Letter RE: Riparian area letter in April 8 Sounder

Monday, April 15 2013

In response to the letter last week from John King who has concerns with the Riparian Area Regulations:

The province defines a riparian area as a stream, meaning a watercourse (whether it usually contains water or not), a river, creek, pond, lake or a connected ditch, spring or wetland if it provides a fish habitat or is connected to a fish habitat downstream. I’m assuming that your ditch must be connected to one of these as it was identified by the Ministry of Environment as a riparian area. The Local Trust Committee hopes that a ministry representative will be available to answer any questions at the community information meeting to be held soon. 

The new regulation will not take away the use of your property. What it will do is require a closer look by a qualified environmental professional (QEP) in the area 30 metres from the “stream,” which is the distance required by the legislation. 

The QEP will do an assessment to determine the Streamside Protection and Enhancement Area (SPEA), which becomes the development setback. In many cases the SPEA is significantly smaller than 30 metres. In the rest of the area, development can go ahead but may be subject to measures required by the QEP to prevent harm to the riparian area. 

There are exemptions to the regulations that allow gardening and yard maintenance activities within a pre-existing landscaped area, so fruit trees, berry patches, grape vines and lawns can be maintained. Only alterations or renovations that increase the footprint of buildings or structures require a permit, so your workshop and tractor sheds are safe. Farm operations as defined in the Farm Practices (Right to Farm) Act are also exempt.

There is a restriction on cutting back encroaching brush and bolstering the ditch bed and sides to prevent erosion, but only if a QEP determines that it would negatively affect the function of the riparian area. This is admittedly an added expense, but local governments must include riparian area protection that complies with the provincial regulations, so we are compelled to move forward. 

I hope this addresses some of your concerns and I would urge you to attend the community information meeting if you have any further questions or comments. 

~ Gisele Rudischer, Local Trustee (Islands Trust)