The Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) is preparing to bring all municipal park land into compliance with provincial regulations governing docks and barges – and is encouraging private residences in Whistler to do the same.
The work began earlier this year before the COVID-19 crisis impacted Whistler, and is being resumed now to bring docks and barges into compliance ahead of the 2020 summer season.
In British Columbia, the Province owns nearly all the freshwater foreshore. All docks, barges and other private moorage facilities require authorization through the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRO).
“Over the past year we have heard from residents about a range of issues on Whistler’s lakes – including noise, pollution, unauthorized construction and impact to the lake experience,” said Mayor Jack Crompton. “Following this public concern, the RMOW investigated solutions and through this work it became evident that most docks and barges in Whistler do not have the proper provincial permits.”
As a result, the Ministry has informed the RMOW that they will be conducting a compliance review of docks and barges in Whistler over the next year to bring all private moorage facilities into compliance.
Province owns foreshore throughout British Columbia
Nearly all freshwater foreshore throughout British Columbia is Crown land. It is regulated by FLNRO through the Land Act.
Freshwater foreshore is defined as the land between the high and low watermarks of streams, rivers and lakes. Land adjacent to foreshore may be privately owned, but the public retain the privilege to access the foreshore.
The construction, placement and use of docks, barges and other private moorage facilities on the foreshore requires authorization from the Province.
In addition, bodies of water and associated recreational vessels in British Columbia are governed by the Federal Government through Transport Canada and the Navigable Waters Protection Act.
Docks on Municipal Park Land
To move into compliance with provincial regulations, the RMOW will seek the removal of any private docks constructed on municipal park land.
Over the years, several unauthorized docks have been built on Alta Lake Park and other municipal park foreshore in the valley.
The RMOW will make attempts to contact the owners of these docks and work with them to have all docks removed by the end of 2020. To ensure everyone has equal access to the Alta Lake Park land and lakefront, the RMOW will submit a foreshore application to build a public dock in 2021 for this area of the park.
Authorization for residential docks and barges
To help bring all docks and barges in Whistler into compliance with provincial and federal regulations, the RMOW also encourages all residents with these facilities to begin taking steps to get required provincial permits and understand federal regulations.
Many current residential docks, barges and associated buildings (non-moorage structures) do not meet the provincial and federal regulations. For example, the RMOW understands there are approximately 96 docks on Alta Lake that currently are not in compliance with the senior government requirements. A dock being taxed by the Provincial government does not mean it is in compliance.
To learn about the process and submit a foreshore application, visit the Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations’ website.
For more details about docks and barges in Whistler, visit whistler.ca/docks.