The stated goal of the British Columbia Fish Protection Act
(the “FPA”) is to protect and preserve fish habitat in waters under
provincial jurisdictions. The Environmental Stewardship Division of
the Ministry of Environment often recommends protection
of a creek's banks to maintain fisheries equilibrium. The FPA authorizes
the Regional Manager, Water Stewardship, Ministry of Environment to take into account the impact on fish and
fish habitat when deciding to grant a license of approval under the
Water Sustainability Act. When this happens, the Approving Officer should
ask the subdivider to return to the Crown a seven-meter strip plus the
creek bed if he or she owns it.
Riparian Areas Regulation (effective March 31, 2005)
The Riparian Areas Regulation B.C. Reg. 376/2004, enacted under Section
12 of the Fish
Protection Act in July 2004, calls on local governments to protect
Riparian Areas during residential, commercial, and industrial development.
They will do so by ensuring that proposed activities
are subject to a science based assessment conducted by a qualified environmental
The Riparian Areas Regulation model uses qualified
environmental professionals, hired by land developers, to assess habitat
and the potential impacts, develop mitigation measures and avoid impacts
of development to fish and fish habitat, particularly riparian habitat.
The assessment methods attached as a schedule to the regulation are a key
component of a regulatory regime for riparian protection that is clear and
measurable, but does not rely exclusively on default set backs. The assessment
is based on the best available science with respect to riparian habitats.
The Riparian Areas Regulation currently applies only to local governments located
on the east side of Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland and the Southern
Interior, as these are the parts of the province that are experiencing the
most rapid urban growth. This includes the following regional districts and
all municipalities within them: Capital, Central Okanagan, Columbia-Shuswap,
Comox-Strathcona, Cowichan Valley, Fraser Valley, Greater Vancouver (except
the City of Vancouver), Nanaimo, North Okanagan, Okanagan-Similkameen, Powell
River, Squamish-Lillooet, Sunshine Coast, Thompson-Nicola and the trust area
under the Islands Trust Act .