Protection of Riparian Ecosystems

Chapter 13


All lands located within the Protection of Riparian Ecosystems DPA as shown on Schedule J, together with all lands on the same parcel as such.


Pursuant to section 488(1)(a) of the Local Government Act, these lands are hereby designated a development permit area for protection of the natural environment, its ecosystems and biodiversity, and in particular riparian ecosystems. These lands are also designated under section 485 of the Local Government Act as areas in which the municipality may require applicants to provide information on the anticipated impact of development activities on the natural environment of the area affected.


Riparian ecosystems and their associated streams including wetlands represent areas of high biodiversity and a range of habitat features. They are an important connection between land and water, are important components of the hydrological cycle, function in natural erosion, deposition, and flood mitigation processes, and function as wildlife corridors. Riparian ecosystems also provide a natural setting and visual assets of great significance to the municipality. For all these reasons, riparian ecosystems warrant protection from development. In addition, the municipality is obliged by the Riparian Areas Protection Act and Riparian Areas Regulation to protect water bodies and riparian areas from the effects of residential, commercial and industrial development.

Pursuant to section 488(4) of the Local Government Act a development permit is not required in respect of the following:

  • (a) Development outside the Riparian Ecosystem Protection Area provided that the boundary of the Riparian Ecosystem Protection Area is fenced with brightly coloured, secure snow fencing or equivalent for the duration that development activities are occurring on the lands.
  • (b) Renovation or repair of a permanent structure on its existing foundation, provided no further extension or encroachment into the Riparian Ecosystem Protection Area occurs, including cantilevered or projecting portions of the permanent structure, and provided that there is no clearing, grading or disturbance to soils, vegetation or trees within the Riparian Ecosystem Protection Area and no drainage alterations.
  • (c) Interior renovations within the existing foundation of a permanent structure.
  • (d) Minor alterations or repairs to existing roads, paths, parking areas or driveways, provided that there is no further disturbance of land or vegetation.
  • (e) Routine maintenance of existing landscaping and lawn areas.
  • (f) Installation of seasonal play or recreational equipment on existing yard/lawn areas, such as sandboxes or swing sets.
  • (g) Construction of trails for non-motorized use consistent with the Whistler Trail Standards, provided they are located further than 10 metres from the high water mark of a stream, do not exceed 1.0 metre in width, are constructed of pervious natural material with no concrete, asphalt or pavers and no creosoted or otherwise treated wood, and require no removal of vegetation.
  • (h) Erection of fencing to minimize human access to environmentally sensitive areas provided the fencing does not inhibit wildlife passage and requires no removal of vegetation.
  • (i) Activities conducted under the Provincial Emergency Program or the municipality’s emergency plan.
  • (j) Works in or about a stream approved under the Water Sustainability Act.
  • (k) Activities conducted in the Cheakamus Community Forest pursuant to the Forest Act.
  • (l) Maintenance of existing works and services within its established footprint, including dikes, drainage works and other utility works.
  • (m) Alteration of land or construction of a building in accordance with the conditions of approval resulting from a federal or provincial environmental assessment or review process.
  • (n) Alteration of land or construction of a building or structure that has been approved through a resort master planning process administered by the Province of British Columbia that includes a provincial environmental assessment or review process.
  • (o) Alteration of land or construction of a building that is consistent with an approved subdivision plan and established building envelopes registered by covenant in accordance with plans and recommendations of and under the supervision of a QEP prior to the adoption of the Resort Municipality of Whistler Official Community Plan, 2018.
  • (p) Alteration of land or construction of a building or structure in accordance with a development or building permit issued prior to the adoption of the Resort Municipality of Whistler Official Community Plan, 2018.
  • (q) Subdivision of land where:
    • (i) minimum parcel area requirements are met exclusive of the Riparian Ecosystem Protection Area
    • (ii) the Riparian Ecosystem Protection Areas are intact, undisturbed and free of development activities and are kept undisturbed, intact and free of development activities;
    • (iii) no development activities related to the creation and servicing of parcels will occur in the Riparian Ecosystem Protection Area.
  • (r) Vegetation management related to wildfire hazard reduction when carried out in accordance with a FireSmart® Assessment or fuel management prescription.
  • (s) The following activities when carried out in accordance with the recommendations of a QEP and approved in writing by the municipality’s Manager of Environmental Stewardship:
    • (i) ecological restoration and enhancement projects;
    • (ii) removal of dead, terminally diseased, damaged, hazardous or invasive plant species.

The following guidelines apply within the Protection of Riparian Ecosystems DPA:

  • (a) Any proposed development in the Riparian Ecosystem Protection Area should be located so as to avoid any damaging impact to the Riparian Ecosystem Protection Area and efforts should be made to protect and enhance the natural features of the Riparian Ecosystem Protection Area, including the tree cover and vegetation, drainage patterns and landforms.
  • (b) New structures on a parcel should be located as far away from the stream as is possible or feasible and in any event as far away from the stream as existing permanent structures, if any, on the parcel.
  • (c) Applicants may be required to submit an environmental impact study, prepared by a QEP, to identify any potential issues relating to the proposed development and its impacts on the Riparian Ecosystem Protection Area and relating to protection, preservation and enhancement of the Riparian Ecosystem Protection Area, and to identify any mitigative measures that should be undertaken.
  • (d) Where land and/or natural vegetation within 15 metres of the high water mark of a stream is or may be disturbed or damaged due to proposed development, the applicant may be required to provide habitat compensation for the portion of the area that will be affected. A habitat compensation plan may need to be coordinated with or prepared by the QEP and based on a legal survey prepared by a certified B.C. Land Surveyor.
  • (e) To determine the location of the Riparian Ecosystem Protection Area on a parcel, the applicant may be required to confirm, with the assistance of a QEP and illustrated by certified legal survey, the 30 metre distance from the high water mark of the stream in relation to property lines and existing and proposed development.
  • (f) Development permits issued may vary applicable zoning or parking regulations, including but not limited to minimum setback requirements, to prevent disturbance to land and/or natural vegetation within the Riparian Ecosystem Protection Area.
  • (g) Development permits issued may require that:
    • (i) habitat and trees or other vegetation within the Riparian Ecosystem Protection Area be preserved or enhanced in accordance with the permit;
    • (ii) the timing and sequence of development occur within specific dates or construction window to minimize impact to streams, fish or wildlife species;
    • (iii) specific development works or construction techniques (e.g., erosion and sediment control measures, fencing off of trees or vegetation, permanent fencing, signage and access controls) be used to ensure minimal or no impact to the Riparian Ecosystem Protection Area;
    • (iv) mitigation measures (e.g., removal of impervious surfaces, replanting of riparian species) be undertaken to reduce impact or restore habitat within the Riparian Ecosystem Protection Area;
    • (v) if any species at risk habitat and/or ecosystems at risk is identified protection measures be undertaken that follow best management practices for the species or ecosystem at risk;
    • (vi) the recommendations contained in the environmental impact study be followed;
    • (vii) security in the form of a cash deposit or letter of credit be provided to secure satisfactory completion of habitat protection works, restoration measures, habitat compensation or other works for the protection of the Riparian Ecosystem Protection Area (the “required works”). This security shall be in the amount of 110 per cent of the estimated value of the required works.
    • (viii) security in the form of a cash deposit or letter of credit be provided to secure recovery of the cost of any works, construction or other activities with respect to the correction of any damage to the environment that results as a consequence of a contravention of any protection of riparian ecosystem development permit. The security taken pursuant to subsection (vii) may constitute the security for the purpose of this subsection, and shall not be released until damage, if any, has been remediated.