For smaller creeks that are linked to fish-bearing streams and which provide nutrients

For smaller creeks that are linked to fish-bearing streams and which provide nutrients

Province’s stream rules trashed by B.C. Ombudsperson

Riparian area regulations ‘don’t protect watercourses’

A B.C. Ombudsperson’s report is ripping the province’s stream rules, just as Maple Ridge council starts discussion of switching to them.

The B.C. government brought in the Riparian Areas Regulation in 2005. It allows developers to hire qualified environmental professionals to determine how far roads and buildings can be built from streams.

Maple Ridge, however, chose to stick with the tougher Streamside Protection Regulations, developed by scientists and environmental groups,  and usually require further setbacks and stream preservation areas.

The report says fewer than half of those qualified environmental professionals who determine the riparian setback areas have taken the government’s three-day training course.

It also says the government is not reviewing assessments of streams and has no system to check on the professionals.

The government hasn’t even changed its regulations following a 2011 court ruling that said cities can’t change the setbacks, ombudsperson Kim Carter says in her report.

Maple Ridge Coun. Cheryl Ashlie is wondering why council is even spending time on the issue, given its heavy workload.

Coun. Al Hogarth, a realtor, previously called for the review of Maple Ridge’s streamside protection regulations and filed a notice of motion two weeks ago, placing the topic on council’s April 22 agenda.

“I like where we are now right now,” Ashlie said. “I’m interested to see what they’re bringing and why.”

Coun. Michael Morden, running for mayor in November’s election, supports a review.

Ashlie said Maple Ridge’s streamside protection regulations, which create large natural corridors that protect streams, are almost a “lapel pin” that sets the district apart.

“I felt we’ve really got a great return on this.”

She also says she hasn’t heard complaints about Maple Ridge’s system, although developers do compare Maple Ridge to other cities that follow the looser riparian areas regulation.

Geoff Clayton, past-president of the Alouette River Management Society, pointed out that even 30-metre setbacks – the default distance for fish-bearing streams– under streamside protection regulations are a compromise.

Clayton said when the regulations were being developed, distances of 100 and 50 metres were discussed.

“My personal view was it was a reasonably fair outcome, but not based on solid scientific facts.”

He said the riparian areas regulations are not scientifically based.

“We know now and suspected all along that the Liberal push for RAR’s was a sop to developers and would not stand up to critical scientific review and now the proof is rolling in that 48 per cent are in non-compliance and that doesn’t speak to the 52 per cent left, that may well fail too, as time goes on.”

Maple Ridge environmental planner Rod Stott said earlier he hasn’t yet seen any scientific evidence proving that riparian areas regulation preserve fish or their habitat. He added that riparian areas regulation are better suited for areas where development is already present.

Leaving natural areas saves cities money because they control flooding and preserve water.

Greta Borick-Cunningham, also with ARMS, Maple Ridge’s steep ravines means that under riparian areas regulation, there would be little room to develop trails or improve slope stability.

While the streams might be protected, the riparian area that supports the stream wouldn’t be protected, she added.

Hogarth says moving to riparian area regulations would make Maple Ridge consistent with other cities. Pitt Meadows, Vancouver and Coquitlam also use RAR.

However, Langley, Surrey, Delta and North and West Vancouver use the tougher streamside protection regulations.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chief Robert Gladstone of Shxwha:y Village at a federal flood funding announcement April 24, 2019. (Jenna Hauck/Chilliwack Progress file)
Consortium of Indigenous chiefs seeking a way to participate in cannabis economy

All Nations Chiefs from the Shxwha:y, Cheam, Soowahlie and Sq’ewlets holding online forum Dec. 2

Capri Bakery Bistro’s Daneile Atte is hoping the economic bounce-back from the COVID-19 slow down comes soon. (Ronan O’Doherty/The News)
Signs of hope for local economic recovery from COVID-19

Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows stakeholders discuss the road back to normalcy for local businesses

The numbers of COVID-19 exposures continue to climb at Maple Ridge schools. (Pixabay)
‘The anxiety is pretty high,’ says Teachers Association president

There have been eight COVID-19 exposures at Maple Ridge schools in the past two weeks

Heather Walker, development coordinator at Community Services, is hoping the community will support their annual auction. (Community Services/Special to The News)
Largest auction fundraiser for Maple Ridge charity moved online

More than 100 items to bid on to support Community Services

Locally the Starfish Pack program currently delivers 125 backpacks to 15 schools in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows. (The News/files)
Christmas plants to benefit hungry children in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows

Meadow Ridge Rotary Christmas Plant sale to raise money for the Starfish Backpack Program

Mary Cox and Jack Plant dance in their pyjamas and slippers at the morning pyjama dance during the Rhythm Reelers’ 25 Annual Rally in the Valley Square Dance Festival in Chilliwack on June 4, 2011. Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 is Square Dancing Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Nov. 29 to Dec. 5

Square Dancing Day, Disability Day and International Ninja Day are all coming up this week

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
2 Lower Mainland churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A big job: Former forests minister Doug Donaldson stands before a 500-year-old Douglas fir in Saanich to announce preservation of some of B.C.’s oldest trees, July 2019. (B.C. government)
B.C. returning to ‘stand-alone’ forests, rural development ministry

Horgan says Gordon Campbell’s super-ministry doesn’t work

Peter Wilson, left, and Micah Rankin, right, formed the Special Prosecutor team that was tasked with reviewing and litigating charges stemming from the Bountiful investigation. Trevor Crawley photo.
End of Bountiful prosecution wraps up decades of legal battles

Constitutional questions had to be settled before a polygamy prosecution could move forward

Despite rumours, Surrey RCMP say they are not issuing tickets to people if they are driving in a vehicle with others from a different household. (File photo)
COVID-19 tickets: No, RCMP aren’t checking vehicle occupancies, restaurant tables

Enforcement about education, not punishment says Surrey RCMP Cpl. Joanie Sidhu

Alexandre Bissonnette, who pleaded guilty to a mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque, arrives at the courthouse in Quebec City on February 21, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mathieu Belanger - POOL
Court strikes down consecutive life sentences; mosque shooter has prison term cut

The decision was appealed by both the defence and the Crown

Gold medallists in the ice dance, free dance figure skating Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, of Canada, pose during their medals ceremony at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Charlie Riedel
Olympic champions Virtue, Moir and Tewksbury among 114 Order of Canada inductees

Moir and Virtue catapulted to national stardom with their gold-medal performances at the Winter Olympics in 2018

Most Read