Infrastructure Program: Administrative Policies
Table of Contents
Part I: Preamble
Part II: Legislative Authority
Part III: Policies
Appendix A - Duties of the Drainage Superintendent
Part I: Preamble
The Drainage Act provides the legislative vehicle for the construction
and management of many of the communal drainage systems in rural
Ontario. The local municipality is responsible for the management
of the drainage systems located within their municipal boundaries
and the cost of work is assessed to the landowners in the watershed
of the drain.
These drainage systems, often known as "municipal drains," are
vital to the communities, roads and surrounding lands in rural Ontario.
They reduce flooding, improve safety and reduce property damage.
They are as important to rural Ontario as storm sewers are to urban
Municipal drains are fundamental for an effective and competitive
agricultural industry. Private sub-surface agricultural drainage
systems are dependent on municipal drains as an outlet. On agricultural
land, private drainage systems reduce soil erosion, sediment transport
into receiving waterbodies and damage to the soil structure while
improving land trafficability, weed control and increasing crop
To encourage the development of agricultural land in an environmentally
responsible manner, the Province provides grants towards assessments
on agricultural land for cost of municipal drain construction, improvement,
maintenance, repair and operations. The provision of these grants
for activities under the Drainage Act is called the Agricultural
Drainage Infrastructure Program.
Part II: Legislative Authority
Sections 85 to 90 of the Drainage Act allow the Minister of Agriculture,
Food and Rural Affairs to provide grants for various activities
conducted under this act. These sections provide some general direction
on grant eligibility based on type of work, land use and cost components.
It also details the grant rates and provides direction on the collection
and distribution of grants. However, Sections 85 and 87 make it
very clear that the provision of grants is not an obligation, but
are provided at the discretion of the Minister. Under Section 91,
the Minister may appoint a Director for the purposes of the Drainage
Act. Much of the Minister's authority has been delegated to the
Therefore, policies have been developed to supplement the requirements
already specified in the Drainage Act and to ensure that the public
funds are being used effectively.
Part III: Policies
1.0 Basic Eligibility Criteria for all Work Under
the Drainage Act
All municipal drain activities and projects must be completed in
accordance with the procedures of the Drainage Act, and must comply
with applicable law. All necessary permits, approvals and authorizations
under provincial and federal environmental laws must be obtained.
The acquisition of services for municipal drain activities or projects
must comply with the municipal policies for the procurement of goods
and services adopted and maintained by the municipality under subsection
270(1) of the Municipal Act, 2001.
2.0 Drain Construction or Improvement Projects
2.1 Basic Eligibility Criteria
- The cost of construction, allowances, engineering, legal fees,
application fees, postage, photocopying, taxes and interest charges
form part of the cost of the construction or improvement project.
The cost of the members of the Court of Revision, if not members
of council, may also form part of the cost of the project. Project
costs are to be assessed to the landowners in the watershed of
the drain in accordance with the assessment schedule contained
within the engineer's report. In accordance with the Drainage
Act, and subject to Sections 2.1 to 2.5 of this document, the
assessments that are imposed on agricultural land are eligible
for grant at the rate specified in the act.
2.2 Clarification on "Lands Used for Agricultural
- Where any portion of a property is eligible for the Farm Property
Class Tax Rate, the total affected property area will be considered
"lands used for agricultural purposes," eligible for the Drainage
Act grants. (Visit the OMAFRA
website for more information on the Farm Property Class Tax
- Where a property is not currently eligible for the Farm Property
Class Tax Rate, but where the property owner has a written plan
for the development of the property for agricultural purposes
that has been verified by a local OMAFRA representative, the portion
of the property to be developed for agricultural purposes will
be eligible for grant.
- If a drain construction or improvement project is designed
to accommodate non-agricultural use of existing agricultural land,
no grant will be paid towards assessments on the land being developed.
A grant will still be provided to other eligible lands used for
agricultural purposes provided the assessments to be imposed are
approximately the same as those that would result if the drainage
works were designed for agricultural lands only.
2.3 Ineligible Projects or Project Costs
- Ineligible Costs: The following costs may not be claimed as
part of the cost of the drainage project and are not eligible
- Cost of council meetings or special council meetings or
payment to the clerk of the municipality in connection with
the administration of the project [Drainage Act, Subsections
- The fees or other remuneration of the Drainage Superintendent,
who may assist in the supervision of the construction [Drainage
Act, Subsection 93(4)].
- Any appeal costs of another affected municipality against
the report of the initiating municipality, unless the initiating
municipality has been ordered by an appeal body to pay all
or part of the local municipality's appeal costs.
- Although photocopying and mailing costs may be charged to
the drainage project and eligible for grant, other municipal
overhead costs are not eligible.
- The rebate portion of the Harmonized Sales Tax.
- Interest charges on a drainage project accruing after 120
days from the completion of the project [Drainage Act, Subsection
- Engineering costs incurred prior to the municipal appointment
of the engineer cannot be included as part of the project costs
and are not an eligible cost item for grant payment.
- Except in emergency situations as designated by the Minister,
where a municipality performs, consents to or authorizes construction
or improvement work on a drain prior to the passing of a bylaw
adopting an engineer's report, the unauthorized work will not
be eligible for grant. 1
- Grants will not be paid on the construction or improvement of
drainage systems that drain through or from "significant wetlands"
as defined in the Provincial Policy Statement under the Planning
Act, unless the engineer's report demonstrates that there will
be no negative impacts on the wetland's natural features or their
ecological functions. This policy does not apply to:
- Maintenance and repair of existing municipal drains that
drain through or from significant wetlands
- Improvement projects that intend to re-establish or enhance
a wetland area (Wetland Drain Restoration Project)
- Drain improvement projects where the municipal drain channel
through or from the wetland will not be modified from its
- When undertaking a drain improvement project (Drainage Act,
Section 78), the cost to develop a new assessment schedule for
a watershed area beyond that for which the improvement work is
being done is only eligible for grant if the cost to prepare the
additional assessment schedule(s) is less than 25 per cent of
the engineering costs for the total project. The engineer must
ensure that the cost of developing the additional assessment schedule(s)
is separated from the cost of the improvement project.
- The cost of enclosing or replacing an existing open ditch municipal
drain with a buried pipe is not eligible for grant if, using normal
design standards, more pipe flow capacity is required than can
be provided by a single 300 millimetre (mm) diameter corrugated
plastic pipe (or equivalent capacity). An exception may be made
if evidence is provided to the satisfaction of the Director that
a drain enclosure is required to address bank slumping or erosion
problems on the drain, and the Director's written approval is
provided in advance.
- Where an existing open ditch municipal drain can be enclosed
or replaced with a single 300 mm diameter corrugated plastic pipe
(or equivalent capacity), grant will be provided under the following
- The required pipe capacity is calculated using no less
than a 12 mm (0.5 inch) drainage design coefficient.
- On a single property, the total cost to enclose/replace
an open ditch is no more than $15,000 per drain. If the cost
to enclose the drain across a property is greater than $15,000,
grant will be paid on the first $15,000 only. A drain is considered
to be the main channel and any branches that outlet into the
main channel on that property.
- Except for the equivalent cost of an access crossing, the cost
of lawn piping is not eligible for grant.
- Farm and access crossings are eligible for grant, with the following
- For every drain, every agricultural property is entitled
to one drain crossing. Any additional crossing on this property
will not be eligible for grant.
- Notwithstanding (A) above, any new crossing required as
a result of any lot severance that occurred after July 28,
2004, is not eligible for grant.
- Any special feature on a crossing (e.g. decorative headwalls,
surface pavement) is not eligible for grant.
- Any crossing located on a residential property but shared
with an adjoining agricultural property is eligible for grant
only if the agricultural property has an agreement for use
that has been registered on property title. A copy of the
agreement must accompany the grant application. If the agreement
is subsequently nullified and a crossing is required for the
agricultural land, the cost of the crossing is not eligible
- A crossing constructed on agricultural land for the purpose
of utility access (e.g. Hydro One, gas lines) is not eligible
- Where a crossing is proposed on agricultural land that has
received an allowance for loss of access (Drainage Act, Section
33) within the previous 30 years, the original allowance amount
should be assessed to the affected property and is not eligible
- The increased cost to a drainage project for hauling away of
spoil material is not eligible for grant.
- The construction of a farm pond as part of a municipal drain
project is not eligible for grant.
- The construction of new fencing along a drain is not eligible
- The accepted maximum design standard for pipe drainage systems
in agricultural areas is the 38 mm (1.5 inches) coefficient using
the Subsurface Drainage Coefficient Design Method. The increased
cost to design to a higher standard is not eligible for grant
unless the engineer determines that a higher design standard is
required to address physical problems on the drain.1
- Since the Drainage Act requires the engineer to specify the
required work, any optional features provided in an engineer's
report are not eligible for grant.
- The 1998 paper entitled "Allowances And Compensation Under The
Drainage Act" by E.P. Dries, P.Eng., and D.R. McCready, P.Eng.,
presents an equitable method for determining allowance values
and will be used by the ministry as guidance for determining reasonable
- Allowances for Right of Way, etc. (Drainage Act, Section 29)
- Allowances must be based on actual area land values. The
Farm Credit Canada and
Municipal Property Assessment
Corporation websites may provide some guidance in establishing
area farmland values.
- Where a drain previously constructed in an unorganized territory
through a government program is subsequently incorporated
into a municipal drain, no grants will be paid for allowances
for the area of land already being used by the existing drainage
- Where an existing natural watercourse is incorporated into
a municipal drain, grants will not be paid on allowances for
the area of land already taken by the existing natural watercourse.
- Where an existing municipal drain is being relocated, grants
will only be paid for allowances for the increase in loss
of land and added working space.
- Amount for Damages, etc. (Drainage Act, Section 30)
- Allowances provided for damages to crops must be based on
the area to be affected, the type of crops grown and the anticipated
area crop yields or crop input costs.
- Allowance for Existing Drains (Drainage Act, Section 31)
- Where a drain previously constructed in an unorganized territory
through a government program is subsequently incorporated
into a municipal drain, no grants will be paid for allowance
under Section 31.
- If an engineering report incorporates work described in
2.3(b) with an allowance under Section 31 of the Drainage
Act, no grants will be paid on the allowance.
- Allowance for Loss of Access (Drainage Act, Section 33)
- No grant will be paid on an allowance for loss of access
except when the cost of providing a crossing exceeds the value
of the land losing access.1
2.5 Engineering Reports
In addition to the mandatory requirements of an engineer report
as stipulated in the Drainage Act, the following information is
now required in the report to support the grant eligibility.
- The design standard used in designing the drain. If a drain
is designed to a higher than normal standard at the request of
a landowner(s), the report must indicate the increased cost resulting
from the higher standard and this must be assessed as a special
benefit. If a drain is designed to a higher than normal standard
to address physical problems on the drain, the report must state
the reasons why the higher standard was used.
- Area land values on which allowances have been based. If land
values are used that exceed the area norm, the engineer must provide
an explanation in the report.
- If all or a portion of an open ditch municipal drain is to be
enclosed to address bank slumping and erosion problems on an existing
municipal drain, the engineer must provide justification in the
While the engineer must include a schedule in the report showing
the assessments levied against each property or road, the engineer
is not required to include in the report the detailed calculations
used to determine these assessments for each individual property.
However, the engineer must make this information available to any
requesting assessed landowner.
2.6 Preliminary Reports
- The grant for a preliminary report [Drainage Act, Section 85(c)]
will only apply if the project is terminated after the meeting
to consider the preliminary report.
- For a new drain project (Drainage Act, Section 4), the termination
must be put into effect through the withdrawal of names from
- For a drain improvement project (Drainage Act, Section
78), the termination must be put into effect with a resolution
- Any costs incurred after the meeting to consider the preliminary
report are not eligible for grant.
- The application for grant must include a copy of the preliminary
report and proof of the termination of the project.
- The preliminary report must be "preliminary" in nature. A preliminary
report may contain different options for consideration along with
associated costs and preliminary sketches. However, a preliminary
report containing assessment schedules and/or detailed plans,
profiles and/or specifications will not be eligible for the grant.
- The cost of producing any information outside the scope of a
preliminary report is not eligible for grant.
2.7 Construction/Improvement Queue
After the time for appealing has expired and a bylaw adopting an
engineer's report for the construction or improvement of a drain
has been given third reading and is finally passed, the project
is ready for construction. To confirm availability of funding for
the project, a municipal representative must notify the ministry
that the project is ready to proceed to construction, using a form
provided by the Director. The information may be sent by regular
mail, faxed or emailed. Notification provided prior to third reading
of the bylaw will not be accepted.
Upon receipt of the completed notification form and a copy of the
passed bylaw enacted by the municipality, the ministry will enter
the project information into the annual queue of projects. The information
will only be entered on a first-come, first-served basis. The ministry
will respond to each notification form. The response will confirm
whether or not the ministry has sufficient program budget in the
current fiscal year to accommodate a grant application for the project
in question. A positive response will stress that this is not a
confirmation of project grant eligibility. If a municipality is
informed that the ministry budget cannot accommodate a grant application
for the project in the current fiscal year, the municipality may:
- decide to proceed with the construction of the project and apply
for the grants. If grant funding becomes available, the application
will be processed. If grant funding does not become available,
the application will be processed in the following fiscal year.
- postpone the construction of the project until the following
Projects listed on the queue that were not funded in one fiscal
year will be carried to the queue for the following fiscal year.
Some drainage projects, after receiving confirmation of availability
of grant, may be terminated or postponed by the municipality or
may be delayed for any number of reasons (e.g. weather conditions,
legislative delays). In these cases, the ministry must be notified
if the municipality anticipates that the grant will not be applied
for in that year.
Grant applications received for construction or improvement work,
where no notification had been provided previously, will be added
to the bottom of the queue.
2.8 Grant Application
- Grant applications for the construction or improvement of a
municipal drain must be claimed within one year after the work
has been certified complete.
- Grant applications for the drain construction or improvement
projects must be submitted on the form provided by the ministry
by February 15 of each year.
- With rare exception, the engineer who prepared the report must
sign the grant application.
- The following information must be provided with these grant
- A copy of the bylaw authorizing the construction or improvement
project. If this bylaw has been provided as part of the notification
(see section 2.7 above), an additional copy need not be sent.
- A copy of the engineer's report for the project. If, through
the Drainage Act process, a copy of the report had previously
been provided to the ministry, an additional copy need not
- Copies of all decisions affecting the report (Court of Revision,
- Submission of an electronic copy of the drain plan, preferably
in a data format that can be imported into the Land Information
Ontario data warehouse.
- On occasion, after a drain construction or improvement project
has been certified complete and the applicable grant has already
been claimed, repairs are subsequently required to the drain.
A municipality may claim a "grant application adjustment" on the
added cost of this repair work to the project, provided
- the repair work was performed within one year after the
drain construction or improvement work has been certified
- the total adjustment grant does not exceed $1,000 or five
per cent of the total actual initial cost of the work, whichever
- these limits do not apply when complying with Tribunal orders
on "Quality of Construction"
3.0 Drain Maintenance, Repair, Minor Improvements
- No grants will be applied to drain maintenance, repair or minor
improvement projects less than $500 in total cost. For the purpose
of this policy, the removal of several beaver dams on one drain
in one year or the repair of a tile municipal drain in several
locations in one year shall be considered one project.
- Regardless of the designation of the land in the engineer's
report, grants will only be applied to lands currently assessed
at the Farm Property Class Tax Rate.
- Grants for drain maintenance, repair, minor improvements or
operations must be claimed in the provincial fiscal year in which
the work was performed.
- Interest incurred on maintenance, repair, minor improvement
and operational costs are not eligible for grant.
- Administrative costs (e.g. postage, photocopying, advertising)
are not eligible for grant.
3.2 Application Process
- Grant applications for the maintenance, repair, minor improvement
and operational costs incurred must be submitted prior to the
last business day in April of each year.
- The grant applications must be submitted on the forms provided
by the ministry, complete with all required supporting documentation.
- For each grant application form (maximum 10 projects), supporting
documentation must be provided for one project. This supporting
- a copy of the drain plan, with the complete watershed, indicating
where the project work was performed
- a copy of the maintenance and repair instructions and the
assessment schedule from the current engineer's report, as
adopted by the last bylaw. A copy of the schedule that assesses
the costs for the project may also be included. The schedule
must indicate the properties eligible for the Farm Property
Class Tax Rate.
- The municipality must provide a list of all maintenance, repair,
minor improvement and operational projects performed in the previous
calendar year, including projects where a maintenance grant application
is not being submitted. The list must include the drain name,
description of work and total cost of the work performed.
4.0 Cost of Employing a Drainage Superintendent
4.1 Allocation Requests
- Using a form provided by the ministry, each municipality must
annually submit an "allocation request" to the ministry, identifying
their anticipated grant requirements for the cost of employing
a drainage superintendent. This form may be modified, with ministry
approval, for municipalities with multiple drainage superintendents.
- This request must be submitted each year by the last business
day of February.
- Grants will not be paid in excess of the allocation provided
to that municipality.
4.2 Drainage Superintendent Costs
- The primary responsibility of the drainage superintendent is
to maintain, repair and operate the municipality's drainage systems
constructed under the Drainage Act. The superintendent's responsibilities
may also include other duties related to municipal drains. Appendix
A describes the possible duties of the drainage superintendent.
The superintendent's time performing these duties is eligible
for grants under Section 85(b) of the Drainage Act.
- Some superintendents perform work that is not considered the
responsibility of the drainage superintendent. While this does
not preclude them from performing this work, the time spent by
the superintendent performing this work is not eligible for grant.
Examples of work ineligible for the drainage superintendent grant
- Any duties assigned to the clerk by the Drainage Act, including
arranging meetings and sending notices.
- Treasurer functions: while the superintendent should provide
the treasurer with the details and location of the work performed,
it is the responsibility of the treasurer to calculate the
individual assessments and levy and collect the assessments.
- Any time spent by a drainage superintendent arranging or
performing the construction, improvement, maintenance or repair
of any drainage systems other than a municipal drain. These
include, but are not limited to, mutual agreement drains,
roadside ditches, private ditches and award drains.
- Any time spent by a drainage superintendent performing the
role of the contractor by maintaining or repairing a municipal
drain. The superintendent's time and expense incurred in performing
actual physical work on a drain can be charged to the drain
and may be eligible for grant under the "maintenance" program.
(See Drainage Act, Section 81).
- While it is appropriate for the superintendent to review
and comment on the impacts of severances and subdivisions
on municipal drains and assessment schedules, the time spent
reviewing and commenting on subdivision drainage or lot grading
plans is not eligible for the superintendent grant.
- Engineering costs associated with providing assistance to
the drainage superintendent are not eligible for the superintendent
- Any time and expense incurred by a drainage superintendent
in establishing, maintaining and managing irrigation systems.
- Any time and expense incurred by a drainage superintendent
in performing the "Tile Inspector" duties under the Tile Drainage
- Where the engineering firm appointed by a municipality to
perform a drain construction or improvement project also serves
as the drainage superintendent for that municipality, the
cost of the superintendent's involvement in this construction
or improvement project is not eligible for grant.
- Drainage superintendents shall annually submit time sheets or
logs that provide justification for the grant being claimed.
- Grants for the cost of employing a drainage superintendent cannot
be claimed for individuals who have not been approved by the ministry
as drainage superintendent.
- The salary of a drainage superintendent claimed for grant must
only be related to the time spent by the approved superintendent
performing eligible duties of the superintendent. The time spent
by the superintendent performing non-superintendent duties (Section
4.1(b) above) is not eligible for grant. Drainage superintendents
shall submit time sheets or logs on request to support the grant
claim. All time sheets or logs will be audited by the ministry
at least once every five years.
- The drainage superintendent salary claimed by municipal employees
must not include embedded expenses. Consulting firms providing
drainage superintendent services to a municipality must also clearly
separate their hourly billing rates from any expenses.
- For drainage superintendents who are municipal employees, eligible
expenses will be calculated based on 18 per cent of the salary
of the drainage superintendent as indicated in 4.2(b). There are
no stipulations on how this expense funding may be used. Eligible
expenses incurred by consulting firms providing drainage superintendent
services are limited to actual expenses to a maximum of 18 per
cent of the billable time.
- The actual employee benefits cost is eligible for grant, to
a maximum of 35 per cent of the salary cost of the drainage superintendent
claimed by the municipality. Municipalities using consulting drainage
superintendents may not claim a grant on benefit costs.
4.4 Applying for the Grant for the Cost of Employing
a Drainage Superintendent
Grant applications for the cost of employing a drainage superintendent
must be submitted on the form provided by the ministry by January
31 of each year. A copy of the drainage superintendent's records
of the time spent performing the duties of the drainage superintendent
must be provided to the ministry annually to support the grant claim.
The Director or the Director's designate may provide clarification,
interpretation or exception on these policies.
1 The engineer should discuss the
details of the situation with OMAFRA staff and must obtain a grant
eligibility determination prior to proceeding with the project.
Appendix A - Duties of the Drainage
The following is a list of duties that a superintendent may be
requested to perform. Although not all superintendents will be required
to perform all of these duties, most will be required to perform
many of these tasks.
- To initiate and supervise the maintenance and repair of any
drainage works in accordance with the current bylaw.
- To assist in the construction or improvement of any drainage
- To report to council and to keep council informed on drainage
- To inspect and report to council on a regular basis the condition
of all drainage works in the municipality.
- As directed by council, remove any minor obstruction from any
drainage works from time to time in accordance with Section 81
of the Drainage Act. Costs are charged to the drain.
- Advise landowners of approaches that they might take to solve
their drainage problems.
- Aid a person in drawing up a petition but should not circulate
- Advise council on matters dealing with petitions being received.
- Attend on-site meetings held by the engineer to provide assistance
to all parties.
- Review and comment on engineering reports received by council;
attend meeting to consider report to advise council and affected
ratepayers at the time of consideration of the report.
- Provide comment to the Court of Revision, as required.
- Advise the council and landowners of the procedures and appeal
rights under the act.
- Call tenders for work and advise council on tenders.
- Testify before the Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Appeal
Tribunal, as required.
- Act as liaison between council, engineer, contractor and landowner
during drain construction.
- Visit site during drain construction, report progress to council
and check compliance with specifications.
- Attend final inspection of drain construction, as required.
- Inspect new drains for deficiencies and advise landowners of
appeal rights on quality of construction prior to the end of the
one-year period (Section 64), as required.
- Investigate drainage concerns from landowners.
- Investigate and report to council where council is notified
that a drain is out of repair or has been placed on notice under
- Prepare a maintenance budget and drainage superintendent's budget
for submission to the ministry.
- Keep an accurate log of all activities.
- Verify application for maintenance grant and drainage superintendent's
- Familiarize oneself with the drainage works within the municipality.
- Be aware of special assistance programs for landowners and municipalities
relating to soil and water management.
- Be aware of ministry requirements affecting the drainage superintendent
- Be aware of the best methods of repairing and maintaining drainage
works in accordance with the act and good construction practice.
- Be prepared to comment on drainage matters relating to severances
- Actively participate in the Drainage Superintendent's Association
For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300