On March 31, 2005 the province’s new Riparian Areas Regulation (the “RAR”) will come into force. The RAR, designed to protect fish and fish habitat from inappropriate development, significantly weakens an earlier regulation, the Streamside Protection Regulation (“SPR”).
While, the SPR set minimum standards for how close a new building could be to a fish-bearing stream, the RAR gives a developer a choice in standards. A professional hired by the developer must determine appropriate set-backs, on the basis of either the same formula used in the SPR, or a more complicated calculation which, for many streams, will automatically result in a reduced set-back requirement. Even more troubling is the lack of clarity in the regulation as to whether developers are legally required to implement set-backs.
Despite the shortcomings of the RAR, local governments still have the power to pass bylaws that provide greater protection than the measures set out in the RAR. Local governments should be encouraged to enact more stringent riparian protection requirements.