8.0 Perth Catchment: Actions/Opportunities
The Town of Perth is the focal point of the Perth catchment drainage area. It is a local and regional centre that offers employment and many important services to residents of the Town and the Tay Watershed. In the past, the Town relied heavily on its land and water resources to provide a living for town folk. This reliance continues today, albeit in a similar but somewhat different form. Furthermore, it is recognised that these land and water resources contribute to the Town's identity as a multi-faceted community with a small town atmosphere, where people like it for its size, friendliness, quietness, safety, beauty and proximity to nature. All of these factors make it a much desired place to live, work and play.
Perth has an established interest and commitment to environmental stewardship. The basic premise for community sustainability is that environmental health is critical to human beings and to the wide diversity of plant and animal species with which we co-exist. The quality of its communities and standard of living depends on the air we breathe and the water that we drink, as well as the quality of the soil in the backyards where we play and in the fields and gardens from which our food is produced. In the coming years, human prosperity will depend on the health of the natural environment and the quality of human managed spaces.
The Official Plan of the Town of Perth contains many policies to address this vision and the aspirations of Council and the citizens of the Town of Perth, who recognise that protecting and nurturing a healthy environment through environmental stewardship is a community imperative for the benefit of current citizens and as a legacy to future generations. Accordingly, land use decisions (and subsequent land management practices) should strive to find ways and means to improve or enhance the quality and vitality of both the human dominated and natural environment and should not simply maintain the status quo. The Town of Perth Strategic Plan also contains a number of strategic initiatives to support this vision.
Many of these policies are aligned with RVCA's strategic interests (as described in its 2020 Strategic Plan) and complement its watershed resources management efforts across the Rideau Valley Watershed, including those described in the Tay River Subwatershed Report (2017) and Perth Catchment Report (2017).
The introduction to this section of the report along with the following list of actions/opportunities includes a number of passages/provisions taken from the Town's Official and Strategic Plans, which are presented as actions to help Perth achieve its vision for the long-term, sustainable environmental stewardship of its land and water resources.
8.1.1 Town of Perth
Perth's vision for development embraces the concept of sustainable community development through land use and infrastructure development decisions and operational practices that integrate human needs with the natural and built environment. Land use approvals and infrastructure redevelopment decisions will include sustainable design measures for transportation, infrastructure, waste management, energy systems and will strive for the efficient use of natural resources and preservation of historic, cultural and natural heritage features. The vision intends to be adaptive to innovative design and human activities that support sustainability (O.P. 1.2.17).
Perth's comprehensive and sustainable approach to development requires that new Greenfield areas and larger development sites (including the new neighbourhoods planned for the Western Annexed Lands and north of Dufferin Street) are planned in an integrated and holistic manner, which recognises and accounts for natural hazards and natural heritage systems. This includes:
18.104.22.168 Council's consideration of development in the new residential areas planned for the Town, prior to the development of existing residential areas, when the proponent submits a comprehensive plan and supporting studies that address a number of land use matters, including the following provisions addressing the Town's vision for environmental stewardship (O.P. 5.2.F):
- integration of storm-water management facilities and drainage and grade controls;
- conservation of natural heritage features and areas and/or measures to mitigate the impact of development on these features;
- compliance with applicable Conservation Authority regulations and provincial requirements with respect to avoidance of flooding hazards; and avoidance of other natural hazards consistent with the Provincial Policy Statement.
22.214.171.124 Council's consideration of large scale development or the initial phase of development on lands with potential for additional development, whereby such applications shall submit a sustainable design report that demonstrates (O.P. 126.96.36.199.):
- how a proposed development will sustain sensitive natural heritage features or retain character defining natural features of a site such has hedgerows or stands of healthy, mature, indigenous trees;
- a sustainable building or project design that addresses or creates interconnectedness between natural features, the site topography, the surrounding landscape and the intended built form;
- a cohesive and sequential relationship of the development project to existing or planned development on adjacent properties, including the integration of infrastructure and utilities and will include energy conservation features.
188.8.131.52 Council's use of Low Impact Development (LID) measures, including (O.P. 184.108.40.206.):
- minimising excavation, compaction and grade/slope alterations;
- reducing hard surfaces and increasing porous surfaces;
- maximising site biomass through generous landscaping and/or retention/restoration of vegetation cover;
- using runoff water on site to reduce demand for outdoor watering or to reintroduce/support naturalized habitats;
- designing building envelopes to optimise the retention of natural features, retain soil and vegetation cover, reduce or minimise hard surfaces or replace with porous surfaces, retain and recycle storm-water;
- reducing the consumption of water resources through low-use water fixtures, reuse of grey water/wastewater, harvesting and recycling rainwater, use of swales, using low water demand and drought resistant plants for landscaping, etc.
8.1.2 Perth Catchment
Work with approval authorities (Town of Perth, Township of Drummond/North Elmsley, Lanark County, Leeds Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit and the Mississippi Rideau Septic System Office) and waterfront property owners to consistently implement current land use planning and development policies for in-stream aquatic habitat, shoreline protection and surface water quality adjacent to, and in the Tay River and its tributaries (i.e, a minimum 30 metre development setback from water).
Explore ways and means to more effectively enforce and implement conditions of land-use planning and development approval to achieve net environmental gains (particularly with respect to rehabilitating or protecting naturally vegetated shorelines and water quality).
Encourage the Committee of Adjustment/Land Division Committee to take advantage of technical and environmental information and recommendations forthcoming from planning and environmental professionals.
Use the Tay River Subwatershed Report 2017 and this Perth Catchment Report 2017 to help develop/revise official plan policies to protect surface water resources and the natural environment (including shorelines, wetlands, woodlands and in-stream habitat).
8.2.1 Town of Perth
The Tay River and its tributaries, the Blue Berry Creek and Grant’s Creek, are natural heritage resources that serve an important ecological function within the watershed as well as an aesthetic enhancement to residents and visitors to the Town of Perth. Urban land uses and urban activities have compromised the ecological function of the riparian zone of the Tay and to a lesser extent its tributaries. The Official Plan provides for the restoration and rehabilitation of the shoreline of the Tay River and protection of shoreline areas through an integrated management approach. Council intends to achieve this through the application of the following Shoreline Management measures (O.P. 8.6.4.g.):
- Along the shoreline of the Tay River/Canal natural vegetation will be maintained, enhanced or improved. Where alterations are proposed in shoreline areas they shall be carried out with professional advice and shall meet the requirements of the Conservation Authority and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry;
- Support the recovery and restoration of the ecological function of the riparian zone of all shoreline areas in the Town through public education, cooperation with programs of the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority and through site plan approvals that support the reinstatement of aquatic and wildlife habitat and linkages;
- Shoreline areas in Stewart Park and the Last Duel Park should be naturalized to the greatest extent that is practical while retaining accessibility for the current level of passive and active recreational use and upholding the valued aesthetic appeal of Stewart Park. This will be achieved through a phased program of replanting using native riparian plant species; particularly when projects for restoring or rehabilitating eroded and degraded shoreline areas provide opportunity to replace artificial shoreline stabilisation measures with lower maintenance, self perpetuating, vegetation based solutions;
- Reduce or replace hard surfaces adjacent to the shoreline (in instances) which lead to uncontrolled runoff into the Tay River/Canal;
- Require increased setbacks from the shoreline for new buildings;
- Require proponents of construction projects to prepare, implement and monitor erosion and sediment control plans as a condition of development approval;
- Apply best storm-water management practices and require compliance with the storm-water management policies of this Plan;
- Work with neighbouring municipalities, stewardship organisations and the public to raise public awareness of the value of shoreline management, and to implement the recommendations of the Tay River Watershed Management Plan and subsequent and related documents (Fish Habitat of the Tay River Watershed: Existing Conditions and Opportunities for Enhancement 2002; Perth Catchment Report 2017; Tay River Subwatershed Report 2017).
Council's specific requirement is that development adjacent to a water-body will (O.P. 7.7.2-3.):
- Only be considered for new lots where the building and development site will be setback a minimum of 30 metres from the Shoreline Standard Elevation. Within the 30 metre setback, measures will be taken to ensure no disturbance of native soils or grades and to ensure removal of shoreline vegetation will be kept to a minimum;
- Comply with zoning requirements on existing lots of record to ensure a minimum 30 metre setback from the Standard Shoreline Elevation. Where the depth of an existing lot is such that this setback cannot be applied, development similar to or smaller than the scale of existing development on adjacent lots may be considered, but shall be placed as far from the water as possible. Reconstruction should be no closer to the shoreline and no more extensive than the existing building. Enlargement of the existing building foot print should be at the minimum 30 metre setback. A lesser setback may only be considered where the vegetated portion of the lot will exceed 35 percent, and most of the shoreline setback is either covered by existing native vegetation or will be covered by ensuring restoration of native vegetation.
Consider a partnership between the Town of Perth, Perth Horticultural Society, Friends of the Tay Watershed (FoTW) Association and RVCA to publicise and promote the shoreline naturalization methods used in the Wendy Laut Ribbon of Life demonstration area in Last Duel Park to address the degraded shoreline of the Tay River in Code and Stewart Parks and privately owned lands along the right bank of the Tay River (including dissemination of information about the value of natural shorelines and riparian program assistance)(FoTW per.comm.).
8.2.2 Perth Catchment
Take advantage of the RVCA Shoreline Naturalization Program to re-naturalize altered shoreline along the Tay River and its tributary streams identified in this report as “Unnatural Riparian Land Cover". Concentrate stewardship efforts along Tay River waterfront properties shown in orange on the Riparian Land Cover map (see Figures 52-53 in Section 4.4 of this report).
Promote the use of bioengineering methods (using native shrub/tree planting, fascines, live stakes) as a shoreline erosion mitigation measure as well as a cost effective alternative to shoreline hardening (with rip rap, armour stone, gabion baskets, walls).
8.3 Water Quality and Quantity
8.3.1 Town of Perth
Council's intent is that community sustainability in the Town of Perth is to be guided by the principle of conserving and, wherever feasible, enhancing and improving the quality of surface and groundwater sources and municipal drinking water supplies (O.P. 220.127.116.11.). Specific policies to address this provision include:
18.104.22.168 Council's intent to participate in the development of a watershed management plan (Tay River Watershed Study or other such works such as the Tay River Subwatershed Report (2017) and Perth Catchment Report (2017) as a means to identify the characteristics of water resources and to develop water quality goals and targets as the basis for the long term comprehensive management of these resources. It is recognised that this will impact on current storm water management practices in the Town and may lead to development controls or restrictions designed to maintain or improve water quality (e.g. detention ponds, pre and post flow controls, vegetation standards, infiltration techniques, treatment etc.). This may also lead to the development of a master drainage plan and a series of best management practices (O.P. 5.3.B.).
22.214.171.124 Council’s policy that stormwater management shall be required for all urban development as a preventative approach (rather than relying solely on end-of-pipe quality control) to protect surface water resources. Council's specific intent regarding this matter is to utilise the following principles in its approach to stormwater management (O.P. 5.3.C.). The RVCA strongly advocates for pre-consultation during the stormwater planning and design process:
- That natural hydrological characteristics are maintained, and where possible, enhanced as the means to protecting the base flow of watercourses;
- That the natural infiltration of water on lands which are developed is maximised;
- That proposed development will not result in increased downstream flooding or erosion or cause adverse effects on receiving waters by appropriate management of storm-water volumes and contaminant loading;
- That alterations to natural drainage systems are prohibited or at least minimised by maximising the retention of natural vegetation and by leaving stream channels in their natural form;
- That sanitary and storm water sewers are separated;
- That fish and wildlife habitat is protected, enhanced or restored including habitat linkages where affected by the discharge or outlet of drainage facilities;
- That a sustainable environmental approach is utilised in protecting water resources;
- That water quality will be monitored on an ongoing basis as the means to evaluating the effectiveness of storm water management practices;
- That the implications of new drainage and stormwater systems on Source Water Protection will be investigated, particularly with respect to discharges to Blueberry Creek and the Tay River along with any protection plans studies, policies or regulations established by the Province, the Town of Perth or other authorities.
126.96.36.199 Council's intent to incorporate stormwater management controls into the development review and approval process. Proponents of development will be required to plan for and undertake storm water management which complies with the above principles as well as any master drainage plan. This may require a subwatershed management plan for large tracts of land or a storm water site management plan. Proponents may utilise best management practices where they are consistent with and will achieve the Town's water quality and quantity targets (O.P. 5.3.D.).
188.8.131.52 In the interim (prior to the development of a master drainage plan), Council will expect proponents to assess the impact of the development on the receiving stream and to utilise a mix of site level, conveyance and end-of-pipe best management practices for the development (O.P. 5.3.E.).
184.108.40.206 Improvements to storm sewer mains (e.g. replacement or extensions) are anticipated as part of the regular program of maintenance by the Town and are deemed to comply with the Official Plan (O.P. 5.3.F.).
220.127.116.11 Council's cooperation with other levels of government and the private sector to upgrade drainage and storm water management systems to reduce contaminant and other discharges into the Tay River and its tributaries with priority given to discharge locations where water quality impacts are identified or the best water quality improvement outcomes can be achieved (O.P. 8.6.4.g.).
8.3.2 Perth Catchment
Consider further investigation of the Fair to Good surface chemistry water quality ratings on the Tay River at the Craig Street and Rogers Road monitoring sites, as part of a review of RVCA's Watershed Watch, Baseline and Benthic Invertebrate surface water quality monitoring.
Educate waterfront property owners living along the Tay River and its tributaries in the Perth catchment about septic system care by providing information about sewage system maintenance (i.e., when to pump out septic systems and holding talks) through initiatives such as the Septic Savvy Workshop.
Protect the water resources of the Tay River and Canal through implementation of the Town of Perth's, Township of Drummond/North Elmsley's and agency (Lanark County, Leeds Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit, Mississippi Rideau Septic System Office, MOE, MNR, RVCA) land use planning and development policies, practices and standards.
Promote efforts to reduce pollutant loadings to the Tay River and Canal through application of agricultural, shoreline, stormwater and wastewater best management practices; also consider using low impact development (LID) methods to improve the quality and reduce the amount of stormwater runoff reaching the Tay River ecosystem. This will be particularly beneficial in areas with extensive impervious surfaces (i.e., asphalt, concrete, buildings, and severely compacted soils) or on sensitive waterfront properties (with steep slopes/banks and/or shallow, impermeable soils).
Offer septic system project funding provided by the Rideau Valley Rural Clean Water Program to landowners in the Perth catchment with septic systems needing maintenance/remedial work or replacement.
8.4 Aquatic Habitat/Fisheries/Land Cover/Natural Heritage System
8.4.1 Town of Perth
The application of the Official Plan policies for natural heritage are designed to conserve the ecological values of existing significant natural heritage features and to enhance the biodiversity and integrity of natural heritage attributes such as wildlife corridors and connectivity through land use planning decisions. The intent of these policies is to strengthen the natural heritage system as an integral component of the Town’s land use pattern (O.P.8.6.1), while pursuing a program that integrates the principles of community sustainability with community development and redevelopment. The program will be guided by the following select set of initiatives and policies that the RVCA supports:
- Maintaining the integrity of existing ecosystems through the conservation and improvement of habitat for flora and fauna and wildlife linkages and corridors. Existing sensitive ecosystems and wildlife corridors will be respected and to the greatest extent feasible, the intent will be to improve the biodiversity (species composition and abundance) of plant and animal species in protected areas through conservation and compensation measures implemented or assured through planning and development approvals (O.P. 18.104.22.168.ii.);
- Reducing the municipality’s carbon footprint by programs to improve the health and the extent of urban forest; maximising the retention of vegetation cover, particularly tree cover and hedge rows in land and infrastructure development; also through improvements to river corridors, road allowances and parkland in the Town (O.P. 22.214.171.124.iv);
- Creating/practising a Tree Planting Program for all suitable municipal properties that complement the natural environment. Consider native trees, enabling the restoration of our natural biodiversity (Perth Strategic Plan 2.6.A);
- Emphasising designs that restore impaired habitats, rehabilitate brownfield sites, and conserve the continuity of existing ecosystems (O.P. 126.96.36.199.vii.);
- Designing to respect or allow natural movement corridors to permit movement or migration of animals, plants and natural processes such as seasonal fauna movements or preserving water channels under built features (O.P. 188.8.131.52.vii.);
- Maximising site biomass through generous landscaping and/or retention/restoration of vegetation cover (O.P. 184.108.40.206.ix.);
- Avoiding or minimising adverse effects on natural heritage features from development on adjacent lands (O.P. 8.6.3.a.);
- Identifying and protecting lands encompassing natural heritage features through the appropriate classification of such features and appropriate setbacks for development (O.P. 8.6.3.b.);
- Ensuring appropriate impact assessment is undertaken and mitigating measures are implemented (O.P. 8.6.3.c.);
- Encouraging restoration of previously disturbed lands and the establishment of adequate buffering of sensitive natural heritage features (O.P. 8.6.3.d.);
- Recognising and respecting Provincially Significant Wetlands as ecosystems which are important as habitat for a variety of plant and animal species, for water quality, flood control and water storage and recharge areas and for their passive recreational value. Development and site alteration shall not be permitted in the Perth Long Swamp, the Blueberry Creek Wetland, and the Grant’s Creek Wetland. Development and site alteration shall not be permitted on adjacent lands to these significant wetlands unless it has been demonstrated through the preparation of an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) that there will be no negative impacts on the natural features or on the ecological functions for which a specific wetland area is identified (O.P. 8.6.4 b.1-2.);
- Recognising that the main channel and tributaries of the Tay River/Canal, Grants Creek and Blueberry Creek watersheds within the Town contain fish habitat and shall be protected to retain their fish habitat values. Development and site alteration shall not be permitted in fish habitat except in accordance with provincial and federal requirements. Development and site alteration shall not be permitted on adjacent lands to fish habitat unless it has been demonstrated through the preparation of an Impact Assessment (EIS) that there will be no negative impacts on the natural features or on their ecological functions. In undertaking and approving development the Town will provide for a net gain of productive capacity wherever possible. More specifically, development and site alteration in and adjacent to fish habitat shall not result in: a) a net loss of fish habitat; b) the harmful alteration, disruption, degradation or destruction of fish habitat, and c) restriction of fish passage (O.P. 8.6.4 c.1-2.).
8.4.2 Perth Catchment
Educate waterfront property owners about fish habitat requirements, spawning timing and near-shore and in-water activities that can disturb or destroy fish habitat and spawning sites.
Work with various partners, including the Town of Perth, Drummond/North Elmsley Township, landowners and the Friends of the Tay Watershed Association on fish habitat enhancement projects in the Tay River watershed, building off of new knowledge and the recommendations as described in the report "Fish Habitat of the Tay River Watershed: Existing Conditions and Opportunities for Enhancement" (2002) prepared by MNR, RVCA, Parks Canada, and DFO.
Municipalities in the Perth catchment along with provincial agencies are encouraged to strengthen natural heritage and water resources official plan policies and zoning provisions (water setbacks, frontage and naturalized shorelines and wetland protection) where deemed appropriate.
8.5 Natural Hazards
8.5.1 Town of Perth
Natural and human-made hazards are conditions which may affect public health and safety. In the Town of Perth Planning Area, these include flood prone lands, areas susceptible to erosion, contaminated sites and noise and vibration. Some of these conditions exist in the natural environment, while others are human-made. The intent of the Plan is to ensure that where development occurs, it does not become a threat to public health and safety (O.P. 7.1).
Council's goal for natural and human-made hazards is to ensure that all development has a high regard for public health and safety through mitigating adverse effects (as defined in O.P. Section 10.2) or by prohibiting development in unsafe places (O.P. 7.2).
Council’s specific intent regarding flood plains is to protect the safety of residents and avoid undue damage of land through policies to control development in the flood plain, as follows (O.P. 7.3.2):
- The flood plain in Perth is recognised as representing the 1:100 regulatory flood level (One Zone Concept);
- Lands at or below the regulatory flood level are considered to be in the flood plain and are subject to flooding;
- No new buildings are permitted to be constructed within the flood plain except flood control structures, or low impact buildings or structures such as a gazebo, dock, garden or small storage shed or utility structures, if permitted by the applicable flood plain regulation. Other public and private activities including the construction of roads, or new structures necessary for conservation, public recreation (recreational trails, tow path), water supply, waste water management, will be permitted in the flood plain subject to the approval of Council, the Conservation Authority and where deemed necessary, shall meet a flood proofing and access standard.
- In areas (i.e. within the prescribed fill and construction lines shown on Schedule ‘A’, Land Use Plan) where ‘Fill, Construction and Alteration to Waterways’ regulations have been established under the Conservation Authorities Act, a permit shall be required for:
- the construction, reconstruction, erection or placing of a building or structure of any kind;
- any change of use to a building or structure that would have the effect of altering the use or potential use of the building or structure, increasing the size of the building or structure or increasing the number of dwelling units in the building or structure;
- site grading, or
- the temporary or permanent placing, dumping, or removal of any material, originating on the site elsewhere.
- A permit shall also be required for changing the channel of any water body or diverting a water course.The permit shall be obtained from and to the satisfaction of the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority in addition to any permits which may be required from the Town of Perth. In general, development of any kind which limits the flood capacity or the flood way, or obstructs the flood way within any prescribed fill and construction lines shall be discouraged or prohibited.
RVCA will continue to assist and support the Town of Perth with efforts to incorporate flood-risk safety considerations into the Town’s planning and decision making processes (as per the above O.P. policies) to reduce the exposure of existing and new development to flood hazard risks associated with development in and adjacent to natural hazard areas along the Tay River and elsewhere in the catchment. To be effective, this approach will require an update to the Town of Perth Comprehensive Zoning By-Law (Oct. 2000) to clearly show the floodplain constraint on the Zoning Map or Schedule A of the ZBL along with ongoing education regarding the regulatory floodplain and dialogue about its effect on development related activity.
8.5.2 Perth Catchment
Establish RVCA regulations limits around the 38 percent (253 ha.) of wetlands in the catchment that are unevaluated. Doing this will help protect landowners from natural hazards including mitigating surface water flow by storing water during periods of peak flow (such as spring snowmelt and heavy rainfall events) and releasing water during periods of low flow (this mitigation of water flow reduces flood damage), as well as contributing to the stabilisation of shorelines and to the reduction of soil erosion damage through water flow mitigation and plant soil binding/retention.
The Friends of the Tay Watershed Association has developed the Tay Net (Tay Waterway Communication Network) over the past two years to provide early notice of significant changes in water level along the Tay River. Tay Net is now developing it into a ‘Riverwatch’ program for the waterway.