Municipal Government Act (2000)
The Municipal Government Act gives municipal governments control and management over watercourses and bodies of water within their municipality and allows for a municipality to declare spaces as an Environmental Reserve or Conservation Easement. The Act governs how municipalities can manage their lands. While the municipalities own and manage lands containing wetlands, natural wetlands are still crown property.
Section 60(1) “Subject to any other enactment, a municipality has the direction, control and management of the rivers, streams, watercourses, lakes and other natural bodies of water within the municipality, including the air space above and the ground below.”
Land designated as an environmental reserve is considered essential to the protection and enhancement of the environment. To register land as an environmental reserve the land must remain in its natural state. Municipalities are able to take the entirety of ravines, floodplains, or unstable ground as a reserve and allows for them to buffer around any body of water to allow access or prevent pollution. Additionally, municipalities can declare a space to be a conservation easement; the land remains in the ownership of the land owner who may receive tax benefits due to any reduction in value or reduced potential for development. Municipalities must develop area structure plans to provide guidelines for any setbacks.
664(1) Subject to section 663, a subdivision authority may require the owner of a parcel of land that is the subject of a proposed subdivision to provide part of that parcel of land as environmental reserve if it consists of
a) a swamp, gully, ravine, coulee or natural drainage course
b) land that is subject to flooding or is, in the opinion of the subdivision authority, unstable, or
c) a strip of land, not less than 6 metres in width, abutting the bed and shore of any lake, river, stream or other body of water for the purpose of
i) preventing pollution, or
ii) providing public access to and beside the bed and shore