Since its inception in 2001, the Oak Ridges Moraine Groundwater Program has had a strong technical and scientific direction. However, there remains a need to ensure that the scientific understanding gained from the program, as well as from other programs (e.g. Source Water Protection), continues to support day-to-day decision making. This is done by ensuring that groundwater related policies are scientifically defensible.
In 2004-2005 a core team of Municipal and Conservation Authority planners from the partner agencies embarked on a process to develop science-based generic policies under the ORMGP (previously referred to as YPDT-CAMC) partnership. At the time, a key goal of the work was to better integrate watershed policies (typically developed through various Conservation Authority driven watershed studies) with Official Plan policies (as developed through various regional official planning processes). A report (prepared by Ogilvie, Ogilvie and Company, and Anthony Usher Planning) from this study entitled “Watershed Planning – From Recommendations to Municipal Policies: A Guidance Document” was released in June 2005 as a working draft. The report provides generic policies that watershed and municipal planners could reference: a) when writing watershed plan policy recommendations; and b) to obtain guidance on how these policies could be implemented through municipal official plans.
The study generated policy guidance under four broad areas that are addressed in watershed planning:
The study was ground-breaking for the time providing: direction to watershed planners such that their watershed plans would facilitate the transfer of the science-based recommendations into official plan policies; and direction to municipal planners to demand watershed outcomes that are readily transferable into Official Plans.
Upon its release, the longer term objective was to have the policies be refined and updated as planners from the partner agencies tested their effectiveness in their day to day work. However, in 2005 – 2006, Source Water Protection initiatives were launched across the Province, superseding the short-term need for further work on this initiative. Source Water Protection work has led to the creation of approved Source Water Protection Plans across the Province which outline groundwater protection policies to address the protection of Ontario’s drinking water sources. The Source Water Protection Plans are available for review here: