Adequate Environmental Regulation

Municipalities and Regional Districts in BC use Development Permit Area bylaws (DPAs) to protect environmental values and limit environmental impact from development. As well, development in or near fish bearing waterways are subject to the Riparian Area Regulations (RAR) of the Fish Protection Act.

Do you believe that the system of DPAs and riparian regulation, as currently used by municipalities and regional districts, is sufficient to protect our environment? If not, what would you change?


Steve Baker
Candidate for SCRD Area D

The regulations allow the opportunity for difference of opinion between professionals that do not maintain adequate protection of waterways. Developments can still negatively affect waterways without due consideration of the negative future impact on waterways. The complaint based system may still allow a detrimental development to go forward even when there is potential from harm.
Ensuring the District has the authority to cease and desist would be an improvement to allow protection from potential harm.
The additional challenge is where there may be a federal jurisdiction having the authority over an inland development. Control of local environments is essential as well as Provincial regulation to ensure that safe standards are being met.


Bill Beamish
Candidate for Gibsons Mayor

The Town of Gibsons OCP incudes reference to and protections for Development Permit Areas, Geotechnical Hazard Development Permit Areas, Environmentally Sensitive Areas and other areas that require special consideration when development is proposed or undertaken.

I feel that these requirements along with the Zoning Bylaw and the Town’s current focus on identifying and protecting our Natural Assets are sufficient to protect our environment.

I support the adoption and implementation of the Provinces Environmental Site Survey process for development related actions on properties within the community.

I am interested in investigating the development of a Tree Protection Bylaw and, if elected, would discuss that with Council.


Verna Chan
Candidate for Gibsons Councillor

Again, this is an area of study that I would need to research further but part of our job is to ensure that these protections are adhered to and that the RARs are monitored for change.


David Croal
Candidate for Gibsons Councillor

Personally, I feel we need to review the tools we have at hand to protect our environment to ensure that there is sufficient protection safeguards for our environment and work with surrounding communities and governing bodies to ensure we have consistent policies in place. It is pointless to have protection in place in one area that only results in a project or development moving outside a boundary and having carte blanche


Annemarie De Andrade
Candidate for Gibsons Councillor

As Councillor, I will support immediate review of Gibsons technical DPAs (1, 2 and 9) to ensure they reflect our protection needs and result in desired outcomes.

The issue of Professional Reliance is huge and hopefully will be addressed by our government’s commitment to revitalize the current environmental assessment regime. Hopefully, this will result in effective measures to protect the environment.

In the meantime, I suggest that the Town request proponents of projects which scale pose a risk to our aquifer or environment, that they pay a fee to cover for assessments cost conducted by professionals hired by the town. In case of projects with the magnitude of The George development, peer reviews (minimum 2) of the consultant’s report should be required in the approval process.

A subsequent effort should entail a review of all DPAs to ensure they reflect climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies implemented by the Town.


Carol Doyle
Candidate for Gibsons Councillor

I have reviewed all the questions and given great thought into each of one of them. Climate Change, Sustainable Water, Adequate Environmental Regulations and the Forests are all of great interest and concern to everyone on the Coast and indeed in the province and across Canada.

However these areas fall under the jurisdiction of the Regional Districts, and or the Province and, in some cases the Federal Government. As a Municipal Government we can lobby for causes, for and against for each and every one of these as issues pertaining to them may arise in our immediate area but decisions cannot be made at the Municipal level rather they will be made at the higher levels of government.

I thank your organization for being the watchdog on these very important environmental issues.


Cathrine Fuller
Candidate for SCRD Area D

The current Roberts Creek OCP provides excellent policies for DPAs and development permits that are consistent with the requirements of the provincial government’s Riparian Areas Regulations. I do have some concern about the issuing of Variance Permits and exceptions. I think we need to be very cautious in approval process.
I am also not a fan of the Professional Reliance model leaving the regulatory oversight to people hired by proponents of a project. I am waiting to see the results of changes made subsequent to the release to the Provincial Government of The Final Report of the Review of Professional Reliance in Natural Resource Decision-Making.


Jacqueline Gillis
Candidate for Sechelt Councillor

I don’t know enough about legislation and regulation regarding development on riparian areas or the fish protection act. I certainly can’t speak to it with any authority or knowledge. I’m sorry. I know that isn’t a great answer. But I have only had so much time to learn, and the scope of municipal politics is so huge. If I get elected, I am happy to learn more about development in these areas, and will be happy to meet with anyone who can educate me about these areas.


Mark Hiltz
Candidate for SCRD Area F

No. The Ombudsman’s 2014 report states RAR (Riparian Area Regulation) has failed to achieve expected results.

People need to know the why’s of regulations and DPA (development permit areas) before adjusting behaviours. The DPAs are identified in the SCRD GIS mapping system, though using the GIS system can be a steep learning curve. Residents and developers need assistance understanding the environmental significance of these regulations. The complaint driven bylaw enforcement policy needs to be more proactive in educating residents. The annual utility bill mail-out is one tool to let people know which DPAs apply to their properties and the associated responsibilities. Water must flow into the ground for aquifers, streams and lakes to recharge and complete the hydrologic cycle. There is a direct connection between the results from DPAs and RAR and the survival of humans and non-humans.


Darren Inkster
Candidate for Sechelt Councillor

I have always wondered if the rules for riparian areas are stringent enough to deal with land run off, slippage, and erosion. Consequently, we need to develop policy that takes into account slopes, soil type and vegetation. A revision of existing rules is acceptable and warranted at the municipal level.


Janice Kuester
Candidate for Sechelt Councillor

I believe that our OCP is outdated and therefore The question becomes are we following the DPA’s and RAR’s effectively? I like to think that we are at this time. Moving forward, as part of new council , I will ensure use the Integrated Community Sustainability plan draft and the Water sustainability act are prepared to ensure we adequately meet the requirements of our Community today. As we move into an update of OCP, it is important that these plans reflect priorities of our community, so as to protect our environment through new development.


Aleria Ladwig
Candidate for Gibsons Councillor

I’m okay with the Riparian Area Regulations themselves if they are properly implemented and enforced. Where I believe our regulatory system falls short, however, is in the area of cumulative impacts and watershed-based management. I have participated in multiple watershed-based planning processes where the hydrology of the watershed was taken into account for the benefit of fish and the riparian zone itself. Protecting the riparian zone is only effective if the hydrology of the river is stable enough not to wash out the riparian zone that is protected – which will become a greater risk over time as rain fall levels increase with climate change.

As a starting point on this issue, I’d like our new Council to commission a review on the implementation of our Integrated Stormwater Management Plan as part of its Natural Assets Management Strategy to ensure our riparian areas (and other natural assets) are being protected and restored where necessary. The Town of Gibsons has been progressive in this regard, but good governance of any public policy always requires periodic performance reviews.

I also struggle with municipalities accepting developers’ environmental assessment reports without a peer review process. I think municipalities should examine ways of ensuring confidence in the science advice received, either by developing a list of certified service providers for developers to choose from, or requiring payment as part of the approval process for municipalities to hire their own consultants to conduct the environmental assessments.


Lorne Lewis
Candidate for SCRD Area E

These are tools to draw attention to areas where environmental care is needed. Local governments can “beef up” their own bylaws to better protect these designated areas. It is important that bylaws are both enforceable and that there is the will to enforce them.


Stafford Lumley
Candidate for Gibsons Councillor

The provincial government regulates this authority and is in the midst of changing it at least in the very controversial realm of professional reliance. In Gibsons we’ve had challenges with professional reliance in the seemingly continuous reconciliation of peer reviews and developer-hired professionals on the George, and multiple disagreements between our staff and a qualified environmental professional regarding the Goosebird waterway. So I look forward to these provincial changes.

I supported the increased environmental protection through DPAs that came about from the last OCP review. Members of council typically do not have the technical training and expertise to professionally assess environmental and habitat impacts through DPAs or RAR, and would instead usually assess staff or consultant recommendations, but as a policy decision-maker I definitely want to hear any proposals from professionals, other experts and advocacy groups
like the SCCA about how we can improve this system, or how we should lobby other levels of government to improve it.


Alice Lutes
Candidate for Sechelt Councillor

I spoke a bit about ocean setbacks in question number 1, but for stream/river setbacks this also needs to be increased, with the changes currently happening and future changes this becomes even more important. There is no need to infringe on the water systems buildings can be modified much easier than the outcomes of modifying the ecosystems.


Matt McLean
Candidate for Sechelt Councillor

I would like to learn more about this area as we revisit our Official Community Plan within the next council term. I believe in evidence-based decision making, so when it comes time to make a decision, I will use the best available scientific studies on riparian protection to inform my decision. I also hope to engage local citizens who have experience in this area to inform a new policy.

I look forward to using riparian protection as a learning experience for all in the District of Sechelt including myself.


Donna McMahon
Candidate for SCRD Area E

This is a very complex question. I would have to go back through the records and review the use of DPAs in Elphinstone over the last decade to determine whether policies that exist on paper in our Official Community Plan are being followed in practice, and whether riparian regulations are actually being enforced on the ground. The Area E OCP has a lot of aspirational language about protecting the natural environment, but it is up to Planning staff and the Advisory Planning Commission to interpret the OCP when it comes to individual development applications.


Bruce Milne
Candidate for Sechelt Mayor

The key phrase in this question is “as currently used”. I think the current Development Permit Areas and Guidelines in place in the District of Sechelt are reasonably well structured and were well intended. They have latitude for sensitive application and use. Too often the interpretation and application of Development Permit Guidelines and the Council approval of Development Permits have not supported best practices for building a sustainable community or for protecting the environment. We have a few iconic examples of ‘failure’ in our community; however, I now better understand that those are examples of staff and elected Council decisions and applications rather than of the identification of Development Permit Areas or of the Guidelines. Development Permit requirements are of no value if variances are supported as a matter of course. Our community needs to instruct Council and Council needs to instruct staff that Development Permit requirements and Guidelines for development in Development Permit Areas are serious and must be adhered to.

Riparian regulations may need to be strengthened, in particular with regards to ‘ephemeral’ water ways and wetlands. I have seen too many examples of disregard for riparian values to think it is simply a matter of ‘practice and use’.

The most important change we can make is in our collective understanding of the ecology of our community. The demonstrated lack of awareness (or perhaps lack of care) that emerges in our built environment – development after development; construction site after construction site – is unacceptable.


Hans Penner
Candidate for SCRD Area D

I think the DPAs and riparian regulations currently in place are generally thorough. The problem is in what I would call the soft application of these regulations. Often it appears that, especially for larger developments, were proposals include consultants’ reports, these applications are generally approved without rigorous, critical review. What needs to change is that we must ensure that the intent of the regulations is complied with. Blind reliance on professional reports by consultants working for the developers must stop.


Lennea Perpet
Candidate for Sechelt Councillor

I feel the current DPAs are as sufficient as the enforcement that accompanies it. The biggest change I would make is to ensure the partnership of all parties to be diligent in the implementation and be ready to lobby for stricter policy as the needs may change.


Mike Price
Candidate for SCRD Area A

I can answer simply that no I don’t believe the environment is adequately protected by DPA’s and RAR’s.
What can I change? Absolutely nothing as a small local municipality like the SCRD, can only use the tools the province supplies and has no staff, money or authority to change those tools.

What you should have asked is whether Watershed Planning needs to be undertaken in the key or developing areas within the Regional District, then I would have supported it. Watershed Plans have to address sub surface water flows not just surface flows plus address the water balance taking into account water extraction and aquifer recharge.


Brenda Rowe
Candidate for Sechelt Councillor

From my limited knowledge of the topic I would have to say that No, I don’t believe riparian regulations provide sufficient protection. There are many layers involved and it can be very hard to navigate through the various jurisdictions needed.


Suzanne Senger
Candidate for Gibsons Councillor

In my opinion, the system of DPAs and riparian regulation currently used by municipalities and regional districts, could be sufficient to protect our environment, though currently it is not. There are a few reasons why but the main one is that that the “professional reliance” regime in BC has left the foxes to guard the henhouse.

Local governments have the authority to designate development permit areas over locations that require special treatment for things like environmental protection, protection from hazardous conditions, form and character objectives, promotion of conservation and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Local governments may designate a development permit area (DPA) in an official community plan (OCP). The OCP must describe the conditions/objectives that justify the DPA designation and specify guidelines for how proposed development in the DPA will address these conditions or objectives.

Development Permit Area (DPA) requirements must be met before a developer can achieve a permit. If the DPA requirements are met, the council or it's delegated decision maker must approve the application. Consequently, whether or not a DPA is effective depends heavily on the quality of the wording of the guidelines. In the case of technical DPA, it is a municipal staff person that has the approval authority. If the DPA guidelines are met, the staff person must approve the permit. In the case of a more subjective DP, such as a “form and character'’ DP,  council is the decision maker. Consequently, if the council feels that the DPA requirements have been met, it must approve the DPA  application. This leaves local governments completely reliant on the professional opinion of consultants paid for by development proponents.

In Gibsons we have three key technical DPAs. DPA 1 is the Geotechnical Hazards Area. DPA 2 is the Environmental Hazards Area. DPA 9 is the Aquifer Protection Area. All of these DPAs are well intentioned, yet they are basically useless when not properly interpreted or applied. The classic example of this is the approval of development permits (DPA 1, 2 and 9) by Gibsons council for the George project – in 2017. Excavations and dredging for the proposed project pose the real risk of perforating and blowing out Gibsons Aquifer, and spreading a contaminant 14x more toxic than mercury into the environment. The project poses significant risks to human health and the environment and violates the contaminated sites regulation. Yet, the town approved development permits for the project it seems the council did not understand the risks, or the violations of the CSR. The town trusted the developer’s consultants’ claims (Professional Reliance) that the  proposed activities on site were safe and that the provincial legislation and DPA guidelines had been satisfied. In fact, this was not the case. So, citizens were forced to take the developer and the town to court and engage in a complaint and pending hearings with the Environmental Appeal Board of BC in order to address these serious problems.

In Gibsons, the DPA1, 2 and 9 guidelines should be amended to include stronger and more specific wording so as to ensure the intent of the guidelines (to protect from hazards) is met and that the DPs are legally enforceable. DPAs guidelines should specify the timing of permit applications as they relate to re-zoning applications. I.e. Development permits should be considered and achieved prior to zoning approvals. Lastly, technical DPA guidelines should include the requirement for peer reviews of technical reports.

Regarding Riparian Areas Regulation and the issue of 'professional reliance', the provincial government committed to compliance auditing of  Qualified Professionals (QP) when they brought out the RAR. They also committed to increasing the number of audits if there was evidence of non-compliance. Government did a few audits which showed substantial non-compliance, yet it did not increase the number of audits. The College of Applied Biology, basically, didn't do anything either. Multiple complaints went to the BC Ombudsperson's office, which considers issues of fairness. The Ombudsperson investigated and found, among various things, that government failed to audit as it had committed to do. This is, she said, a fundamental unfairness because government made a commitment and then discarded it. The Ombudspersons report had 21 findings and 25 recommendations to improve the ministry’s administration of the RAR. The ministry has accepted and committed to implementing 24 of the 25 recommendations. The town of Gibsons does not have a Riparian Areas Byalw. RAs are dealt with under DPA 2. Again, the DP is an appropriate tool to ensure protection of values, only if the wording is strong enough, and the wording and the intent of the DPA guidelines is adhered to by local government. If elected I am committed to strengthening and adhering to the wording in the our DPA guidelines.


Darnelda Siegers
Candidate for Sechelt Mayor

In the District of Sechelt, we do use DPAs inside our Official Community Plan (OCP) along with our Zoning Bylaw as vehicles to protect the environment. However, these documents are outdated and don’t reflect best practises in managing development for climate change impacts or retention of tree coverage, etc. The Green Bylaws Tool Kit, published by the University of Victoria, has some great suggestions that could be reviewed and incorporated into the District’s guidelines. We recently completed an Integrated Community Sustainability Plan. This plan lays out the framework that can be used by municipal staff when revising our current Subdivision and Development Control Bylaw, our new Zoning Bylaw and the anticipated update to the OCP.


Andreas Tize
Candidate for SCRD Area D

From my limited knowledge at this point, I believe these bylaws would be more effective if they were adequately supported by especially the federal species at risk act, but also a competent environmental review process on the provincial level. As that is not the case, I believe we have to continue to put faith into the competency of planners and those issuing permits in our municipality. If you have a proposed amendment to the bylaws I would certainly be happy to look at them.


Alton Toth
Candidate for Sechelt Councillor

While I cannot speak to the regulations for the SCRD areas, I do believe that the current DPAs and regulations for the District of Sechelt are sufficient for environmental protections. The only changes I might want to see are relating to drainage, run-off, and porous surfaces. The Integrated Community Sustainability Plan promises to go a bit further in regards to ensuring that developments are sustainable, and suitably protect the environment around them.


Doug Wright
Candidate for Sechelt Councillor

Riparian Areas - at this time I believe the setbacks are reasonable but need to be monitored carefully. However we need to make sure that we do not allow the setbacks to be compromised through the variance process. My secondary concern is the setback from the ocean as we are experiencing rising ocean levels and severe storms, both of which could affect our community. However I remain open to any reasonable suggestions regarding the alterations of setbacks or protection of sensitive areas.