Kootenay Lake Development Permit Area Review

The Regional District of Central Kootenay is undertaking a review of its Environmental Development Permit Areas (EDPAs) around Kootenay Lake. Environmental Development Permit Areas are one of the tools used by local governments to ensure that development activities are completed in a way that is sensitive to the natural environment. There are several EDPAs that have been in place around Kootenay Lake for a number of years.

Having EDPAs along Kootenay Lake is important. They require property owners to clearly understand the potential impacts of development activities to the foreshore, avoid these impacts where possible and mitigate or compensate for them where disturbance is unavoidable.

This review is being undertaken to develop a more consistent EDPA around Kootenay Lake. Currently, of the four Electoral Areas bordering the Lake (Areas A, D, E and F) only three (Areas A, D and E) have an EDPA in place. Electoral Area F does not have any EDPA in place.

The EDPA – the area where disturbance or development activities trigger the need for a permit – are different sizes depending on which Electoral Area they are in. Additionally, the expectations for development within these areas are not clearly laid out in each EDPA. These inconsistencies can lead to confusion or miscommunication around what is and isn’t acceptable for developing near Kootenay Lake and misunderstandings for when a Development Permit is required.

The purpose of the Kootenay Lake Development Permit Area Review is to make the EDPAs more consistent across the Electoral Areas, ensure they are aligned with the values of RDCK residents and reflect current conservation best practices. Doing so will preserve the shared values for Kootenay Lake for the long-term and ensure it is a healthy lake that can support all living things that depend on it.

*NEW* - Public Engagement Update

Over the past year, RDCK Planning Staff have been working to answer the question, How can we ensure we are effectively caring for Kootenay Lake’s shoreline as development activities take place?

Based on our research of the recently completed Kootenay Lake Foreshore Integrated Management Planning, what other local governments across the Province are doing, and what we learned through the engagement completed to date for the project, we will be hosting public information sessions later this Summer to share our key learnings with you.

Want to learn more about Riparian Areas and Development Permits?

As part of this initiative, the RDCK has created A Resource for Kootenay Lake Living: a document that provides an overview of riparian areas, shoreline stewardship principles, and the roles of various levels of government along the shoreline. Take a look at, A Resource for Kootenay Lake Living. Additional information on riparian areas and how EDPAs relate to them was covered in the Phase 2 workshops for the project. If you missed the workshops, you can still view the presentation slides .

If you would like to learn more about EDPAs or Development Permit Areas in general, you can watch a video recording that provides more in-depth detail:
Environmental Development Permits Areas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1fTIYtXPnE
Development Permit Areas in the RDCK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7S9Ylt5jdEc

You can also learn more about the project by listening to the Friends of Kootenay Lake: Voices of the Lake podcast (Episode 10), featuring the Project Manager, Corey Scott: https://www.friendsofkootenaylake.ca/initiatives/friends-of-kootenay-lake-podcast-series-voices-of-the-lake/

Looking for more information?

Stay tuned to this webpage and RDCK social media for project updates, including when the survey will be available and how to participate.

If you would like more information on this initiative or wish to be included in a contact list for outreach activities, please contact the Project Manager:

Corey Scott
(250) 352-8162

Other Helpful Resources

The Kootenay Lake Partnership’s (KLP) Shoreline Guidance Document contains detailed information on the ecological, archaeological and Ktunaxa cultural values along the shoreline of Kootenay Lake. To learn more, visit the KLP’s website: https://kootenaylakepartnership.com/

The Kootenay Conservation Program’s (KCP) Stewardship Solutions Toolkit can help you learn more about current programs and incentives in place for private land stewardship. Visit the KCP’s website for a list of these opportunities: https://kootenayconservation.ca/KCPStewardship/

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do I need a Development Permit now?

A Development Permit is required prior to undertaking any activity that involves the alteration of land, removal of vegetation, disturbance of soil, subdivision, or construction of a new structure near Kootenay Lake, where an Environmental Development Permit Area (EDPA) is in place. Refer to the map below to determine if an EDPA applies to your property.

For more information:

Development Permits Page

Development Permit Application Brochure

Will this Review make it harder for me to get a Development Permit?
This Review is intended to ensure the EDPAs surrounding Kootenay Lake reflect commonly shared community values for the Lake, clarify what the requirements for obtaining a Development Permit are and update the existing EDPAs to be consistent with current best conservation practices. The intent of the Review is not to make it harder to get a Development Permit but instead to provide more clarity for the EDPAs around Kootenay Lake so their purpose is better understood. The review also provides an opportunity to ensure the things we value most about Kootenay Lake are considered in the Development Permit process.

Why do Environmental Development Permit Areas exist for Kootenay Lake?
Environmental Development Permit Areas are in place around Kootenay Lake for the purpose of protecting the natural environment, its ecosystems and biological diversity near the Lake, which is commonly known as the “riparian area”. Riparian areas border watercourses and are the transition zones between water and upland areas. They provide the vegetation and wildlife habitat needed for the health of our aquatic environments, such as lakes, rivers, creeks, streams, ravines and wetlands. Where a riparian area is on a property and what it’s commonly made up of are shown in the figure below.

The vegetation and wildlife habitat associated with riparian areas serve an important function in enhancing water quality and the natural environment. Trees, bushes and other plants that make up riparian area vegetation are some of the most important pieces of a healthy lake. Their major benefits are shown in the table below.

The goal of EDPAs is to  protect the natural areas surrounding Kootenay Lake to reduce the impacts of development on the lake. Ideally, riparian areas would be avoided altogether in development. However, this would be incredibly difficult to do because of how land near Kootenay Lake was developed in the past. The Development Permit process balances the needs of individuals with the needs of the environment in recognition of this challenge. It encourages property owners to retain native riparian vegetation, avoid environmentally sensitive areas, limit the amount of disturbance to riparian areas, restore damaged aquatic habitats where possible and choose the most appropriate areas for constructing new buildings. 

When do I need a permit from the Province?
Local governments like the Regional District of Central Kootenay are responsible for all land above the “present natural boundary” of a watercourse and the Provincial and Federal governments are responsible for all land below it. Present natural boundary refers to:

The visible high water mark of any lake, river, stream or other body of water where the presence and action of the water are so common and usual, and so long continued in all ordinary years, as to mark on the soil of the bed of the body of water a character distinct from that of its banks, in vegetation, as well as in the nature of the soil itself.

All work related to building a dock, placing a buoy, removing an old structure near the water’s edge or doing anything else that would disturb the shoreline may require a permit from the Province. The best starting point is to contact FrontCounter BC at 1-877-855-3222 or by email at FrontCounterBC@gov.bc.ca. They  can determine whether a permit is required for the proposed work.

Some activities near the water, such as the removal of old structures, requires disturbance both above and below the present natural boundary. In cases such as this a permit from the Province as well as a Development Permit from the RDCK may be required.


The content on this page was last updated July 25 2022 at 12:11 PM