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Permit requirements murky for properties along Sicamous lagoon

Resident says permits not required since 1970 now enforced in riparian areas
The District of Sicamous Planning and Development Committee looked at provincial regulations for building a dock in lagoon water that is not affected by Riparian Areas Protection Regulation but that the province is now enforcing that legislation on for any new development. This image shows the required setback from the water that any new build would have to be placed at. (District of Sicamous image)

Residents, developers and local government are looking for clarification surrounding the permit application process along watercourse areas in Sicamous.

The provincial government has started to enforce regulations for watercourse development that previously weren’t applied to certain areas. Two applications have been made to complete work on properties along the lagoon at Lot 46 (adjacent to Sicamous Beach Park). The lagoon itself is not on the water development map of locations that require the provincial permits and government approval to make changes to.

The area has not needed approval or a development permit since 1970 but now ministry regulations are stating that any further development does need to follow those steps.

Twin Anchors’ Todd Kyllo presented the issue to the Sicamous Planning and Development Committee at its Jan. 4 meeting, noting the regulations for this area now state property owners must hire a Qualified Environmental Professional to conduct a scientific report and have it approved by the province. The report then would state how many metres from the water any new development would have to be placed. They must also have a water licence issued by Water Licences B.C. to ensure no damage is being done to the lagoon or any fish habitats.

The issue is the lagoon is under its own management plan and the water itself doesn’t fall under the Riparian Areas Protection Regulation (RAPR). The land around the lagoon that the buildings stand on does fall under that legislation and would have to follow the regulations, but the applications submitted so far are for docks extending into the water which the regulations wouldn’t have any impact on. However, the applications still can’t move forward without provincial approval at this point.

Kyllo said he confirmed with the province that the water of the lagoon doesn’t fall under RAPR, and that since every property has a retaining wall around it, the riparian area qualification is changed anyway.

Kyllo said he has been unable to get a straight answer from the province about whether or not property owners need that approval in this scenario. The committee mentioned already existing properties may be grandfathered in and further development may be allowed where there is already a structure and that only new builds require the permit, and Kyllo said the provincial regulations could be bypassed with a written community report, as the original regulations were not enforced on this location. Kyllo also said he has an appointment coming up with the province to clarify the uncertainty.

Moving forward, the committee agreed to look into a head lease for the lagoon, which is a land lease agreement with a local government that permits third parties to make changes without any further approval. The land next to the water would still fall under RAPR legislation, but the water itself could more easily have docks added in the future if there were a head lease in place.

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Rebecca Willson

About the Author: Rebecca Willson

I took my first step into the journalism industry in November 2022 when I moved to Salmon Arm to work for the Observer and Eagle Valley News. I graduated with a journalism degree in December 2021 from MacEwan University in Edmonton.
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