Riparian Area Regulations

All communities are unique, and their policies and regulations contribute to the health and aesthetic of the physical landscape. This is certainly the case in Highlands. 

If you are looking to undertake earthworks and/or construction within 30m (approximately 100 feet) of any water course or water body – no matter how big or small – you will need to investigate the District’s and the Province’s regulations to see how they may affect your development plans.  

There are generally 4 types of applications, all of which require you to hire a Qualified Environmental Professional, such as a Registered Professional Biologist or other appropriately qualified person: 

  1. Perform earthworks and/or tree removal within 30m of water and riparian areas. You will need to follow the Provincial Riparian Areas Protection Regulation process and the District of Highlands’ Development Permit Area process for Area #2 Water and Riparian Areas. If this process includes soil deposit or removal, the application will have to be considered by Council. If it does not, it can be considered by staff. You will also need to fill out the Guideline Check Sheet for Development Permit Area #6 Energy and Water Conservation and Reduction of Greenhouses Gases as part of the application submission. 
  2. Install a structure (without any earthworks or tree removal) within 30m of water and riparian areas. You will need to follow the Provincial Riparian Areas Protection Regulation process and the District of Highlands’ Development Variance Permit process. In this case, you would be requesting to vary section 3.3 of the Zoning Bylaw. The Development Variance Permit process is considered by Council and typically takes 2 Council meetings.  
  3. Install a structure AND perform earthworks and/or tree removal within 30m of water and riparian areas. This is the most common type of application. You will need to follow the Provincial Riparian Areas Protection Regulation process, and the District of Highlands’ Development Permit Area for Area #2 Water and Riparian Areas and Development Variance Permit processes. If appropriate, staff will combine these into one process called a, “Development Permit with Variance.” This process is considered by Council and typically takes 2 Council meetings. You will also need to fill out the Guideline Check Sheet for Development Permit Area #6 Energy and Water Conservation and Reduction of Greenhouses Gases as part of the application submission.
  4. In all these cases, once a Qualified Environmental Professional has initially looked at your site, you may learn that the water area is isolated from fish-bearing waters. If this is the case, you will still need to follow the District’s Development Permit Area and/or Development Variance Permit application processes. Your application may be exempted from the Provincial Riparian Areas Protected Regulation. While you would not be required to conduct an assessment that follows the Province’s regulations, you will still need a riparian areas assessment from the Qualified Environmental Professional that also explains that the water area on your site is isolated from fish-bearing waters. 

For more information, contact the Planning Department at LBeckett@highlands.ca or 250-474-1773. 

LINKS: 
Official Community Plan Map 11.1, which generally shows – but does not capture all – water and riparian areas in the Highlands: https://www.highlands.bc.ca/DocumentCenter/View/4097/OCP-Map-111?bidId;

Section 3.3 of the Zoning Bylaw contains regulations regarding installing structures (including a fence) within 30m (approximately 100 feet) of water and riparian areas. Please see section 3.3 at this link: https://highlands.ca/DocumentCenter/View/8563/100---Zoning-Bylaw-No-100-1998-Consolidated-Version---Dec-4-2023;  

Provincial Riparian Areas Protection Regulation website: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/plants-animals-ecosystems/fish/aquatic-habitat-management/riparian-areas-regulation?bcgovtm=May5

Riparian Areas Protection Regulation Brochure: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/environment/plants-animals-and-ecosystems/fish-fish-habitat/riparian-areas-regulations/rar-brochure-2016_final_web.pdf?bcgovtm=May5;

Development Permit Areas Information: https://highlands.ca/429/Development-Permit-Areas;

Development Permit Area #2 Water and Riparian Areas Guideline Check Sheet: https://highlands.ca/DocumentCenter/View/1652/Checklist-for-DP-Area-2---Water-and-Riparian-Areas?bidId=;

Development Permit Area #6 Energy and Water Conservation and Reduction of Greenhouse Gases Guideline Check Sheet: https://highlands.ca/DocumentCenter/View/4108/Checklist---DP-Area-6---Energy-and-Water-Conservation-?bidId=;

Development Variance Permit Application: https://highlands.bc.ca/DocumentCenter/View/4110/Development-Variance--Permit?bidId=;

Living by Water: https://www.livingbywater.ca/;

Stewardship Centre for British Columbia: https://stewardshipcentrebc.ca/;