Our local government has hired a consultant who is undertaking a review of the 100 m Lake Development Permit. Results are expected in 6 – 8 weeks. One of the things being evaluated is the requirement for a hydrology report. I think this is an unnecessary expense that has produced little of benefit in storm water management or septic design. It also exceeds the requirements of the provincial Sewerage System Regulation and provides no discernable benefit for the cost and delay.
Another issue that is being addressed is the requirement for a development permit to carry out emergency repairs to a septic system. I was recently approached by a septic contractor who had a situation where it was going to take all summer to get a development permit to carry out repairs to a leaky septic tank on a waterfront property. This would have resulted in untreated sewage leaching into the lake all summer. Fortunately common sense prevailed on both sides. The contractor repaired the tank without a development permit. I contacted the planning department who agreed that this was the best outcome in this circumstance and they would accept an “after the fact” application for a development permit with no typical doubling of the permit fee as a penalty. I’m still not sure what a hydrology report would contribute to a situation like this.
Another interesting development over the last year is the interpretation of the maximum size of an accessory building in zones that have a restriction. If you are building a detached garage and the zoning requires off street parking for 2 vehicles, you can add an extra 177.61 ft2 for each of the vehicles for a total of an extra 355.22 ft2. In Scotch Creek this means the maximum size goes from 807.27 ft2 to 1162.49 ft2.
There is also a new interpretation of what is allowed for replacement and expansion of “existing non-conforming” buildings. Some examples are buildings that were built to low or not far enough back from the lake to meet flood proofing requirements. The standard test in legal precedence is that the “non-conformity” cannot increase if the building is being reconstructed. So in this case you can replace an older building but you can’t build lower or closer. In the past the regional district interpreted this to mean that adding a second story would increase non-conformity. This has also changed and the new interpretation is that adding a floor is OK.
While this is all good, the information is not getting out to the public. I found out about the ability to carry out emergency repairs to septic systems by asking about a specific situation. I found out about the increased size of accessory buildings from a builder who was applying for a permit. I found out that adding a second floor to an existing non-conforming building was OK when I saw an old waterfront foundation that was too low and too close to the lake being built on and asked why it got a permit without a variance.
I think there is a need to get this information out to the public so people know what their options are.
UPDATE: AUG 1, 2015
In [the above] article I stated that there is also a new interpretation of what is allowed for replacement and expansion of “existing non-conforming” buildings. I was incorrect and offer an apology to the regional district and anyone I misled. Adding a second floor to a house that is too close to the lake to meet floodplain setback regulations is not OK. The test of “no increased non-conformance” has been determined by the courts to be volumetric rather than just the footprint of a house.