creek in niagara region


NPCA Statement on Creek Maintenance and Debris

NPCA Response, May 3, 2021

The NPCA recognizes the benefits of a healthy environment, as do our many municipal partners and environmental stakeholders. In the NPCA’s capacity as one of the local environmental champions, we are committed to working with all of our municipal partners in the ongoing effort of improving the health of the Niagara Peninsula watershed for the benefit of our residents. The NPCA regularly makes itself available to municipalities for advice on these issues through various departments, and has staff representation on several municipal Environmental Advisory Committees (EAC), to further provide two-way communication and direct access to subject matter expertise.

With regards to irrigation channels and municipal drains, NPCA staff have been in conversation with the drainage staff at the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. The focus of these discussions are potential options for an annual standing approval for vegetation management for known problem areas (phragmites) and near municipal infrastructure (irrigation pumps), so that municipal staff can address the issues over the course of a full year, as required, without having to come back to the NPCA each time they want to conduct routine maintenance.

With regards to creek debris and maintenance, a natural watercourse flowing through one’s property is a wonderful amenity, however it comes with some responsibility. While the NPCA does regulate works in and around watercourses, it does not own or maintain local creeks and rivers on private property.

On private property, the responsibility to clear away fallen trees from a creek rests with the property owner. In similar fashion, the responsibility to address any erosion issues rests with the property owner. Through our permit process, the NPCA will review any erosion mitigation work to ensure that it is undertaken in a proper manner. We would like to note that the NPCA’s Restoration Grant Program affords landowners the opportunity to access grant money for their projects if it will serve to improve the environmental health of the watercourse. Landowners can visit the NPCA’s website to view program’s details:

Any landowners who wish to “clean up” their sections of a watercourse should proactively discuss their intentions with the NPCA, as review and approval may be required. They may also be subject to other legislation such as the Fisheries Act, Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act, Species at Risk Act, among others. 

It is important to note that this is not a situation unique to Niagara-on-the-Lake. With the widespread death of ash trees across the watershed, these dead standing trees are now starting to fall over and break apart. One of the impacts unfortunately, is that due to the wet locations preferred by ash, many are falling into watercourses at a rate that landowners and agencies are having difficulty keeping up with.

The NPCA is committed to working with our municipal partners and community. Staff from NPCA and the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake have had ongoing meetings in the past and will be meeting again this week to discuss a range of matters.


For more information on the above statement, please contact:
Erika Navarro, Communications Specialist