The Riparian Area Regulation (RAR), which was enabled by the Fish Protection Act, was established by the Province in 2005. It requires local governments to protect riparian areas through the development approval process using recommendations contained in Assessment Reports prepared by Qualified Environmental Professionals (QEPs).
The SLRD has enacted RAR through Development Permit Areas (DPAs) established in Official Community Plans (OCPs) and applies to private land and private use of Crown land. Any land alteration within 30 m of a stream or lake requires a development permit under the RAR Development Permit Area (DPA). The major component of a RAR development permit application is an assessment report completed by a QEP, usually a biologist, that describes where building can occur and under what conditions. The QEP report will also indicate the site specific streamside protection and enhancement area, which is the distance (typically 10-15 m) from the waterbody where no development may occur.
Riparian DPAs preclude the movement of soil in a riparian area within that 30 m of waterbodies without first obtaining a Development Permit (DP). According to the Development Permit (DP) guidelines, within the DP area, land must not be altered and building permits will not be issued unless a RAR development permit is issued by the SLRD. As such, if soil has been moved in a riparian area without a permit, the potential recourse is enforcement of Riparian Protection Development Permit Area, if one is established under the OCP.
The Federal Department of Fisheries & Oceans (DFO) deals with riparian issues for anadromous fish (born in fresh water, spending most of life at sea, and returning to fresh water to spawn, e.g. salmon). The Province deals with non-anadromous fish, and there are other aspects, agreements and MOUs between the Province and the Federal Government. Within the last year there have been significant changes at the Provincial level with respect to agency involvement and enforcement issues. It is now known that the Compliance and Enforcement section at Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations (MFLNRO) is the lead provincial agency for RAR enforcement. The Conservation Officer Service at Ministry of Environment (MoE) is no longer dealing with these issues though they may still have some authority to do so.
In addressing riparian conflicts and concerns, residents in the SLRD have several options available. If a RAR DPA has been established an Official Community Plan then all land alteration activities within 30 m of a waterbody require a permit. Complaints may be submitted in writing to the SLRD office with respect to RAR Development Permit issues. Contacts are available for Compliance and Enforcement officers at the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations. Residents could also call the Report All Poachers & Polluters (RAPP) line though as previously noted, the Conservation Officer Service is no longer the primary authority dealing with riparian issues.