Managing Belfountain Conservation Area
We have developed a new management plan for Belfountain Conservation Area. This management plan also includes the adjacent Willoughby Property (owned by the Ontario Heritage Trust and managed by CVC), and the Cox Property.
The management plan establishes a new vision and objectives for the conservation area that sets directions and responds to current pressures. It will guide natural resource management, capital investments, recreation and visitor experiences over the next 25 years.
The Planning Process
The planning process undertaken for Belfountain Conservation Area was comprehensive. We developed a detailed management plan and nested a Conservation Ontario Class Environmental Assessment for Remedial and Flood Control Projects (Class EA) into the planning framework. The Class EA focused specifically on the Belfountain dam and headpond area.
Belfountain Conservation Area is part of the Niagara Escarpment Parks and Open Space System (NEPOSS) and we followed the NEPOSS guidelines for management planning. The planning process included the following phases.
Phase I of the Belfountain Conservation Area Management Plan included a comprehensive review of:
- Opportunities and limitations
- Natural heritage
- Cultural heritage
- Existing resources
- Planning initiatives
- Local community and role of the public
This phase was completed in February 2014 with the release of the Belfountain Complex Management Plan – Background Report.
Phase II of the Belfountain Conservation Area Management Plan included:
- Consulting with the public, stakeholders and provincial agencies.
- Developing the Strategic Directions Report – Stage 1 which includes results and issues identified in the background report and public consultations.
- Developing the Strategic Directions Report – Stage 2 which summarizes public input and the work of committees.
Phase III of the Belfountain Conservation Area Management Plan included:
- Developing the Belfountain Conservation Area Management Plan which presents the management directions, projects, programs and implementation schedules.
- Sharing the management plan draft with CVC staff and government agencies for review and comment.
- Securing endorsement from the Niagara Escarpment Commission and approval from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.
CVC completed and received approval of a Class EA for the Belfountain Dam and Headpond area. The Class EA addresses safety concerns and environmental impacts associated with the dam, headpond and related infrastructure while also taking into account:
- Natural features
- Cultural features
- Social features
- Environmental features
- Economic features
A complete document package pertaining to this Class EA can be found in our documents library.
Key Features of the Plan
Belfountain Conservation Area is a unique and fascinating fusion of nature and history, where generations of people will discover the iconic escarpment and Credit River Valley landscape and where the curiosities of a century-old park will continue to inspire love and connection to this special place.
The vision is supported by five objectives that describe how the success of the Plan will be measured:
- Protect: Protect and enhance biodiversity and significant natural heritage features and functions of Belfountain Conservation Area
- Conserve: Conserve and celebrate the unique cultural heritage of Belfountain Conservation Area
- Connect: Promote the unique identity of Belfountain Conservation Area, and cultivate its connection with the local community, region and tourism partners
- Sustain: Employ innovative, viable solutions to ensure a well-managed, safe conservation area that is financed through secure, sustainable means
- Experience: Provide visitors with opportunities for sustainable and accessible recreation and to discover, appreciate and experience Belfountain Conservation Area
Frequently Asked Questions
Reviews answers to frequently asked questions about the Belfountain Conservation Area Management Plan.
Belfountain Conservation Area is located on the Niagara Escarpment, within the Town of Caledon. The conservation area is 56 hectares (138 acres) and composed of three separate properties:
- Belfountain Conservation Area proper
- Willoughby Property (owned by the Ontario Heritage Trust, managed by CVC)
- Cox Property
Belfountain Conservation Area is renowned for its significant natural and cultural features. Large portions of the property are identified as part of a provincial Area of Natural and Scientific Interest and an Environmentally Significant Area, as well as a Cultural Heritage Landscape. The West Credit River, steep slopes of the Credit River Valley, rare species, winding trail system, and the rich history and remnants of early industry, define Belfountain Conservation Area as a unique and important part of CVC’s conservation areas system.
The new management plan was developed to address the many pressures facing Belfountain Conservation Area. Pressures include:
- Increased visitation
- Aging and insufficient infrastructure
- Environmental degradation
- Site security
- Cultural heritage preservation
These challenges, coupled with structural and safety concerns of the Belfountain dam, provided the impetus for the management plan.