Local Over-regulation

by Dave Cunliffe, Chamber Chair – February Kicker

I have often mentioned in my articles the excessive amount of regulation we face in the North Shuswap, the expense and delays it causes, and how this negatively affects our local economy.

To illustrate, I thought I would compare the process of building a 3,500 ft2 rancher style, waterfront home in Scotch Creek on a 13,000 ft2 lot (approximately 75 feet by 173 feet) with what someone would face building the same home in our regional district to the west.

Anyone building in Scotch Creek faces the following list of regulations. 

  1. Bylaw 644 – Development Approval Information

This is the bylaw that requires an applicant to fill out a Preliminary Project Impact Assessment Form that duplicates most of the information required in the Development Permit application.  It also allows the regional district ask for a detailed survey of the property carried out by a Land Surveyor ($1,500 – $2,000), can invoke an archaeological review (best case $2,500) if you are in an area with high archaeological potential, and assess impacts on transportation, natural environment, the agricultural land reserve, …and on and on.

  1. Bylaw 825 – Scotch Creek/Lee Creek Zoning Bylaw

The example being used has greater than 25% lot coverage so a full rezoning is required.  The application will cost $1,500 and the process will take between 12 and 18 months.  This will involve advertising, a referral to all agencies; Highways, Interior Health, Ministry of Forests, etc. which often involves additional costs.  It will also include a full public hearing and require a final decision by the board.

  1. Bylaw 830 – North Shuswap Official Community Plan

The cost to apply for a development permit is $350 but there are other associated costs.

  • Hazardous Lands Development Permit Area 1
  • DPA 1 – Flooding and Debris Flow Potential DP

If the lot is west of Squilax Anglemont and Wharf Roads, a surface water hydrology report is required at a typical cost of $2,500.  A covenant will also have to be registered on title “saving the regional district and the province Harmless” in the event of property damage.  This will cost a further $2,000 in legal fees and registration costs at the Land Title Office.

  • DPA 2 – Steep Slope DP

If any portion of the lot has a slope of greater than 30%, this will require a report from a professional engineer carried out under the Legislated Landslide Regulations and could cost between $3,000 and $10,000.  Despite the wording in the bylaw, the regional district is accepting a BC Building Code Schedule B from an professional engineer to cover this requirement.

  • DPA 3 – Interface Fire DP

This is the easy one.  Agree to follow the Fire Smart recommendations for building your new house and this is waived.

  • DPA 4 – Foreshore and Water DP

If you want a new dock or to install a mooring buoy, you need to apply for this development permit.  The rules are contained in yet another bylaw, Bylaw 900 – Lakes Bylaw.  This lot would be entitled to one mooring buoy and one maximum 24 m2 dock.  The dock will need provincial approval first which takes 3 to 6 months to get.

If you want a bigger dock, you first need to get provincial approval.  You then need to apply for Development Variance Permit at a cost of $650 that will take another 6 months.  At the end of this process, the board will decide if they will approve the larger dock or not.

  1. DPA 5 – Lakes 100 m DP

All new homes will require either connecting to an existing septic system or most likely building a new one.  This permit requires that all work be done by a professional engineer (even in cases where provincial legislation will allow a less expensive practitioner) and a groundwater hydrology report ($2,000).

  1. Riparian Areas Regulation DP

Any development within 30 m (100 feet) of the lake requires this development permit that involves getting a Riparian Area Assessment ($2,000).

At the end of this process, all of the development permits are registered as one document on the title of your property.  If you’re broke, exhausted, or just need time to recover from what you’ve gone through, don’t stop now.  You have 2 years to complete your building or you get to start over with new applications

  1. Bylaw 630 – Building Regulation

Congratulations, you’ve now reached the relatively straightforward part of this process.  Prepare a full set of building drawings and submit them to the building official.  They will tell you where you need professional oversight for things like structural elements not covered in the Building Code or for foundation issues.  They will also tell you what the fee is.  Pay your fees, submit the Building Code Schedules from the required professionals, and get a permit in a few weeks.

If you are building on a small lot, the building inspector might ask for a location survey before you pour your foundations to make sure all setbacks are correct ($700).

The following regulations govern building in our neighbouring regional district to the west.

  1. Bylaw 2400 – Zoning

Unlike the North Shuswap that has 3 separate zoning bylaws and some areas with no zoning, this regional district has one bylaw that covers the entire regional district.  Wildfire management is contained in the General Regulations. Floodplain issues, lakeshore development (only applies to rezoning applications), and the Riparian Area Regulation are all contained within their own section of the bylaw.  There is no separate application process.

In the example of building a 3,500 ft2 rancher style, waterfront home on a 13,000 ft2 lot, maximum site coverage is 40% so no rezoning or other variance is required.

  1. Bylaw 2066 – Building Regulations

This process is the same as within our regional district except a building permit application is the only application you need to make.

Prepare a full set of building drawings and submit them to the building official.  They will tell you where you need professional oversight for things like structural elements not covered in the Building Code or for foundation issues.  They will also tell you what the fee is.  Pay your fees, submit the Building Code Schedules from the required professionals, and get a permit in a few weeks.  Before you pour your foundation, you may also be asked for a location survey to ensure all setbacks are correct.

If there are works within 30 m of the lake, you will still be required to do a Riparian Area Assessment ($2,000).

If your building plan shows a direct conflict with a recorded archaeological site (not areas of high potential), you will need to hire an archaeologist and deal with the situation as required by provincial legislation.

For septic disposal, you need to file a design with Interior Health prepared under the BC Sewerage Regulation rules.

A lot of people who bought waterfront property in the North Shuswap have told me that if they had known how onerous the process was before they bought, they would have gone somewhere else.  If a process is too restrictive, people are discouraged from spending money which directly impacts builders, trades, and suppliers.

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