3.0 Protecting public health and safety

Ontario’s long-term prosperity, environmental health and social well-being depend on reducing the potential for public cost or risk to Ontario’s residents from natural or human-made hazards.

Development shall be directed away from areas of natural or human-made hazards where there is an unacceptable risk to public health or safety or of property damage, and not create new or aggravate existing hazards.


3.1 Natural hazards

3.1.1 Development shall generally be directed to areas outside of:

  1. hazardous lands adjacent to the shorelines of the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence River System and large inland lakes which are impacted by flooding hazardserosion hazards and/or dynamic beach hazards;
  2. hazardous lands adjacent to riverstream and small inland lake systems which are impacted by flooding hazards and/or erosion hazards; and
  3. hazardous sites.

3.1.2 Development and site alteration shall not be permitted within:

  1. the dynamic beach hazard;
  2. defined portions of the flooding hazard along connecting channels (the St. Marys, St. Clair, Detroit, Niagara and St. Lawrence Rivers);
  3. areas that would be rendered inaccessible to people and vehicles during times of flooding hazardserosion hazards and/or dynamic beach hazards, unless it has been demonstrated that the site has safe access appropriate for the nature of the development and the natural hazard; and
  4. floodway regardless of whether the area of inundation contains high points of land not subject to flooding.

3.1.3 Planning authorities shall consider the potential impacts of climate change that may increase the risk associated with natural hazards.

3.1.4 Despite policy 3.1.2, development and site alteration may be permitted in certain areas associated with the flooding hazard along river, stream and small inland lake systems:

  1. in those exceptional situations where a Special Policy Area has been approved.  The designation of a Special Policy Area, and any change or modification to the official plan policies, land use designations or boundaries applying to Special Policy Area lands, must be approved by the Ministers of Municipal Affairs and Housing and Natural Resources prior to the approval authority approving such changes or modifications; or
  2. where the development is limited to uses which by their nature must locate within the floodway, including flood and/or erosion control works or minor additions or passive non-structural uses which do not affect flood flows.

3.1.5 Development shall not be permitted to locate in hazardous lands and hazardous sites where the use is:

  1. an institutional use including hospitals, long-term care homes, retirement homes, pre-schools, school nurseries, day cares and schools;
  2. an essential emergency service such as that provided by fire, police and ambulance stations and electrical substations; or
  3. uses associated with the disposal, manufacture, treatment or storage of hazardous substances.

3.1.6 Where the two zone concept for flood plains is applied, development and site alteration may be permitted in the flood fringe, subject to appropriate floodproofing to the flooding hazard elevation or another flooding hazard standard approved by the Minister of Natural Resources.

3.1.7 Further to policy 3.1.6, and except as prohibited in policies 3.1.2 and 3.1.5, development and site alteration may be permitted in those portions of hazardous lands and hazardous sites where the effects and risk to public safety are minor, could be mitigated in accordance with provincial standards, and where all of the following are demonstrated and achieved:

  1. development and site alteration is carried out in accordance with floodproofing standardsprotection works standards, and access standards;
  2. vehicles and people have a way of safely entering and exiting the area during times of flooding, erosion and other emergencies;
  3. new hazards are not created and existing hazards are not aggravated; and
  4. no adverse environmental impacts will result.

3.1.8 Development shall generally be directed to areas outside of lands that are unsafe for development due to the presence of hazardous forest types for wildland fire.

Development may however be permitted in lands with hazardous forest types for wildland fire where the risk is mitigated in accordance with wildland fire assessment and mitigation standards.

3.2 Human-made hazards

3.2.1 Development on, abutting or adjacent to lands affected by mine hazardsoilgas and salt hazards; or former mineral mining operations, mineral aggregate operations or petroleum resource operations may be permitted only if rehabilitation or other measures to address and mitigate known or suspected hazards are under way or have been completed.

3.2.2 Sites with contaminants in land or water shall be assessed and remediated as necessary prior to any activity on the site associated with the proposed use such that there will be no adverse effects.