How the Proposed Riparian Area Mapping will Affect Your Property

In my opinion, the impacts (via information being supplied by the Islands Trust to the public on Salt Spring), as to how the proposed RAR changes to the OCP will affect property owners are being downplayed in a significant way.

The following information should help you determine whether, if the proposed changes are put into law, you will need a Qualified Environmental Professional report, and a Development Permit before you “develop” any of your property.

Here is the process of discovery:

1. Identify whether your property is shown as included on the proposed Map 21a:

Map 21a April 7 2011

2. Walk around your property and see if you can find any nearby ditches, springs, wetlands, ponds, lakes, creeks or brooks. (Ditches include highways ditches.) Remember: (a) they don’t have to necessarily be on your property, (b) they don’t have to contain water, they just have to have water in them at sometime during the year, and (c) it doesn’t matter if they are manmade or not.

3. If you have found any of the items in (2), get a 100 foot measuring tape, and, from the edge of any ditches, springs, creeks or brooks, measure 100 feet (30 metres.)

This is the approximate Riparian Assessment Area on your property. (However, please note – If your property slopes more than 1:3 (1 foot rise in 3 feet horizontal) coming up from one of the above items, you must not start measuring the 100 feet until you reach a point where the slope is less than 1:3 for at least 50 feet – then measure your 100 feet.)

4. Now that you have approximately identified the Riparian Assessment Area on your property, if you want to:

(a) remove, alter, disrupt or destroy vegetation (e.g. dig a garden or cut down a tree), or

(b) disturb soil (e.g. dig a fence post hole), or

(c) construct or erect any building or structure, or

(d) create a ‘nonstructural impervious or semi-impervious surface (e.g. – a patio, deck, paved driveway), or

(e) create a flood protection works (e.g. – a dyke to protect your property from flooding), or

(f) construct a road, trail, dock, wharf or bridge.

(g) install a septic field or water line.

(h) dig a ditch

(i) run a Hydro line to your house

(j) subdivide your property

you must hire a Qualified Environmental Professional (QEP) to conduct a Riparian Area Assessment and apply for a Development Permit. (Est. cost – $1500 – 2000+.  Est time for approval – 3 – 6 months)

5. The QEP will establish a ‘Streamside Protection and Enhancement Area’ (SPEA), which will likely be a minimum of 33 feet (10 metres) for a stream, and 2 – 5 metres for a ditch, but, could be considerably more depending upon what the QEP finds. Once the SPEA has been identified, you will not be allowed to do anything in that SPEA, and, you may as a result even be asked to covenant the area (a potential additional cost to you of $1500+).

The graphic below shows what the Trust is using to inform the public:

Notice the graphic only concentrates on a major stream, and not any drainage ditches, or wetlands, and does not show any ‘ravines.’

Now, compare that with the graphic I have prepared above, showing just typical drainage ditches being added, and the increase in the Riparian Assessment Area (shown in red cross hatching).

As you can see, a great deal more property is included in the Riparian Assessment Area if there are drainage ditches nearby.

Look out your front yard towards the street and imagine not being able to dig a garden, cut down a tree, disturb natural vegetation, without paying $1,000 minimum for a QEP report, and another $500-1,000 to have a Development Permit processed. And, don’t forget, it may take you three to six months to get a Permit.

I urge you to carefully consider the ramifications to your property, and what the proposed changes to the OCP will mean to you.

If, as I have submitted to the Trust, you believe the existing 10 metre setbacks from major streams, wetlands and lakes sufficiently protect fish habitat on Salt Spring, I urge you to voice your opinion via a letter or email to the Local Trust Committee. Show up at the next RAR meeting, and, at the Public Hearing (likely sometime in May) stand up and express your opposition to this unnecessary over-regulation of property rights.

Click on this link, fill in your thoughts on the RAR and let the Trustees know what you think. Be civil, but be clear.

Eric Booth  – Copyright 2011


3 Responses to How the Proposed Riparian Area Mapping will Affect Your Property

  1. Mark F says:

    The serious and ongoing issue is one of retroactive imposition of the “non-conforming” status upon properties having “features” which would not be allowed under proposed RAR and the Green Shores stuff in the wings.

    The term “grandfathering” is often used to appease those whose property is reclassified in the above way, but this is meaningless in practice, as court precedents seem to show that the act does not allow “in perpetuity” con-conformance is neither intended nor permitted.

    This means that eventually, an owner may be required to either bring the property into conformance, or perhaps abandon same, although I am not familiar with the latter process details.

    One consequence of this is that each affected property may not qualify as equity for mortgage or other loans, ma not qualify for fire or other insurance, and will, because of disclosure rules, suffer potential devaluation for resale or other purposes.

    Having built a retirement plan upon the reasonably presumed value of our property, subject to “normal” market forces, I’m disturbed that with the stroke of a pen, the Trust can NOW create a frivolous and scientifically unjustified restriction upon our property, and in future COULD similarly call for immediate compliance, perhaps reducing our equity to a small fraction of its present value, or even to zero.

    This is a serious transgression and worth a more thorough analysis. All RAR and other environment-based retroactive regulations must be put on hold until a) all property owners are made aware of the facts, and b) have an opportunity to reject them.

  2. Mark F says:

    The second sentence should read “….court precedents seem to show that ‘in perpetuity’ non-conformance is neither intended nor permitted.”

  3. Pingback: RAR – Trustees Close Debate « islandstrust

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