Notice: Please stay on trails and boradwalks around creeks
Port Moody is truly "blessed by nature" with lands extending from the marine environment including salmon-bearing creeks and wetlands, all surrounded by forested slopes. Within this setting, Port Moody residents place a high value on the community's natural environment and the city has a strong traditional of environmental awareness and initiatives.
The protection of riparian areas proactively provides protection for fish habitat - before the loss happens. Protecting riparian fish habitat, while allowing urban development that follows high standards of environmental stewardship, is a priority for the City. In practice, the most success in protecting greenspace has been achieved by the preservation of natural forested areas surrounding ravines, and along watercourses. The widening of riparian setbacks is ecologically desirable but not one without considerable economic impacts.
On January 19, 2001, the Provincial government enacted the Streamside Protection Regulation (SPR) which meets the objectives of the 1997 Fish Protection Act. The purpose of the regulation was to bring clarity, consistency and certainty with a transparent process for the protection of streamside vegetation through the development process. In July 2004, the Riparian Area Regulation (RAR) was passed by the Province which provides an alternate model for determining stream setbacks which relies on a Qualified Environmental Professional assessment which is forwarded to the federal and provincial agencies without provision for local consultation. Under the RAR, local governments are able to either establish setbacks in accordance with the SPR prior to March 31, 2005 or have the RAR come into force in their jurisdiction on that date.
The City has met the objectives of the Fish Protection Act (FPA) through the adoption of a modified SPR that in the opinion of local government "meets or beats" the requirements of the FPA.
What was proposed
In the Port Moody context, and after reviewing our established practices and current bylaws, staff proposeed to amend streamside protection regulations based on a modified SPR approach. In existing, established neighbourhoods and for infill development on sites less than 2 hectares (5 acres) in size, the current setback requirements set out in the Official Community Plan (OCP) are recommended be retained. In areas of new development and for larger redevelopment parcels greater than 2 hectares in size, the Zoning Bylaw will be amended to support the expanded setbacks as outlined in the SPR up to 30 m from top of bank (except for Noons and Mossom which already have 30 m setbacks for structures and buildings). The stream setbacks will be reviewed in coordination with recreational trail and stormwater planning. Consistent with current practices and as outlined in the ESA Management Strategy, creek setbacks already approved for current developments would not be affected by the proposed bylaw amendments.
As provided for in the SPR, the ability to establish reduced setbacks of 5-15 m, particularly on small parcels with site constraints, will also be incorporated, where appropriate. This will streamline the variance process although there may be a requirement for DFO authorization of harmful alteration of fish habitat including habitat compensation. There is a general parallel between existing City policy, SPR and RAR (Simple Assessment) that provides for the rebuilding or repair of existing, legally-constructed buildings and structures on properties that do not conform to present day watercourse setbacks. Staff would endeavor to ensure that the variance process including the ability to rebuild on existing footprints, notwithstanding geotechnical requirements for safety reasons, is clear and streamlined in the Intergovernmental Cooperation Agreement with DFO and MWLAP.
For more information, contact the Manager of Environmental Services, at 604.469.4570.