All is silent on semi-waterfront docks in the Shuswap. Minister Thomson was on NL radio recently and told Jim Harrison that a new policy will be announced soon. This is the same message we’ve been getting for the last 2 years. The problem of uncertainty still remains for semi-waterfront owners. As docks age they will need extensive maintenance or replacement. Right now Bylaw 900 allows grandfathering of semi-waterfront docks but also specifies that if more than 75% of the dock is replaced within 3 years, it will be considered as a new dock and new docks are not allowed. So semi-waterfront owners are faced with losing their docks through attrition or using increasing unsafe structures.
We also have a new potential problem with docks and the regional district. I’ve been tracking a dock application in Anglemont for the last 3 years. The usable area of the dock is 24.5 m2 although the regional district considered it to be 31.5 m2 as the owner had some decorative log slabs added to the sides and ends for aesthetic reasons. It took the owners 2 years to get through the provincial process for specific authorization because it was larger than 24 m2. This cost thousands of dollars for the environmental assessment. Fortunately the owners were able to do their own bathymetric survey to determine the required ramp length to meet the 1.5 m water depth requirement.
They then applied for a development permit that was rejected by Development Services because the dock was larger than 24 m2. As Kafkaesque as this sounds, they then retained 2 separate lawyers who finally convinced the regional district that it should be brought to the board for reconsideration. Although staff continued to recommend that the reconsideration be denied, the board voted in favour with the only dissenting vote coming from Falkland.
As Alice noted, the story gets curiouser and curiouser. Bylaw 900 has a maximum dock size of 24 m2 as a direct result of instructions given to the CSRD from the province. When Bylaw 900 was first introduced, the maximum dock size was 20 m2 including the ramp. The province changed this to 24 m2 not including the ramp and Bylaw 900 was immediately changed to reflect the new rules.
In this case, the province issued specific approval for a larger dock based on the environmental assessment and the bathymetric survey. Clearly the province was OK with the larger dock but Development Services disagreed. Why the regional district would not follow the province’s lead in this case is anyone’s guess? My opinion is that our regional district board should be focused on more important governance issues rather than second guessing the province’s professional biologists and crown land management experts about docks.
While I’m not promoting it, this is a great example of why a lot of waterfront owners are ignoring both the province’s and the CSRD’s permitting process.