Stream and Riparian Areas Regulation (RAR) Assessments
Keystone Environmental biologists conduct stream assessments to determine the appropriate development setbacks regulated by local municipal Streamside Protection Enhancement Areas (SPEA), or to identify potential riparian or in-stream restoration opportunities. The Provincial RAR is managed at the local level by municipalities and is intended to protect harmful alteration of riparian fish habitat. The RAR provides a standard approach for a Qualified Environmental Professional (QEP) to assess and report the appropriate riparian setback that new development can encroach from the high water mark of a watercourse. Keystone Environmental’s experienced QEP biologists have assisted clients in securing the necessary municipal RAR approvals since the regulation was passed over a decade ago. We are familiar with the specific requirements that vary among the local governments who have adopted the RAR and those that follow their own specific SPEA bylaw to determine appropriate riparian setbacks. Keystone Environmental has a practical approach to determining appropriate riparian setbacks to achieve local development approvals, while protecting the environment.
Electrofishing is a practice of safely salvaging and relocating fish in areas where in-water works are required. Keystone Environmental has experienced biologists and technicians that are certified under the provincial WorkSafeBC requirements to perform electrofishing. Our staff have acquired the necessary regulatory permits to undertake electrofishing and allow projects to proceed without impacts to fish.
Keystone Environmental biologists have completed terrestrial and freshwater/marine habitat restoration and enhancement plans. These plans have been completed to enhance an environmental setback or protection area and to reduce the impact of development, or as habitat compensation to offset environmental impacts of a project.
Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA/EA)
The primary purpose of an Environmental Impact Assessment is to identify and describe the potential environmental impacts associated with a proposed development, and applicable environmental protection and/or mitigation measures to be implemented to avoid these impacts during project preparation, construction and operation. Keystone Environmental has completed environmental impact assessment that have supported Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) and local regulatory permitting requirements.
Terrestrial Biophysical/Bio-inventory Assessments/Marine biophysical assessment
For proposed developments that are in the planning stages Keystone Environmental has completed strategic-level Biophysical Environmental Assessments, which are intended to assess areas for suitability of potential future development opportunities, and to aid in decision making toward more detailed design options. Keystone Environmental biologists take a practical and innovative approach, and have completed several terrestrial and aquatic strategic environmental assessments, which have achieved suitable developable areas for clients.
The BC Wildlife Act and the federal Migratory Birds Convention Act provide protection for native bird species, their nests and young from disturbance or harm during the breeding season. The purpose of a bird nest survey is to confirm active nests or protected raptor nests are not present in areas where vegetation clearing is proposed. Keystone Environmental notifies clients of potential nest constraints to clearing at the project planning stages, so clearing activities can occur outside the regional nesting window. If clearing is required to occur within the nesting window, Keystone Environmental professional biologists will conduct a nest survey and if active nests are present, our biologists identify the appropriate exclusion buffer, so clearing on surrounding areas can proceed without disturbing nests. Keystone Environmental professional biologists have acquired regulatory approvals and worked with First Nations groups to undertake relocation of protected raptor nests, which have enabled projects to proceed while protecting valued habitats.
Environmental Management Mitigation Planning
An Environmental Management Plan or EMP is a guidance document for the proponent to measure and achieve compliance with the environmental protection and mitigation requirements of a project, which are typically requirements of project permits/approvals. EMP guidance documents can be presented at the project planning and approval application stage to inform regulatory agencies that the proponent has agreed to follow management strategies to avoid and mitigate environmental impacts during project works. A construction EMP or CEMP is typically an amendment to the initial EMP that provides more specific mitigation measures for contractors to follow during construction phases of a project. Depending on the scope of a project, an individual Environmental Protection Plan (EPP) may be prepared for separate construction activities under one CEMP, or may be sufficient for smaller projects. Keystone Environmental has completed several of these management plans that have taken into consideration specific municipal, provincial and federal construction requirements and environmental best management practices (BMPs) for a diverse range of projects, such as marine base infrastructure projects, linear utility and rail projects, and urban residential/commercial building developments.
Invasive Species Management
Invasive plant species are typically fast growing and tenaciously colonize disturbed sites. Proper management or removal and disposal of these plants is required by the provincial Weed Control Act and/or municipal requirements. Keystone Environmental has completed management plans for projects requiring invasive species removal, treatment or a combination of these methods. Keystone Environmental works closely with different levels of government where invasive plant removal or herbicide applications are planned in proximity to watercourses.
Keystone Environmental provides environmental monitoring services for projects requiring a third-party QEP and for projects to maintain compliance with environmental requirements and management measures. We have provided monitoring services for a diverse range of projects, such as in-water hydrophone monitoring to avoid impacts to fish during construction of port and bridge infrastructure projects, and erosion and sediment control monitoring for residential/commercial building developments.
Permits and Approvals
Keystone Environmental project managers work closely with clients at the planning stages to identify applicable permits and approvals, as well as timing of project works, that may be required prior to project approvals and for specific project activities. To maintain compliance with these regulatory requirements, Keystone Environmental has consulted directly with regulators on behalf of clients to acquire necessary permits within project timelines. The following is a list of environmental permits and approvals that Keystone Environmental has acquired to achieve various project approvals:
- Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Fisheries Act, Request for Review and Authorization to carry on a proposed work, undertaking or activity causing serious harm to fish
- Transportation Canada, Navigation Protection Act Approval for works and obstructions that risk interfering with navigation in the navigable waters
- Environment Canada, Disposal at Sea permit for disposal of upland soils or dredgate sediments
- Federal Migratory Birds Convention Act and Provincial Wildlife Act criteria for determining appropriate setbacks to active nests and permits for relocation of raptor nest, while ensuring the conservation of migratory bird populations by regulating all activities that are harmful to migratory birds, their eggs or their nests
- Port of Vancouver, Environmental Review Process approval permits for proposed development and construction in the Port of Vancouver’s jurisdiction
- Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Water Sustainability Act Approval or Notifications for changes in and about a stream
- Municipal development permits within environmentally sensitive areas to avoid development impacts and allow certain regulations in the local zoning and development bylaw to be varied or supplemented to bring a proposal in line with the local development permit guidelines.