City Of Surrey Adopts New Ecosystem Protection By-law

September 15, 2016

The City of Surrey has adopted a new By-law changing the way projects are to be developed within 50 metres of a regulated watercourse or ditch. On September 12, 2016 the City of Surrey adopted its new Ecosystem Protection Measures (Sensitive Ecosystem Development Permit Areas and Zoning By-law Streamside Protection Setbacks).

While the Provincial Riparian Areas Regulation (RAR) Assessment that the City has used in the past addresses fish habitat concerns only, the new bylaw considers a variety of other issues along stream corridors and natural feature areas to manage liability and private/public interests.

The new City of Surrey approach is:

  • At minimum meet the requirements of the RAR assessment;
  • To integrate other aspects of stream setback determination (modifiers) into a methodology to provide a “one-stop shopping” approach for environmental determinations. Modifiers may include:
    • slope stability,
    • Bio Conservative Strategy (BCS) Green Infrastructure Area (GIA) Network,
    • floodplain,
    • beavers,
    • tree retention,
    • park trails,
    • drainage access etc.;
  • To seek conveyance of lands to the City in support of the BCS, Park acquisition, drainage maintenance etc.;
  • To create a transparent setback methodology for development to evaluate lands to determine site potential;
  • To offer minor flexibility through a variance process to fit development adjacent to setback areas (not intended to increase yield); and
  • To further streamline the City’s development approval process.

Developing in Surrey

What this means is if you are considering acquiring land or developing on land in the City of Surrey and the property you are interested in is within 50 metres of the City’s defined Green Infrastructure Area (GIA) and/or 50 metres from a regulated watercourse (fish bearing, non fish bearing or a ditch), a Development Permit Application (DPA) will be required.

green_infrastructure1

Left: Green Infrastructure Areas Map; Right: Watercourse Map

A Development Permit Application is required if the proposed activity on the property involves any of the following within 50 metres of a regulated watercourse or a GIA:

  • Subdivision of Land.
  • Construction, addition or alteration of a building (e.g., house extension) or structure.
  • Construction of roads and trails.
  • Disturbance of soils, land alteration or land clearing.
  • Installation of non-structural surfaces with semi-pervious or impervious materials.

While watercourse setbacks used to be from the high water mark, under the new By-law, the DPA will need to consider regulated watercourse setbacks that can extend 7 to 30 metres from a watercourse’s top of bank and incorporate protection measures consistent with the GIA requirements.

If you currently have a project that is classified under the new bylaw as requiring a DPA and Council has not yet approved the watercourse setbacks or incorporation of GIA protection measures associated with your property, you will be required under the new bylaw to apply for a DPA.

If you wish to vary the new bylaw’s recommended setbacks for watercourses and GIA protection required by the new bylaw, a Development Variance Permit (DVP) will be required. The DVP will involve the completion of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report that will require sign-off by a Qualified Environmental Professional (e.g., Registered Professional Biologist). The EIA will need to address project impacts to any regulated watercourse, protection measures for any GIAs associated with the property, and provide options and mitigations to minimize project effects to the satisfaction of City staff before approval for the DVP is provided by Council.

For further clarification of the bylaw or for more information on how Keystone Environmental can guide you through the process, please contact Warren Appleton at wappleton@nullkeystoneenvironmental.ca or call 604-430-0671.