulation 161/06 (HCA’s Regulation of Development, Interference with Wetlands and Alterations to Shorelines and Watercourses) made under the Conservation Authorities Act, R.S.O. 1990. The hazard limits associated with Great Lakes shorelines are delineated based on the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) standards and criteria and consist of the furthest landward extent of the aggregate of all applicable hazards.

HCA’s Planning & Regulation Policies and Guidelines (October 6, 2011) describe how the flooding, erosion and dynamic beach hazard limits are determined based on the provincial standards and criteria and in consideration of existing available technical information and data. While HCA does map estimated hazard limits for the shoreline and their associated regulated areas, some of the information on which hazard limits are based has become outdated, and current and comprehensive mapping is not available to staff.Given the above, HCA undertook to prepare a Shoreline Management Plan (SMP). The SMP provides the HCA with updated coastal hazard mapping of its shoreline based on the latest technical information and data and makes management recommendations on a reach-specific basis to assist the HCA in administering its regulation of development on the shoreline under Ontario Regulation 161/06.

The SMP is being made available for public information, review, and comment. HCA and its consultant will consider the comments received and finalize the SMP. The SMP is available for public review and comment until March 31, 2024.

Please send comments or questions on the Shoreline Management Plan to:

Mike Stone
Manager, Watershed Planning, Stewardship & Ecological Services

Jonathan Bastien
Manager, Water Resources Engineering