Natural Heritage System

About the Natural Heritage System

The Natural Heritage System, which runs through the New Communities of Oakville, is made up of about 900 hectares of protected land (including woodlots, open fields, watercourses and valleys) and reflects the commitment of landowners, the town and Conservation Halton to protect and enhance the natural environment.

Keeping more people close to home, work and play is the road map for the New Communities of Oakville. The neighbourhoods will be walkable and transit-friendly. And the integration of a network of natural and open spaces with vital neighbourhood centres will create a more livable, compact urban community with a greater mix of housing and employment opportunities. Check back for more information as we start to shape the New Communities of Oakville.

The Natural Heritage System is located in the four new communities of Oakville: 407 West, Sixteen Hollow, Glenorchy and Joshua's Meadows. Download the Natural Heritage System and new communities map (pdf, 722 kB).

In comparison:

  • Stanley Park in Vancouver is about 400 hectares.
  • Central Park in New York City is about 340 hectares.
  • High Park in Toronto is about 160 hectares.

What is the size of the Natural Heritage System and where can I find it?

The Natural Heritage System (NHS) is a total of 900 hectares — 600 hectares east of Sixteen Mile Creek and about 300 hectares west of Sixteen Mile Creek. These lands are to be conveyed into public stewardship in perpetuity.

What is the Natural Heritage System made up of?

The NHS will be home to a number of terrestrial (woodlots, open fields) and aquatic systems (watercourses, valleys). It reflects the commitment of all parties involved to protect and enhance our natural environment.

Who owns the Natural Heritage System?

At the present time the land is privately owned. However, these lands are to be conveyed into public stewardship as part of the development process.

How will the town ensure the Natural Heritage System is maintained?

The Natural Heritage System has already been designated within the town’s Official Plan. The protection of the NHS will be reflected within the Urban Design Guidelines, Zoning By-law and Draft Plans of Subdivision.

Will there be any development on the Natural Heritage System?

Development within the NHS is generally not permitted. The only exceptions would be for roads within non-standard cross sections, pedestrian trails, and ponds as outlined in the North Oakville East Secondary Plan.

How was the Natural Heritage System defined?

The NHS was defined within the North Oakville Creeks Subwatershed Study and implemented within the North Oakville East and West Secondary Plans and Implementation document. The NHS will be conveyed into public stewardship.

What will become of the lands outside of the Natural Heritage System?

The area will offer housing for approximately 50,000 residents and create 25,000 jobs. It will feature a denser, more pedestrian-friendly and transit-oriented environment. The secondary plan calls for high density development along Dundas Street and Trafalgar Road. Employment lands, primarily for industrial use, will run from north of Burnhamthorpe Road up to Highway 407, although a transition zone of medium-density housing and institutional uses will be used to buffer Burnhamthorpe Road residents.

What is the total size of the lands north of Dundas?

The lands north of Dundas encompass approximately 3,100 hectares.

Will the remaining trees and woodlots be preserved?

Everything within the NHS will be preserved. Lands outside of the NSH will be developed into the new communities of Oakville that will include neighbourhood parkettes, community squares, sports fields, and community centres.

What is the purpose of the NHS road signs?

Acquiring the NHS is a huge success and the road signs will remind people of the NHS as they drive through the area. The signs will be located throughout the roadways surrounding the NHS in north Oakville.

When will development begin on these lands?

The town has started development of the North Park, on Neyagaway, just north of Dundas. Other developers will begin preparing their lands in late summer.

Natural Heritage System — Background Information


The town announced an agreement between a number of the major landowners to accept the major principles incorporated into the town’s secondary plan for north Oakville. The two major principles were that:
developers’ plans had to ensure the preservation of a sustainable natural heritage system that could maintain a diversity of species and landscapes within an urban context, and plans had to provide for walkable, compact, and diverse communities, developed in a new urbanism form.

The landowners also agreed to donate to the Halton Conservation Authority, free of charge all of the lands identified in the natural heritage system that they own.


The Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) upheld the agreement between the town and major landowners and adopted the town’s North Oakville Secondary Plan.


Development activity began with the town's North Park Sports Complex, while private developers will begin site preparation for their future subdivisions.