About Us

About the NPCA

The Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) is a community-based natural resource management agency that protects, enhances, and sustains healthy watersheds. With over 60 years of experience, the NPCA offers watershed programs and services that focus on flood and hazard management, source water protection, species protection, ecosystem restoration, community stewardship, and land management. The NPCA is one of 36 Conservation Authorities in the Province of Ontario and manages 41 Conservation Areas within the Niagara Peninsula watershed held in public trust for recreation, heritage preservation, conservation, and education.

 

The Niagara Peninsula Watershed: A Natural Treasure 

NPCA WATERSHED MAP

A watershed is the land that drains into a particular watercourse such as a stream, river, lake. Gravity and the land’s topography (the high and low areas) move water, rain, and snowmelt across the landscape from one area to another. 

The Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority’s watershed area encompasses 2,424 km2, including the entire regional municipality of Niagara, portions of the City of Hamilton (21%), and Haldimand County (25%). Since time immemorial, this area has been the home to Indigenous peoples – a place for sharing, trading, hunting, gathering, stewardship, and friendship. Currently, the watershed supports a population of approximately 520,000 people. 

The Niagara Peninsula watershed is a natural treasure of distinct cultural, geological, hydrological, and biological aspects not found elsewhere in North America. It is part of the Carolinian life zone – the most biodiverse and threatened ecoregion in Canada. The Niagara Peninsula watershed boasts approximately 30% natural cover that provides critical habitat such as forested woodlots, slough forests, alvars, and coastal wetlands that support rich biodiversity, including rare plants and animals. 

The watershed is uniquely situated between two Great Lakes, with the Niagara River as a boundary shared with the United States of America. As a result, the watershed area includes several notable natural features such as the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Reserve, the Niagara Falls, Wainfleet Bog, Ball’s Falls, Willoughby Marsh, and other significant landforms such as the Fonthill Kame ice contact-delta complex. The unique microclimate created by the Niagara Escarpment and rich soils supports one of Ontario’s most productive agriculture systems, including vineyards, tender fruit orchards, livestock, and various specialty crops (greenhouses for flowers, vegetables, sod farms, and mushroom farms). 

These important watershed features provide life-sustaining benefits for all and many opportunities to discover nature and culture. 


Strategic Plan - 2021-2031

Vision

Nature for all. 
We envision a healthy and vibrant environment with shared greenspace and clean water that sustains life for future generations. 

Mission

To create a common ground for conservation-inspired action and accountability to nature.

Guiding Principles

Watersheds transcend municipal boundaries. 
We are committed to working with the watershed community to support and create climate-resilient and connected natural systems.

Natural green infrastructure is critical to life. 
Our day-to-day work conserves and restores our communities’ integral ecological, socio-economic, public safety, and health services.
  
Diverse experiences and ideas lead to better and stronger collective impact and outcomes. 
We seek to exemplify inclusion and equity through meaningful engagement and collaboration.

Innovation requires learning from each other and the past.
As a result, we are progressive, resilient, adaptable, and strive for continuous improvement to remain a trusted and valued partner. 

Core Values 

Integrity  
Respect 
Customer Service 
Conservation Leadership 

STRATEGIC GOALS

Healthy and Climate Resilient Watersheds 

Improving nature for the betterment of all life across the watershed.

Goal 1.1

Support evidence-based decision-making for climate-resilient watersheds and shorelines
To achieve this goal, the NPCA will

  • Expand and enhance monitoring and associated tools to fill information gaps and research needs
  • Lead water quality (e.g., surface and groundwater) and quantity monitoring throughout the NPCA jurisdiction
  • Support municipal partners with watershed data collection and analysis to understand cumulative impacts
  • Develop a solid understanding of climate impacts and risks on NPCA watersheds
  • Implement the Source Protection Program as mandated by the Conservation Authorities Act and Clean Water Act

Performance Indicator
Robust data collection program established by 2023 and data gaps filled by 2026

Goal 1.2 Protect people and properties from natural hazards and climate impacts
To achieve this goal, the NPCA will

  • Implement permitting and regulations under section 28 of the Conservation Authorities Act
  • Deliver accurate, real-time information for flood forecasting, messaging, and warning using state-of-the-art technology and communication tools
  • Complete and maintain updated floodplain and regulation mapping within the watershed
  • Develop a watershed-based resource management strategy as mandated by the Conservation Authorities Act.
  • Update shoreline management plans with a climate resilience lens

Performance Indicator
A climate risk and vulnerability strategy developed by 2023

Goal 1.3: Restore and enhance natural habitat, water resources, and forest cover
To achieve this goal, the NPCA will

  • Expand restoration program service offerings
  • Integrate watershed planning information (e.g., GIS, water quality, biological data) proactively targeting restoration efforts
  • Develop programs aimed at urban and rural landowners (e.g., urban stewardship program, agricultural best management practices)
  • Understand the carbon potential of NPCA natural systems to examine the feasibility of voluntary carbon offsetting
  • Lead special projects that improve water quality and ecosystem health (e.g., Niagara River Remedial Action Plan)

Performance Indicator
Increased area (ha) of protected and restored habitat by 2032


Goal 1.4: Manage NPCA lands to increase biodiversity, habitat connectivity, and natural cover
To achieve this goal, the NPCA will

  • Develop management plans for each NPCA property as mandated by the Conservation Authorities Act
  • Develop plans to manage invasive species and enhance biodiversity at NPCA properties (e.g., forest management plan)
  • Complete and implement the NPCA land acquisition strategy
  • Implement regulations under section 29 of the Conservation Authorities Act
  • Develop plans to manage invasive species and enhance biodiversity at NPCA properties (e.g., forest management plan)

Performance Indicator
Management plans completed for 100% of NPCA properties by 2031
 

Supporting Sustainable Growth 

Helping to create resilient communities through land-use planning and the use of sustainable technologies. to prepare for a changing climate and related environmental challenges

Goal 2.1 Maintain a high standard of client services, tools, and procedures for planning review and permits
To achieve this goal, the NPCA will:

  • Continuously improve implementing NPCA Client Services Standard for Plan and Permit Review protocol to support streamlining, efficiency, and transparency
  • Refine decision-support tools for efficient application management and review
  • Enhance customer service feedback mechanisms to support performance evaluation and reporting
  • Communicate the role and responsibilities of NPCA in plan review and permitting

Performance Indicator
Improvement in client service metrics year over year

Goal 2.2 Lead an integrated watershed management approach to support planning and policy for protecting and enhancing watersheds
To achieve this goal, the NPCA will

  • Implement a proactive sub-watershed work program to complement and inform the quaternary and sub-watershed planning for growth areas within Niagara Region
  • Support municipalities and the development sector to implement smart growth principles (e.g., preserve open space, farmland, natural areas, reduce urban sprawl)
  • Lead a proactive research agenda to determine cumulative watershed impacts and applied solutions from extreme weather and land-use changes
  • Develop policies and procedures for land dedication that support conservation and watershed enhancement through the planning process

Performance Indicator
100% of sub-watershed plans for future growth areas updated by 2031

Goal 2.3 Lead the implementation of sustainable technologies and green infrastructure best practices for climate resilience and sustainability
To achieve this goal, the NPCA will

  • Advance the implementation of green infrastructure best practices in future development proposals and through NPCA's demonstration projects to minimize impacts to the watershed
  • Engage municipalities, the development community, and other private landowners in implementing green infrastructure and sustainability best practices and actions
  • Identify opportunities for brownfields to enhance green infrastructure or innovative planning for in-fill development
  • Develop education materials/programs to inform the public about sustainable best practices

Performance Indicator
A green infrastructure and sustainable technologies program established at NPCA by 2026
 

Connecting People to Nature 

Improving access to and connections with nature for the health and well-being of all people.
Goal 3.1 Create equitable access to greenspace for the health and well-being of people.
To achieve this goal, the NPCA will

  • Identify and remove socio-economic barriers to accessing NPCA properties and programs
  • Proactively seek opportunities to enhance trail connections with active transportation routes
  • Highlight and promote recreation (e.g., cycling, hiking, walking, birdwatching) opportunities at NPCA properties
  • Improve services and visitor experiences at NPCA properties (e.g., buildings, trail maps, wayfinding, and accessibility, where possible)

Performance Indicator
Public greenspace within urban or near-urban areas increased by 2031.

Goal 3.2 Lead nature education, environmental stewardship, and volunteerism.
To achieve this goal, the NPCA will

  • Implement an outreach, stewardship, and education strategy for nature education and engagement opportunities
  • Strengthen and continue to deliver education programs for various socio-economic and multi-lingual groups
  • Enhance volunteer opportunities for all age groups
  • Expand opportunities for citizen-science monitoring

Performance Indicators

  • An outreach, stewardship and education strategy developed by 2024
  • 100% of actions from outreach, stewardship, and education strategy implemented by 2031

Goal 3.3 Improve cultural connections and heritage appreciation.
To achieve this goal, the NPCA will

  • Maintain and honour heritage buildings at NPCA properties, including St. John's, Cave Springs, Ball's Falls, and Rockway Conservation Areas
  • Examine opportunities to expand cultural connections and heritage programming at all conservation areas
  • Work with municipalities on heritage listing and designation of NPCA buildings and properties

Performance Indicators

  • A cultural heritage strategy developed by 2025
  • 100% of actions from cultural heritage strategy implemented by 2032


Goal 3.4 Promote the watershed as a destination of choice for adventure, culture, and ecological tourism
To achieve this goal, the NPCA will

  • Develop a marketing and ecotourism strategy to support safe and sustainable visits to NPCA properties
  • Optimize visitor experience at NPCA properties
  • Enhance and promote ecotourism opportunities at NPCA properties
  • Provide sustainable tourism opportunities across the watershed by working with partners (e.g., DMOs, municipalities, Indigenous groups)

Performance Indicators

  • A marketing and ecotourism strategy developed by 2025
  • 100% of actions from marketing and ecotourism strategy implemented by 2031

Partner of Choice 

Strengthening our relationships with stakeholders, partners, the watershed community, and Indigenous peoples toward shared stewardship, knowledge exchange, and collective impact.
Goal 4.1 Strengthen government relations toward collective outcomes and impact
To achieve this goal, the NPCA will

  • • Develop a government relations strategy
  • • Execute Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) and Service-Level Agreements (SLAs) with Niagara's lower-tier municipalities
  • • Establish the NPCA as an environmental service provider to municipals partners with co-management and delivery of programs and projects of mutual interest
  • • Partner with government agencies to advance mutual goals

Performance Indicator

Agreements with all three upper-tier municipalities in 2022 and 100% of lower-tier municipalities by 2026


Goal 4.2 Foster relationships with the community, non-government organizations, businesses, agriculture, industry, and academic institutions for collective outcomes and impact
To achieve this goal, the NPCA will

  • Implement a stakeholder and community engagement strategy
  • Collaborate with local educational institutions (e.g., school boards, colleges, and universities) on mutual research interests that enhance knowledge sharing
  • Provide technical expertise to support our partners and their work through agreements
  • Collaborate with non-government organizations, businesses, agriculture, and industry on projects/initiatives that enhance stewardship and advance mutual goals

Performance Indicators

  • A stakeholder and community engagement strategy developed by 2025
  • 100% of actions from stakeholder and community strategy implemented by 2031

Goal 4.3 Improve engagement with local First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples that supports shared stewardship
To achieve this goal, the NPCA will

  • Implement actions that support Truth and Reconciliation with Indigenous peoples
  • Provide mentorship and employment opportunities that support the cross-cultural exchange of knowledge
  • Proactively engage with Indigenous peoples and seek diverse perspectives on land management and shared stewardship
  • Expand Indigenous cultural programming and ensure recognition and acknowledgment of Indigenous heritage on future signage at NPCA properties
  • Provide Indigenous awareness training for NPCA staff

Performance Indicators

  • Indigenous engagement guidelines developed in 2022
  • Staff provided with Indigenous awareness training

Organizational Excellence

Striving for excellence through high service delivery standards and accountability to the environment and its people.
Goal 5.1 Attract, retain, and invest in high caliber, diverse talent to deliver superior outcomes
To achieve this goal, the NPCA will

  • Ensure adequate staff capacity and resources required to deliver on superior outcomes
  • Provide relevant training and advancement opportunities to support staff learning and professional growth
  • Implement health and safety and corporate wellness programs for staff well-being
  • Modernize human resource policies and practices to encourage a healthy work environment
  • Encourage a culture of innovation to find new ways of doing NPCA work

Performance Indicators

  • A talent management strategy developed in 2022
  • 100% of actions in the talent management strategy implemented by 2031

Goal 5.2 Improve internal operations and processes
To achieve this goal, the NPCA will

  • Enhance tools and procedures for program and project management, planning, reporting
  • Modernize and invest in digital technology to enhance internal processes (e.g., administrative record management, customer relationship management system)
  • Deploy tools for efficient internal and external information sharing (e.g., online open data hub)
  • Provide staff training on new technologies as they are deployed
  • Implement a record management program and policy

Performance Indicators

  • A digital transformation strategy developed in 2023
  • 100% of actions in the digital transformation strategy implemented by 2031


Goal 5.3 Provide high standards of customer service
To achieve this goal, the NPCA will

  • Develop customer service guidelines and improve customer service feedback mechanisms
  • Implement a client management system that facilitates overall governance and relevant information sharing.
  • Provide equitable access to information (e.g., AODA standards)
  • Utilize various communication tools & tactics to facilitate engagement

Performance Indicators

  • Customer service guidelines developed in 2022
  • All staff provided customer service training


Goal 5.4 Lead sustainable practices through NPCA lands and operations to address climate change
To achieve this goal, the NPCA will

  • Develop a Corporate Climate Change Strategy to implement actions that reduce the NPCA's climate impacts and carbon footprint
  • Employ low-impact development techniques at key NPCA properties as demonstration sites
  • Develop a program to support other local organizations to become leaders in conservation
  • Develop a feasibility study to build a carbon-neutral NPCA headquarters

Performance Indicators

  • A corporate climate change strategy created by 2026
  • 100% of actions in corporate climate change strategy implemented by 2031

 

Financial Sustainability 

Ensuring a financially stable and sustainable organization and continued service-delivery through innovative business models, diverse funding sources, and best practices.
Goal 6.1 Ensure responsible, sustainable, and sound fiscal practices
To achieve this goal, the NPCA will

  • Develop a business plan based on the Conservation Authority Act's direction on programs and services
  • Consistently review and update fee schedules to retain current increases
  • Demonstrate the value of NPCA programs and services to stakeholders and municipal partners
  • Deploy a full cost recovery model for fee-for-service programs and services

Performance Indicator
Variance against the budget no greater than 20%

Goal 6.2 Optimize self-generating revenue using innovative approaches
To achieve this goal, the NPCA will

  • Broaden opportunities for potential revenue streams at passive conservation areas (e.g., donation boxes)
  • Identify fee-for-service opportunities through partnership agreements for various expert services
  • Explore varied funding sources and innovative partnerships to diversify funding
  • Leverage the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Foundation to help raise funds for conservation programs and projects

Performance Indicator
Increased self-generated revenue

Goal 6.3 Improve asset management and close the state of good repair gap
To achieve this goal, the NPCA will

  • Establish an asset management plan with a proactive asset management program
  • Complete and deploy a natural asset management accounting initiative and support municipalities, as appropriate
  • Implement best-practice standards for closing the state of good repair gap
  • Invest in NPCA assets (e.g., trails, buildings) and ensure they are assessed over their lifecycle

Performance Indicator
Maintenance of Good Facility Condition Index