Land use planning is critically important for balancing human needs with the needs of the natural environment. 

NBMCA has Plan Review Agreements with its 10 member municipalities and one planning board in the NBMCA watershed to review applications submitted to municipalities. NBMCA provides watershed partners with technical advice on issues related to natural hazard management and natural heritage protection. These Agreements are currently being updated to reflect changes in the Conservation Authorities Act.

The policies and guidelines followed by NBMCA staff provide the basis for NBMCA staff’s review and comment. This technical and scientific expertise provided by NBMCA supports the environmental planning functions of municipalities.

Types of plan reviews

The types of proposals circulated to NBMCA by municipalities or planning board for review typically include:

  • Official Plans and Official Plan Amendments;
  • Zoning By-laws and Zoning By-law Amendments;
  • Plans of Subdivision and Plans of Condominium
  • Consents (severances and lot-line adjustments);
  • Minor variances;
  • Road closures; and
  • Site plan control agreements

NBMCA provides Municipal Plan Review services to the following member municipalities:  Bonfield, Callander, Chisholm, East Ferris, and North Bay as well as to the East Nipissing Planning Board (Calvin, Mattawan and Papineau-Cameron).  The Agreements currently in place and undergoing reviews and updating can be found on the Governance pages of our website.

Policies and guidelines

NBMCA is contracted by the municipalities to provide advice to the approval authority related to the Provincial Policy Statement 2020, in particular:

  • Section 1.1.5. Rural Lands in Municipalities. Ensuring compliance with the minimum distance separation formulae;
  • Section 2.0 Wise Use and Management of Resources. The Provincial Policy Statement, 2014 includes a strong policy direction to protect the province’s natural heritage, water, agricultural, mineral, and cultural heritage and archaeological resources. The protection of these important resources will help ensure Ontario’s long-term prosperity, environmental health and social well-being; and
  • Section 3.0 Protecting Public Health and Safety. The PPS 2014 protects Ontario communities through policies directing development away from areas of natural or human-made hazards where there is an unacceptable risk to public health or safety or property damage.

NBMCA has directly delegated responsibilities from the Province with respect to Natural Hazards in reference to Section 3.1 of the PPS. 

To ensure the provincial interests are met, and to appropriately assess the technical aspects of the proposal, the submission of a number of information items may be required.  The level of detail required for most study and report requirements can vary depending on the location of the property and the nature of the proposal.   In this regard, technical requirements may vary from brief discussions between qualified experts to a letter of opinion, while in other cases a scoped or comprehensive environmental study such as an environmental impact study may be necessary.   Pre-consultation meetings with NBMCA and municipal staff prior to submission of an application will help to establish the requirements for and the scope of reports and studies where needed.

Various tools and resources are used in the review, including Municipal Official Plans and Zoning By-laws; NBMCA’s Geographical Information System (GIS); NBMCA regulations and policies; checklists; and various technical guidelines.  The application is internally circulated to the necessary NBMCA technical staff for a thorough technical review. Depending upon the location and nature of the proposal, the application may be circulated to NBMCA’s water resources engineer, regulations staff, or on-site sewage systems system staff.

Upon completion of the technical review, a site inspection is conducted. The site inspection may reveal the need for further studies.  It is important to note that, based on the initial review, additional technical studies, reports and/or a revised application may be needed prior to NBMCA staff providing final comments – in particular, where pre-consultation with NBMCA staff did not occur.

A letter from NBMCA's planner is issued to the affected municipality/planning board (approval authority) outlining NBMCA’s comments and advice.

For additional information, visit the Policies & Guidelines section of the website.


NBMCA is committed to providing a thorough timely review of planning related proposals.  NBMCA will provide its comments to the Municipality or Planning Board within the following timeframe for the following types of applications:

  • Five-year Official Plan Comprehensive Review: 120 calendar days from receipt of an application from the Municipality
  • Plans of Subdivision and Condominium Applications: 60 calendar days
  • Site-specific Zoning By-law and Official Plan Amendments: 10 calendar days
  • Severances, Minor Variances and Road Closure applications: 10 calendar days
  • Site Plan Control Agreement: 10 calendar days


Plan Review Process

Municipal Referral

When a Planning Act application is submitted to a municipality, the municipal staff circulate it to NBMCA for review.

For large and complex applications (e.g. a plan of subdivision), the municipality may organize a meeting with the applicant and all of the agencies involved called a pre-consultation meeting. At the meeting, the applicant and agencies will discuss what studies and reports may be needed to support the application.

For simpler applications (e.g. a severance), the municipality will forward the application to NBMCA so Planning and Development staff can discuss the project with the applicant. During this process, NBMCA will describe the information and studies required for the review.

The Review Process

NBMCA staff will review the application and discuss it with the applicant. Staff may suggest changes to the plan so it will comply with environmental policies and regulations. At the end of the review, the NBMCA will send recommendations to the municipality for its consideration in its decision on the application.  

Other Permits

This process helps the applicant develop final plans that will meet the policies of NBMCA and other agencies, potentially saving you time and money.  It will help to determine if you need a DIA permit if any construction or development work will take place in a regulated area in or near a river, stream, steep slope, wetland, or floodplain.  For more information, go to our DIA Permit section of the website.   If an on-site sewage system is part of the project plan, you will need to obtain a permit.  For more information, go to our On-site Sewage System section of the website.