Severances and Environmental Reports

What Is a Land Severance?

A land severance is an application to separate of a piece of land and to create a new lot. Depending on the township/municipality, one, two, three or more lots can be created through this process. There are many zoning by law and land use requirements that landowners should know before applying for a severance. A call to the local planning authority is the best place to start.

Severance applications, like any planning application, can include a requirement for a pre-consultation meeting, where the local planner and other folks such as the local conservation authority planner sit down to outline the applicable policies. Besides minimum lot sizes, minimum road frontages and access to a municipal road, an environmental study may also be required.

Small wetland pocket on a local property.
Wetland features are part of what constitutes Natural Heritage features as they provide key habitat for many species and are excellent indicators of water quality.

When is an Environmental Report Required?

Depending on the municipality/county or township an environmental study can go by various names:

  • Environmental Impact Study (EIS)
  • Natural Heritage Evaluation (NHE)
  • Site Specific Lake Assessment
  • Environmental Evaluation

An environmental report is required when a severance may impact on a natural heritage feature such as a wetland, lake, river, woodland, environmentally protected lands or habitat of a threatened or endangered species.

The report has three basic steps: 1) a review of background documents, maps and other reports; 2) field inventories of the property and 3) preparation of a scoped or full environmental impact study.

The reports conducted by Niblett Environmental Associates Inc. also include an assessment of the impact of the new lot lines on the natural heritage features, as well as the future construction of a house or cottage on the new lot. Buffers and setbacks from these features are also required to protect the features and ecological functions of those protected areas. Where necessary lots may need to be adjusted to remain outside of those natural features.

For more information on Ontario’s natural heritage features, please visit the Natural Heritage Information Centre (NHIC) or Ontario’s Make a Natural Heritage Map.