In the spring of 2004 the provincial government introduced sweeping environmental changes that have greatly affected properties neighbouring creeks, lakes and ravines. This regulation known as the Riparian Areas Regulation, which came under the local enforcement in 2006, provides protection for the features, functions and conditions that are vital in the natural maintenance of stream health and productivity. In short is restricts property owners from building within 30m(100 feet) from the watercourse boundary or ravine without a lengthly and costly environmental review. This also includes landscaping.
While working recently with Jason Schleppe of Ecoscape Environmental Consultants Ltd of Kelowna he indicated that most property owners fail to research if there are any environmental regulations that could significantly reduce the allowable building area of their lot. It is not until they move into the building permit application stage that they become aware of the regulations. Most municipalities and regional districts are obligated to review and enforce the regulation and many have established mapping areas to indicate where environmental assesments are triggered. These maps are broad in nature and in some instances exemptions can be given if it can be determined that there will be no significant impact to the surrounding area.
Jason also indicated that new regulations pertaining to the construction of docks could also have a significant impact on lakeshore development. Maps have been produced to flag Yellow and Red zones as well as safe zones (no colour). Most shoreline properties from Kelowna to Vernon appear to fall within the Red or Yellow zones. These areas have been set up to further protect sensitive wetlands and spawning migration patterns for fish. Persons wishing to repair and construct new waterfront structures within Yellow or Red zones will be required to complete an environmental assessment which will be approved or rejected by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO).
For further information contact:
Jason Schleppe, M.Sc., R.P.Bio.
Natural Resources Biologist
ECOSCAPE Environmental Consultants Ltd.
4824 Parkridge Dr.
Phone: 250.491.7337 ext. 202
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