One of the attractions of the Comox Valley is its variety of scenic waterfront homes and waterways. The Comox Valley is bordered on the East by the Pacific Ocean fed Strait of Georgia. Throughout the valley there are a number of scenic Comox Valley lakes, wetlands, rivers, streams and other watercourses that contribute to its overall natural scenic beauty. While each of these natural wonders may be aesthetically please to property owners, having such a watercourse on or near one’s property can limit the use or development of a property.
The Riparian Areas Regulation came into effect in British Columbia on the 31st of March 2005. It replaced the Streamside Protection Regulation. This regulation aims to protect Riparian Areas such as those in the Comox Valley during residential, commercial and industrial development. This regulation applies to the “Riparian Assessment Area (RAR)” adjacent to streams. the definition of a stream in the regulation is very broad. Streams includes a watercourse (whether it usually contains water or not), a pond, lake, river, creek or brook and a ditch or wetland that is connected by surface flow to a watercourse, pond, lake, river, creek or brook that provides fish habitat. Qualified Environmental Professionals can be hired in order to assess the impact to habitat, determine setbacks, and to identify measures that need to be employed to maintain the integrity of the setbacks.
So what does this regulation mean to the Comox Valley real estate market? If you are a Comox Valley real estate owner and if you have a watercourse on or near your property, your land may be impacted by this regulation. Some of the impacts may include, but are not limited to, the removal, alteration, disruption of vegetation, the disturbance of soils and the construction or erection of buildings and structures.
The RAR for a stream is 30 meters on both sides of the stream from the high water mark. For a ravine less than 60 meters wide, the RAR is 30 meters beyond the top of the ravine bank measured from the high water mark. For a ravine more than 60 meters wide, the RAR is 10 meters beyond the top of the ravine bank measured from the high water mark.
So if you have a stream, lake, wetland or ditch on or beside your Comox Valley property, this regulation may apply to your land. If you plan any Comox Valley residential, commercial or industrial development within 30 meters of a watercourse and you plan any of the following:
- removing or altering plants
- disturbing soils
- constructing buildings and structures
- constructing roads, trails, docks, wharves, and bridges
- creating hard surfaces such as decks and pavement
- installing works for flood protection
- developing drainage systems and utility corridors
- servicing sewage and water systems
- servicing subdivisions
You will have to get your Comox Valley property assessed to determine the Streamside Protection Area on your property as well as the measures to maintain riparian fish habitat within the RAR.
Enjoy your Comox Valley watercourse but make sure that you are aware of the Riparian Area Regulation and whether or not it applies to your watercourse.