Current Watershed Conditions
Sault Ste. Marie Region Conservation Authority (SSMRCA)
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What are SSMRCA’s regulations? 

The Sault Ste. Marie Region Conservation Authority's (SSMRCA) administers the "Development, Interference with Wetlands and Alterations to Shorelines and Watercourses", Ontario Regulation 176/06.
Regulations - it's the hard part of a Conservation Authority's job, but a necessary one entrusted to us by our member municipalities, the Province and the Federal Government. What may seem like red tape is actually there to protect property owners and reduce the risk to human life and property associated with flooding and erosion.

The SSMRCA regulates planning and development within the floodplain and other identified "hazardous lands" to reduce the risk to human life and property associated with flooding and erosion.

The regulatory responsibilities assigned to Conservation Authorities across Ontario under the Conservation Authorities Act provide landowners and/or their agents with the knowledge to make informed building decisions and to maintain and protect a sustainable natural watershed.

Why is the SSMRCA mandated to administer O. Reg. 176/06 permits?

For centuries we have developed our cities and villages in floodplains and adjacent to watercourses. Rivers are attractive areas for development because they are a means of transportation, may be harnessed for energy and are a source of food.
Unrestricted development within a floodplain can result in flood damage to buildings and threaten public safety. Development can also affect neighboring properties both upstream and downstream by changing the physical characteristics of the floodplain and the watercourse. Fill placed on a valley slope can aggravate existing erosion problems or create new ones.
The SSMRCA facilitates wise use of the land. The provincial regulation is there for your protection, as well as the protection of natural features and values associated with our watershed. What activities fall under the SSMRCAs regulation?
The following list identifies examples of just some of the activities that are typically regulated and require an approved permit:
  • Construction of all buildings and additions, reconstruction or a change of use to a structure
  • Breakwalls, shorewalls, retaining walls, revetments
  • Construction, repair or removal of gabions/groynes
  • Garages, stairs, decks, gazebos, sheds
  • Straightening, changing, diverting or interfering with an existing channel of a river, creek, stream, watercourse, shoreline or wetland
  • Docks, boat launch or ramps, dredging and other marine works on or near shorelines
  • In-ground and above-ground pools
  • Temporary or permanent placement of fill, grading, removal of fill or site alteration
  • Bridges, crossings, culverts
  • Geothermal heating
  • Subdivision development and construction
  • Stormwater Management

How can I find out if my property is regulated?

To find out if your property is regulated:
  • call and make an appointment with our staff at (705) 946-8530
  • send us an email at 
  • view an online map. Please note only SSMRCA staff can confirm if your property is affected by O. Reg. 176/06.

What do I need to submit with my permit application?

The permit application outlines all of the information that must be submitted with your application. Please keep in mind that all proposed development on the property can be covered under one application which in most cases is valid for one year and an option to renew for an additional year (i.e. single family dwelling, well, septic, garage, etc.).
The application must be accompanied by a site plan with scale and dimensions such as (please see Sample Site Plan):
  • Area and lot line dimensions of the subject property.
  • Location of the subject property in relation to surrounding streets, concession roads, buildings etc.
  • Location, area, and dimensions of other existing structures on the property.
  • Proposed location, area and dimensions of all new/proposed structures.
  • Location and approximate area of any watercourses, wetlands, ponds, ravines, drainage routes (spring flooding), drains or swales either on or near the property.
  • Existing and proposed grades and/or drainage.
  • Location of slopes, fill area and setback distances.

Is there a fee for this?

The SSMRCA charges a fee for an application requiring a formal permit under O. Reg. 176/06. The fee is determined by the type of work to be undertaken. A fee schedule is part of the permit application package available at our office, on our website, or you may request it via email or fax.

How do I apply for a permit?

Pre-consultation with SSMRCA staff is strongly encouraged for all applications to determine the information which needs to be submitted as part of an application to be considered complete. The level of detail required to be submitted depends upon the natural hazards which are associated with the property as well as the scale and complexity of the proposal. Additional information may be required depending upon submission details.
Gather all the relevant information about your proposed project. Our staff can advise you if you need a permit and how to obtain the one. We can also tell you the cost and how long it will take for approval. In order to help you, you should bring the following information with you:
·         Detailed property information including the civic address or lot and concession number or roll number.
·         A site plan and/or property survey (please see Sample Site Plan)
·         Payment of applicable fee (cash, cheque, debit or credit card)
Please note that incomplete applications are not subject to the SSMRCA’s review timelines.

What if I'm planning in-water work?

In the past, the SSMRCA worked as a one-window stop for residents of the area to access approvals/permits/authorizations from several provincial and federal agencies.
Under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF), the Public Lands Act or other acts such as the Lakes Rivers Improvement Act may require an authorization or permit for projects in or near the water. MNRF has established timing window guidelines to restrict in-water work during certain periods in order to protect fish from impacts of works or undertakings in and around water during spawning migrations and other critical life stages.
It is the responsibility of the applicant to register their project with the MNRF. For more information contact them at 1-855-613-4256, Email:

I heard there were changes to the Federal Fisheries Act, how will this affect my application?

Changes in the Federal Fisheries Act which came into effect on November 25, 2013 have changed the way projects (in or near the water) are now reviewed.
Applicants can learn more about the process at or contact Fisheries and Oceans Canada directly by phone at 1-855-852-8320 or by email at
Information contained on the Fisheries and Oceans Canada website will allow proponents to self-assess their project and if required submit an application.
The SSMRCA will continue to administer Ontario Regulation 176/06 – Development, Interference with Wetlands and Alterations to Shorelines and Watercourses using a science-based approach as well as the tools provided by the Ontario Conservation Authorities Act in the area under our jurisdiction.

What happens with my application once it has been submitted?

Once your application is received and considered to be complete by the SSMRCA, it will be assigned a file number, reviewed by staff and a site visit will be carried out to access the application and specific site conditions. A detailed report and recommendation for approval or denial are provided to the General Manager who can then issue a permit.
From the date the application is considered complete by the SSMRCA, an applicant can expect to be notified in writing of approval or denial within 14 days for Routine permit applications, 21 days for Minor permit applications and 28 days for Major permit applications depending on the complexity.
Should an application be denied, the applicant can withdraw or revise their application, or the decision may be appealed within 30 days to the the Environment and Land Tribunals Ontario (ELTO).
Copies of approved permits are sent to the municipality, to the property owner and to the contractor/agent if applicable.