FAQs about the Permit Process
Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about the permit process.
When do I need to contact the NVCA?
If you are planning to do any work near a lake, river, stream or wetland, you may require approval from NVCA.
To see if you may require a permit from NVCA for your project, start by:
Checking to see if your property is regulated - Search for your property on
NVCA's property map to see if you are in an area where a permit is required. You may require a permit if some or all of your property is in the regulated area.
Submitting a property inquiry - Complete our online property inquiry form to get more information about if your property and project may require a permit from NVCA.
Contacting our office –
If for some reason you cannot submit the online property inquiry form, contact NVCA at 705-424-1479 and speak to our front desk staff. They’ll ask for some information about where your property is located and what you are planning.
Responses are provided in the order in which they are received. NVCA staff require a minimum of 2 business days to respond to your request. Responses may be provided sooner if time permits.
What activities or projects require a permit?
NVCA regulates development and activities in or adjacent to river or stream valleys, the Georgian Bay shoreline, watercourses, hazardous lands and wetlands.
If you are planning a project on a property that is located within a regulated area, you must apply for a Development, Interference with Wetlands and Alterations to Shorelines and Watercourses Permit from NVCA.
Activities and projects that require an NVCA permit if located within our regulated area include:
- constructing, reconstructing, erecting or placing of a building or structure of any kind;
- any changes that alter the use, or potential use, of a building or structure;
- increasing the size of a building or structure, or increasing the number of dwelling units in the building or structure;
- site grading;
- temporarily or permanently placing, dumping or removing of any material originating on the site or elsewhere;
- straightening, changing, diverting or interfering with the existing channel of a river, creek, stream or watercourse; or
- changing or interfering with a wetland.
Is my property regulated?
You can see if your property is regulated by looking at NVCA’s property map.
When you open the map, you should see a layer of red hash-marked areas that show NVCA’s regulated areas in the watershed. (If you don’t see any red areas, make sure the NVCA mapping layer is turned on - look under “Menu” then “Additional Map Layers”).
If your property, or a part of your property, is in the regulated area, you may require a permit from NVCA for any construction or landscaping project.
Not sure if your property is in a regulated area? Complete our online property inquiry form to find out more about your specific situation. You can also call or visit the NVCA office during regular business hours.
Can I meet with NVCA staff to discuss my proposal?
Yes, staff are pleased to meet with you to discuss any work you have planned. Staff will review our mapping to see if your property is regulated by NVCA, and whether or not a permit is required from the authority.
To discuss your proposal, please start by completing our online property inquiry form. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org with your specific questions.
NVCA encourages pre-consultation prior to making any permit applications.
How do I apply for a permit?
1— Check to see if you are in a regulated area.
Start by checking to see if your property is in a regulated area using NVCA's property map (see “Is my property regulated?” for more information).
2—Submit an online property inquiry.
If any part of your property is regulated, OR if you are unsure if your property is regulated, submit an online property inquiry form to tell us a bit about your plans. We’ll review your property and your proposed plan. If required, we’ll ask you to submit additional background information and/or make an appointment to discuss your plans (by phone or in-person).
3—Discuss your plans with us.
If you are considering a project that may require a permit we strongly encourage you to contact our office to discuss your plans. This free consultation will help determine the limitations (if any) on your property, if you need to apply for a permit for your plans, and what to expect during the permitting process.
4—Submit an application form and fee.
When you are ready to apply, you will need to submit a completed permit application form. Be sure to include all the information requested! You will also need to submit the required fee.
Forms can be submitted by email or by mail or in person. In all cases, make sure your forms, photos and drawings are clear and legible, and, if being submitted by email in a common format (pdf, jpg, png, tif) with an adequate resolution (photos typically need to be between 500 kB and 1 MB in size).
Submission by Mail or Courier
- Mailing Address: NVCA, 8195 8th Line, Utopia ON, L0M 1T0
- Include all materials in package. If you are including a cheque, it should be made payable to Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority.
Submission by Email
- Email Address: email@example.com
- File sizes larger than 5MB are not received. In this case, please email the documents individually.
- Payment can be made over the phone by contacting our front desk at 705-424-1479 when paying with credit card. Do not send credit card information via email.
What should I include with my application?
Your application should include:
- Completed application form
- Digital photo(s) (taken with a phone or camera showing the current conditions of the development location);
- Site plan drawing, showing direction (north arrow), street names, and all measurements
- Location map (showing where your site is located)
- Required fee.
A full list of the required items is included on the permit application form.
Forms can be submitted by email or by mail or in person (see "How do I apply for a permit?") In all cases, make sure your forms, photos and drawings are clear and legible, and, if being submitted by email in a common format (pdf, jpg, png, tif) with an adequate resolution (photos typically need to be between 500 kB and 1 MB in size).
What's involved in the review process?
When we receive your application, we first determine if it is complete. If it is not complete, we will provide you with a list of missing and required information.
Discussing your project with our planning staff before you begin the permit process will help you know what drawings and studies to submit with your application and let you know what other items may be required upon a more detailed review of your plans.
After all the required materials are received, NVCA planning and technical staff review your plans, complete a site inspection if needed, and take other steps to make an informed decision on your application.
How long is a permit valid?
In general, permits are valid for 2 years.
Are other permits required?
Approval from NVCA does not replace building permits or any other permits required by municipalities or other agencies such as the Niagara Escarpment Commission (NEC).
How do I apply for a Permit Renewal?
Once issued, a permit is valid for 2 years. If the proposed works have not been completed or initiated, the owner of the property may obtain a one-time only permit renewal for an additional 2 years, as long as the original permit has not expired.
The following items must be included to qualify for a permit renewal:
- A new permit application form
- Written confirmation that the plans and documents detailing the work is identical to those previously approved by NVCA as part of the original permit and that property ownership is the same as per the previously approved permit
- Digital photo(s) taken with a phone or camera showing the current conditions of the development location
- Permit renewal fee (see "permit - amendment" in the fee schedule). Payment can be made over the phone by calling our front desk staff at 705-424-1479 with credit card, in person with credit card, cheque, debit or cash, or by mail with a cheque. Please ensure your application form is submitted prior to or at the same time as making a payment.
How do I apply for a Permit Amendment?
If any changes are being made to the originally approved permit, the owner of the property must obtain a permit amendment.
The following items must be included to qualify for a permit amendment:
- A new
permit application form
- Written document stating what plans and documents detailing the work is being amended to those previously approved by NVCA as part of the original permit
- Note that property ownership must be the same as per the previously approved permit
- Digital photo(s) taken with a phone or camera showing the current conditions of the development location
- Permit amendment fee (see fee schedule). Payment can be made over the phone by calling our front desk staff at 705-424-1479 with credit card, in person with credit card, cheque, debit or cash, or by mail with a cheque. Please ensure your application form is submitted prior to or at the same time as making a payment.
Note: The amended permit is still valid through the original permit approval date. If you require additional time to complete the work, you may also apply for a one-time only permit renewal.
What if I am not the owner of the property?
When someone is deciding on the purchase of a property, NVCA staff often suggest they submit an application as the “applicant/agent” with the current owner’s consent.
If approved, the permit would be granted to the new owner after ownership is transferred. This will give the opportunity for staff to provide comments before the applicant decides on purchasing the property. The fee associated is still required, but will become full payment for the permit if granted.
I'm looking to buy a property that may fall within the NVCA’s regulated area. How do I find out if the property is regulated by the NVCA?
NVCA provides current owners and potential buyers or lawyers and real estate agents acting on their behalf with information on stating whether or not a property is likely to be affected by NVCA policies and regulations.
To see if the property you are interested in is regulated, start by:
- Checking to see if your property is regulated - Search for the property on NVCA's property map to see if you are in an area where a permit is required. You may require a permit if some or all of your property is in the regulated area.
- Submitting a property inquiry - Complete our online property inquiry form to get more information about if the property and project may require a permit from NVCA.
You can also call or visit the NVCA office during regular business hours.
I’m a solicitor looking for information on a property for a client. What information do you need to process my request?
To process a solicitor realty property inquiry, we require the following:
1. Request Letter – Please state information required. This would include:
- Regulatory control and compliance under Ontario Regulation 172/06 (Development, Interference with Wetlands and Alterations to Shorelines and Watercourses) pursuant to Section 28 of the Conservation Authorities Act, and other environmental designations search.
- Record of any outstanding directives, orders or notices of any unresolved breach of environmental regulations. Please include an email address on the letter as responses are sent by email.
2. Property Survey in its entirety that clearly depicts the geographic location and the extent of the property, with the property in question highlighted. In lieu of a survey, a Property Index Map (PIN) of Reference Plan with the property outlines, including the Property Assessment Roll Number is sufficient.
3. Payment of Fee - See fee schedule.
You can submit this information by mail or email:
Submission by Mail or Courier
- Mailing Address: 8195 8th Line Utopia, ON L0M 1T0
- Please include all materials in package. Cheque(s) should be made payable to Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority.
Submission by E-mail
- Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Please include items 1 and 2. Payment can be made over the phone by contacting our reception desk at 705-424-1479 when paying with credit card. Do not send credit card information via email.
Note: It takes 14 business days for staff to respond to complete requests. Requests are dealt with on a first-come, first-serve basis.
What happens if I don’t get an NVCA permit?
If you don’t get a permit and one was required, you will be in violation of the
Conservation Authorities Act. Conviction can result in fines of $50,000 and possible jail time. You may also be required to restore and rehabilitate the site to its original condition.
Why do we regulate?
Flooding and erosion are recurring problems in areas of the Nottawasaga Valley watershed. Over $1 billion in property and more than 33,000 people are at risk.
Imagine a significant flood event. Fast flowing and high water levels flood homes, erode stream banks and shorelines, and make roads impassable.
NVCA guards against the risks posed by flooding, erosion and other natural hazards by regulating development in the watershed. We do this by administering a regulation made under Section 28 of the Conservation Authorities Act known as the Development, Interference with Wetlands and Alterations to Shorelines and Watercourses Regulation (Ont. Reg. 172/06).
Under this regulation, NVCA ensures that development proposals take into consideration natural features like floodplains, steep slopes, wetlands, rivers and lakes in order to:
- prevent injuries and loss of life;
- minimize property damage and restoration costs;
- protect adjacent and downstream properties against harm caused by upstream development;
- reduce the costs, both public and private, of emergency operations and evacuations;
- minimize the hazards associated with development in floodplains and areas that are susceptible to erosion, which in future years may require expensive protective measures; and
- protect the natural benefits offered by wetlands, watercourses and shorelines.
For more information contact
NVCA, or our planning guidelines.