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How to move forward with bylaws regulating docks
For the last few months, the Bowen Island Municipality (BIM) has been working to update bylaws that relate to private moorage, partly in response to the construction of large docks at Cape Roger Curtis. At the Committee of the Whole meeting on September 9, BIM’s planning consultant Judy McLeod presented three options for moving forward.
McLeod said that her report summarizes the input received from the public and other agencies with regard to the draft amendments to the Land Use and Building Bylaws regarding private moorage facilities.
“There has been considerable debate with regard to how to proceed with amendments: through a two-step process, or to take a step back and reconsider the WG1 (water use general 1) zone within the context not only of tighter regulations, but of also identifying areas of the Bowen Island shoreline where moorage facilities requiring gangways between the float and the shoreline should be permitted at all.” McLeod stated, adding that she looked at the options with a view of the time frame as the municipality has informed the province that the bylaws are under review and has suggested that new applications should not be approved during that process.
“Under option 1, staff would bring forward Bylaw No. 335, including minor modifications arising from the consultation process for second reading and referral to a public hearing. Following a public hearing, council could enact the bylaw changes. [Staff would also] bring forward bylaw No. 336 (amendments to the Building Bylaw) for third reading and work with council and others on further amendments to the WG1 zone to identify areas of the Bowen Island shoreline for further protection,” McLeod’s report states.
Among the pros of this option, she lists that the goal can be accomplished in a time frame in which the province may be prepared to withhold further foreshore tenure applications and that the bylaws would provide regulations regarding the removal of floating breakwaters, set size limits and increase setbacks in a period of about two months.
As second option, McLeod suggests to “abandon the two-step process and work toward a more comprehensive bylaw that would add regulations and also identify areas of Bowen Island’s shoreline where no private moorages would be permitted.”
Where this option would provide an overall vision on Bowen’s shoreline and provide more seamless regulations between areas where moorages with gangways are permitted and areas where only floats and buoys might be permitted, it also requires a much longer timeframe, according to McLeod.
“The time frame required for this work could well extend beyond the province’s willingness to withhold further foreshore tenure approvals” she stated, adding that it also requires considerable staff and council resources.
As option 3, McLeod presented the idea to proceed with the amendments to the building bylaw, independent of any decision that regard the amendments to the Land Use Bylaw. “Bylaw No. 336, 2013 would clarify submission requirements, and require the submission of a building permit application, supported by a qualified professional, for private and group moorages,” her report said. “At this time, considerable staff time and energy is spent reviewing submissions, with no need for a formal application or associated application fee. As well, as there is no current requirement for a building permit, there is no ability to stop work should construction be proceeding without a permit or in contravention of the provisions of the Land Use Bylaw or other applicable regulations.” McLeod noted that even with the authority to issue building permits, the municipality can only stop work that is in contravention of the current, approved zoning or other specific regulations.
Councillor Wolfgang Duntz said, “Although there are some areas where there should be no docks, and that includes Cape Roger Curtis in my opinion, the easiest and fastest way to move forward would be to identify beaches that would be negatively affected by docks,” he said, adding that he believes that there aren’t many areas that would be controversial.
Duntz added that size limitations would likely prevent future applications at Cape Roger Curtis.
Councillor Daron Jennings has been involved in a shoreline audit and said, “[Bowen Island’s] existing communities have done an intelligent thing. They have preserved the main beaches and pushed the docks to the periphery,” he said, adding that many of those docks are community docks. Councillor Andrew Stone said that he believes that it is important to get “the bylaws in place as quickly as possible.”
At the end of the meeting, council directed McLeod to proceed with option 1.