The Parrott’s Bay Conservation Area (PBCA) is owned and operated by the Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority (CRCA). It occupies 100 hectares (249 acres) of meadow and wooded uplands surrounding Parrott’s Bay. This is a bay of Lake Ontario lying within Loyalist Township, between Amherstview and Bath. The shoreline of the bay is a provincially significant coastal wetland. The waters of Parrott’s Bay are fed by two small streams in the Parrott’s Creek watershed.
This property was identified by the CRCA in the 1960s as an area of interest for protection. It was purchased in parcels as they became available beginning in the 1980s. The last parcel was acquired in 2006.
The PBCA has been operating as a conservation area for the past 20 years. There were existing trails on the property and, as property has been purchased, some additional facilities have been developed. The recent completion of land acquisition means that it’s time to do an overall master plan for the property. This master plan will evaluate and guide the operations, development and maintenance of this property over the next 20 years.
Why a master plan?
The CRCA prepares master plans to guide the management, operation and development of its properties. These plans define property uses, development and policies in accordance with CRCA goals.
Why is Parrott’s Bay Conservation Area important?
- It is an area of outstanding natural beauty.
- It provides a place for quiet, rest and contemplation in a natural setting.
- It provides a buffer for a Provincially Significant Wetland (PSW).
- It is home to many species of plants and animals that are locally and provincially significant.
- It contains culturally significant features and history that enrich the community and link to the area’s heritage.
- It is a connecting habitat and species link between the Lake Ontario shoreline and inland wetlands, woodlands and alvars.
The Master Plan Process
The master plan process began in the spring of 2008. Its intent is to create a clear policy framework for the ongoing protection, development and management of this property as a conservation area.
As part of preparing this master plan, several projects were completed to establish a base of up-to-date background material. These included:
- A background material and document review.
- Holding a facilitated focus group discussion.
- Analyzing the potential market opportunities in the area.
- Conducting an ecological classification of the lands on this site.
Executive Summary and Recommendations
The property known as Parrott’s Bay Conservation Area (PBCA) has operated for more than 20 years without a master plan while lands surrounding the bay were acquired. It is that existing need to create this plan and policy for guiding the area’s management that is the primary drive to complete it for the CRCA and Loyalist Township.
In 2001 the CRCA adopted a new strategic plan that outlined goals to guide the overall development of Authority properties through the next 20 years. It is the goals set out in this strategy, and other CRCA policy documents, that will guide the development and implementation of the master plan and its associated recommendations.
Although there is limited data regarding the people that visit PBCA, visitors are likely to come from three different populations: those within walking distance, people from nearby Amherstview and those who are from further afield.
The population using PBCA, like the population of Ontario, is growing and aging and this trend is expected to continue. Development of the surrounding area and communities is also expected to continue. PBCA, with its passive and low-impact recreational activities that are becoming more in demand, will continue to be valued for those leisure opportunities and nature experiences.
The following is a set of the recommendations contained within the master plan:
- Any future development proposed beyond the existing developed areas (existing trails, mown areas, etc.) will be reviewed independently for potential impacts to sensitive areas/plant communities.
- Any development plans should be presented a year in advance so that biological assessments can be made through the following field season, prior to the work being undertaken.
- So far as resources allow, the current inventory of species that use and rely on PBCA should be updated as required, to assist in determining further protection and retention measures.
- An awareness and appreciation for Parrott’s Bay Conservation Area should be fostered throughout the community. This can be achieved through enhanced communication with municipalities, schools, local clubs, and online through the CRCA web-site; and also through participation in grassroots and government initiatives that promote, protect and preserve natural resources and encourage healthy active living.
- Planning for Parrott’s Bay Conservation Area should consider that the surrounding population is projected to grow and will have an increasingly high percentage of older people.
- Planned outdoor recreation activities should complement and respect the continued conservation and protection of the area.
- Plan improvements that help visitors find their way on the trails, and that can also provide interpretive information and activities as part of their experiences.
- Partner with local volunteers from the community to conduct projects such as: fundraising or community cleanups of the site.
- Support the establishment and development of a community-led Friends group for PBCA.
To view a copy of the Conceptual Development Map (Figure 5) click on the image to the right.