Natural Areas

Core Areas

ore Areas represent the largest building blocks of a Natural Heritage System by:

  • sustaining species populations
  • performing important ecological functions such as groundwater recharge and discharge, flood and erosion control
  • breeding and foraging habitat for wildlife

Owning land in or adjacent to a core area

Core Areas are the most important components of the Natural Heritage System in terms of biodiversity, productivity, and ecological and hydrological functions. Careful thought should be given to these areas during the development review process before any proposed land use can take place.

Hamilton’s Official Plan provides these definitions for development and site alteration.


Development is the creation of a new lots, change in land use, or the construction of buildings or structures that require approval under the Planning Act, such as:

Site alteration

Site alteration is activities such as grading, excavation and the placement of fill that would change the landform and natural vegetative characteristics of a site, but does not include:

  • The construction of facilities for transportation, infrastructure and utility uses by a public body
  • Activities or works under the Drainage Act
  • The carrying out of agricultural practices on land that was being used for agricultural uses on the date the Greenbelt Plan came into effect

Where is development and site alteration not allowed?

The City does not allow development and site alteration:

  • within provincially significant wetlands, significant coastal wetlands or significant habitat of threatened and endangered species
  • in other Core Areas or on lands adjacent to Core Areas unless it has been proven that there will be no negative impacts on the features and their ecological functions.

The City requires an Environmental Impact Statement to determine whether there would be negative impacts on a Core Area.