The purpose of these watercourse setback map layers is to provide potential development applicants with a Streamside Protection and Enhancement Area (SPEA) setback option to consider without having to retain (and pay for) a qualified environmental professional.
As noted in Section 523 (5) of the Zoning Bylaw, the City may allow development to proceed if the proposed development remains outside of the SPEA setbacks shown on these watercourse setback map layers. Alternatively, under Section 523(6) of the City’s Zoning Bylaw, development applicants may wish to consider applying the Riparian Areas Regulation (RAR) Detailed Assessment methodology to define SPEA setbacks.
Watercourses coded as Non Fish Habitat (green coding) may also be subject to SPEA setbacks under the Riparian Areas Regulation Detailed Assessment methodology.
This generalized SPEA mapping was not completed for areas where the RAR does not apply, i.e., regional lands (parks and watersheds), provincial lands, and federal lands and First Nations lands.
The SPEA setbacks shown on these watercourse setback map layers extend from the top-of-bank or top-of-ravine bank. Due to the limited accuracy of the topographic data sets used in the preparation of these layers, accurate and precise delineation of the top-of-bank or top-of-ravine bank at the site level was not possible. A development applicant will therefore need to have a registered BC Land Surveyor (BCLS) provide a survey plan showing the top-of-bank/top-of-ravine bank location to confirm on site the SPEA identified on these watercourse setback map layers.
Under the RAR Simple Assessment methodology, ravines exceeding 60 metres in width between top-of-ravine banks, excluding the bankfull channel width (i.e., between high water marks), would normally receive a 10 metre Riparian Assessment Area and a 10 metre SPEA setback from top-of-ravine bank. However, due to the limited accuracy of available topographic data sets, accurate delineation of large ravines (exceeding 60 metres in width) was not possible, and all ravines therefore received SPEA widths appropriate for ravines less than 60 metres wide (i.e., 15 metres or 30 metres). Site-specific mapping by a BCLS will define the most accurate top-of-ravine bank and bankfull channel width location (high water marks) and allow for the determination of where a ravine exceeds 60m in width.
The SPEA setback map layer represents an idealized riparian buffer zone and does not consider site-specific constraints or future development plans. Where SPEA setbacks overlap with existing structures or infrastructure as illustrated herein, this does not necessarily imply that existing structures must be removed as part of a proposed development. However, structures located within the SPEA that are not considered permanent or intended to remain in a proposed development scenario should be removed, or at least not expanded, and the SPEA protected and re-vegetated to enhance the integrity of the riparian areas. However, permanent structures may remain in-place provided the original foundations are retained.
SPEA setbacks may be established on the far side of an existing road where such a road is located between a subject property and a stream to provide shade, litter fall and insect drop to the stream.
For the purposes of these watercourse setback map layers, maximum setback values (i.e., 15 metres or 30 metres) were used to define SPEA widths from the GIS-based analysis. Minimum SPEA widths are options available on a site-specific basis in situations where a SPEA is defined but an existing structure will not be modified. Such situations cannot be addressed at the watershed level assessment.