Protection of Sensitive Ecosystems

Chapter 13


All lands shown on Schedule K are designated as a Development Permit Area for Protection of Sensitive Ecosystems, other than riparian ecosystems.


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. 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.


The Protection of Sensitive Ecosystems DPA is established to protect Whistler’s sensitive ecosystems from the effects of development and, where possible, to restore and enhance degraded sensitive ecosystems.

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

  • (a) Renovation or repair of a permanent structure on its existing foundation, including cantilevered or projecting portions, provided there is no further disturbance to land or vegetation.
  • (b) Interior renovations within the existing foundation of a permanent structure.
  • (c) Minor alterations or repairs to existing roads, paths, parking areas or driveways, provided that there is no further disturbance of land or vegetation.
  • (d) Routine maintenance of existing landscaping and lawn areas.
  • (e) Installation of seasonal play or recreational equipment on existing yard/lawn areas, such as sandboxes or swing sets.
  • (f) Construction of trails for non-motorized use consistent with the Whistler Trail Standards, provided they 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 native vegetation.
  • (g) Erection of fencing to minimize human access to environmentally sensitive areas that does not inhibit wildlife passage.
  • (h) Activities conducted under the Provincial Emergency Program or the municipality’s emergency plan.
  • (i) Works in or about a stream approved under the Water Sustainability Act.
  • (j) Maintenance of existing permanent infrastructure within its established footprint, including existing paved surfaces, dikes, drainage works and other utility works.
  • (k) 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.
  • (l) 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.
  • (m) 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.
  • (n) Activities conducted in the Cheakamus Community Forest pursuant to the Forest Act.
  • (o) 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.
  • (p) Subdivision of land where it has been determined by a QEP that:
    • (i) minimum parcel area requirements are met exclusive of any land within any Sensitive Ecosystem Protection Area;
    • (ii) Sensitive Ecosystem Protection Areas are intact, undisturbed and free of development activities and are kept undisturbed, intact and free of development activities; and
    • (iii) no restoration or enhancement of any Sensitive Ecosystem Protection Area is required.
  • (q) Vegetation management related to wildfire hazard reduction when carried out in accordance with a FireSmart® Assessment or fuel management prescription.
  • (r) 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 Sensitive Ecosystems DPA:

  • (a) Applicants should engage a QEP to identify and determine the boundaries of any Sensitive Ecosystem Protection Area on the parcel, identify any potential issues and impacts relating to the proposed development, provide recommendations on avoiding the Sensitive Ecosystem Protection Area, or, if encroachment is unavoidable, minimizing encroachment and providing compensatory habitat.
  • (b) Efforts should be made to locate development away from any Sensitive Ecosystem Protection Area.
  • (c) Without limiting subsection (b) above, proposed development should be located and designed so as to minimize any alteration, damage or disruption to any Sensitive Ecosystem Protection Area and efforts should be made to protect and enhance natural tree cover and vegetation, drainage patterns and landforms.
  • (d) New structures on a parcel should be located as far away from any Sensitive Ecosystem Protection Area as possible and as far away from any Sensitive Ecosystem Protection Area as any existing permanent structures, if any, on the parcel.
  • (e) Plan, design and implement development in a manner that will not lessen the natural function of any Sensitive Ecosystem Protection Area including by removing vegetation, altering surface water and groundwater regimes and flood mitigation capacity, and separating habitat from upland or adjacent habitat.
  • (f) Ensure that core forest habitat and CWH forest continue to provide interior conditions unaffected by nearby human activity.
  • (g) Consider variance of applicable zoning or parking regulations to prevent alteration, damage or disruption to any Sensitive Ecosystem Protection Area.
  • (h) Where any Sensitive Ecosystem Protection Area is disturbed or damaged due to development, the applicant may be required to provide habitat compensation for the portion of the Sensitive Ecosystem Protection 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.
  • (i) On-site habitat compensation is preferred but not mandatory. Habitat compensation may involve either or both restoration of existing habitat and creation of new habitat.
  • (j) Development permits issued may require that:
    • (i) the Sensitive Ecosystem Protection Area be protected or enhanced in accordance with the permit;
    • (ii) the timing and sequence of development occur within specific dates or construction window to minimize environmental impact;
    • (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 Sensitive 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 Sensitive 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) any streams not identified on Schedule J be protected consistently with the Protection of Riparian Ecosystems DPA guidelines;
    • (vii) the recommendations contained in the environmental impact study and/or habitat compensation plan be followed;
    • (viii) 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 Sensitive 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.
    • (ix) 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 sensitive ecosystems development permit. The security taken pursuant to subsection (viii) may constitute the security for the purpose of this subsection, and shall not be released until damage, if any, has been remediated.