Environmentally Sensitive Areas Management Strategy Update

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Our Environmentally Sensitive Areas Management Strategy helps us balance urban development with the protection of Port Moody’s natural areas: our forests, streams, wetlands, and marine shoreline.

The Strategy outlines specific things the City and private property owners can do to protect and manage environmentally sensitive areas (ESAs) during the development process. We put this Strategy into practice through the designation of a development permit area (DPA) for environmentally sensitive areas and associated DPA guidelines. For property owners, this means you may need an environmental development permit (DP) if you are planning to develop within the designated area.

Please note that definitions for words in bold blue type can be found in our list of key terms.

This Strategy was adopted by Council 20 years ago and it’s time for an update. Take a look at a historical timeline of the City’s efforts to protect ESAs during the development process.

Development of the initial strategy involved mapping and creating an inventory of watercourses, wetlands, forests, and marine areas. Mapping technology has improved tremendously in recent years and so has our knowledge of how to protect, restore, and connect our natural areas during the development process. We must also ensure that all development in Port Moody adheres to current federal, provincial, and municipal regulations such as the federal Fisheries Act, provincial Riparian Areas Protection Regulation, and Port Moody’s Zoning Bylaw.

What’s changing?

The proposed update includes:

  • accurate mapping, including improved mapping of watercourses (including ditches), forest areas and marine high water;
  • a revised development permit area, with a name change from “DPA 4: Environmentally Sensitive Areas” to “Environmental Development Permit Area” (EDPA);
  • the addition of assessment areas, which are portions of land around ESAs (15 metres around forest ESAs and 30 metres upland from the marine high water mark) where the potential impact of development activities on nearby natural areas would need to be considered and assessed (assessment areas are not setbacks; they are areas where you may need a permit if you are planning to develop); and
  • updated DPA guidelines that incorporate best practices for the protection and restoration of ESAs, reduce negative impacts related to nearby urban development, and ensure requirements of senior governments are met.

We are proposing assessment areas in recognition of the ecological value and sensitivity of our forests and the marine shoreline. This change would bring these areas in line with other parts of the city where development activities are already reviewed to determine if environmental permits are required.

To find out how the proposed update would affect the boundaries of the existing development permit area for ESAs, take a look at Map 1 and Table 1. They show what’s included within the boundaries of the existing permit area and the proposed permit area.

Map 1Table 1


Find out more

Read the full proposed ESA Management Strategy update (66mb) (PDF), view our info sheet titled "How would the proposed changes affect property owners?", take a look at the resources in the right hand column, or ask a question below.

Thank you to everyone who participated in our general information session on January 28, 2021 or our targeted workshop for residents and property owners along the marine shoreline on February 4, 2021.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us!

Thank you to everyone who filled out a feedback form by February 21, 2021. City Council will consider a public engagement summary and the proposed ESA Management Strategy update at a council meeting in spring 2021. We'll share the engagement summary on this page.

Our Environmentally Sensitive Areas Management Strategy helps us balance urban development with the protection of Port Moody’s natural areas: our forests, streams, wetlands, and marine shoreline.

The Strategy outlines specific things the City and private property owners can do to protect and manage environmentally sensitive areas (ESAs) during the development process. We put this Strategy into practice through the designation of a development permit area (DPA) for environmentally sensitive areas and associated DPA guidelines. For property owners, this means you may need an environmental development permit (DP) if you are planning to develop within the designated area.

Please note that definitions for words in bold blue type can be found in our list of key terms.

This Strategy was adopted by Council 20 years ago and it’s time for an update. Take a look at a historical timeline of the City’s efforts to protect ESAs during the development process.

Development of the initial strategy involved mapping and creating an inventory of watercourses, wetlands, forests, and marine areas. Mapping technology has improved tremendously in recent years and so has our knowledge of how to protect, restore, and connect our natural areas during the development process. We must also ensure that all development in Port Moody adheres to current federal, provincial, and municipal regulations such as the federal Fisheries Act, provincial Riparian Areas Protection Regulation, and Port Moody’s Zoning Bylaw.

What’s changing?

The proposed update includes:

  • accurate mapping, including improved mapping of watercourses (including ditches), forest areas and marine high water;
  • a revised development permit area, with a name change from “DPA 4: Environmentally Sensitive Areas” to “Environmental Development Permit Area” (EDPA);
  • the addition of assessment areas, which are portions of land around ESAs (15 metres around forest ESAs and 30 metres upland from the marine high water mark) where the potential impact of development activities on nearby natural areas would need to be considered and assessed (assessment areas are not setbacks; they are areas where you may need a permit if you are planning to develop); and
  • updated DPA guidelines that incorporate best practices for the protection and restoration of ESAs, reduce negative impacts related to nearby urban development, and ensure requirements of senior governments are met.

We are proposing assessment areas in recognition of the ecological value and sensitivity of our forests and the marine shoreline. This change would bring these areas in line with other parts of the city where development activities are already reviewed to determine if environmental permits are required.

To find out how the proposed update would affect the boundaries of the existing development permit area for ESAs, take a look at Map 1 and Table 1. They show what’s included within the boundaries of the existing permit area and the proposed permit area.

Map 1Table 1


Find out more

Read the full proposed ESA Management Strategy update (66mb) (PDF), view our info sheet titled "How would the proposed changes affect property owners?", take a look at the resources in the right hand column, or ask a question below.

Thank you to everyone who participated in our general information session on January 28, 2021 or our targeted workshop for residents and property owners along the marine shoreline on February 4, 2021.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us!

Thank you to everyone who filled out a feedback form by February 21, 2021. City Council will consider a public engagement summary and the proposed ESA Management Strategy update at a council meeting in spring 2021. We'll share the engagement summary on this page.

  • Map 1 – Proposed Environmental Development Permit Area (EDPA)

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    14 Jan 2021

    Map 1 below shows the areas included within the boundaries of the proposed Environmental Development Permit Area.

    Click on the map to download a PDF (1.3mb).


    Map 1 below shows the areas included within the boundaries of the proposed Environmental Development Permit Area.

    Click on the map to download a PDF (1.3mb).


  • Table 1 – Comparison of existing permit area and proposed permit area

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    14 Jan 2021

    The table below shows what’s included within the boundaries of the existing permit area (DPA 4) and the proposed permit area (EDPA)

    Existing permit area (DPA 4) boundaries include:

    Proposed permit area (EDPA) boundaries include:

    Forest ESAs with the exception of areas identified as low sensitivity

    Forest ESAs (NEW: areas identified as low sensitivity are no longer excluded)

    NEW: 15-metre assessment area (not a setback) around forest ESAs to consider potential impact to large trees and root systems

    Riparian ESAs

    Riparian ESAs

    Land within 30 metres of riparian ESAs (provincial legal requirement)

    Land within 30 metres of riparian ESAs...

    The table below shows what’s included within the boundaries of the existing permit area (DPA 4) and the proposed permit area (EDPA)

    Existing permit area (DPA 4) boundaries include:

    Proposed permit area (EDPA) boundaries include:

    Forest ESAs with the exception of areas identified as low sensitivity

    Forest ESAs (NEW: areas identified as low sensitivity are no longer excluded)

    NEW: 15-metre assessment area (not a setback) around forest ESAs to consider potential impact to large trees and root systems

    Riparian ESAs

    Riparian ESAs

    Land within 30 metres of riparian ESAs (provincial legal requirement)

    Land within 30 metres of riparian ESAs (provincial legal requirement)

    Streamside setbacks, as defined in the Zoning Bylaw

    Streamside setbacks, as defined in the Zoning Bylaw

    NEW: While there are no changes to streamside setbacks, the mapping of existing watercourse locations including ditches has improved

    (Please note these locations were already subject to the setbacks included in the Zoning Bylaw, regardless of whether they are were accurately depicted on earlier maps)

    Marine ESA

    Marine ESA

    NEW: 30-metre assessment area (not a setback) upland from the marine high water mark


    (Please note all development below the high water mark or within the Port of Vancouver boundary is under federal jurisdiction and would be referred to the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority for review)

  • Historical Timeline

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    14 Jan 2021
    ⦿
    1988
    streamside setbacks established in Zoning Bylaw

    ⦿
    2001
    Council adopts ESA Management Strategy Phase 1

    ⦿ 2003
    Council adopts ESA Management Strategy Phase 2

    ⦿ 2006
    streamside setbacks revised to enhance protection of riparian areas and address changes in senior government legislation

    ⦿
    2010
    Official Community Plan updated to include new development permit area (DPA 4: Environmentally Sensitive Areas) and associated guidelines (Chapter 16 and Appendix 2) and policies (Chapter 6)

    ⦿ 2014
    Official Community Plan updated to include ESA policy #64 (Chapter 6): “…the City will explore alternative strategic planning processes for ensuring that upland use decisions
    ...
    ⦿
    1988
    streamside setbacks established in Zoning Bylaw

    ⦿
    2001
    Council adopts ESA Management Strategy Phase 1

    ⦿ 2003
    Council adopts ESA Management Strategy Phase 2

    ⦿ 2006
    streamside setbacks revised to enhance protection of riparian areas and address changes in senior government legislation

    ⦿
    2010
    Official Community Plan updated to include new development permit area (DPA 4: Environmentally Sensitive Areas) and associated guidelines (Chapter 16 and Appendix 2) and policies (Chapter 6)

    ⦿ 2014
    Official Community Plan updated to include ESA policy #64 (Chapter 6): “…the City will explore alternative strategic planning processes for ensuring that upland use decisions protect and enhance the intertidal foreshore and marine environment of Burrard Inlet”

    ⦿
    2015
    2015-2018 Council Strategic Plan identifies need to review and update ESA Management Strategy: “The environment is higher priority through improvements to administration, planning and policy development”

    ⦿
    2018
    streamside setbacks revised to enhance protection of riparian areas and meet senior government requirements for all watercourses

    ⦿
    2019-20
    technical work begins for ESA Management Strategy update (e.g. more accurate mapping using LiDAR – Light Detection and Ranging, a method for measuring distances using laser light; data collection; field verification; review of best management practices and current approaches)
  • Key Terms

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    14 Jan 2021

    Environmentally sensitive areas (ESAs) are natural areas that:

    • have the potential to support healthy and diverse communities of native plants and wildlife;
    • provide habitat for species at risk; and/or
    • are unusual or unique within a regional context.

    Our ESAs are vital for the continued healthy functioning of the valued ecosystems within Port Moody’s municipal boundaries.

    A development permit area (DPA) is an area where specific measures may be required to address special conditions or meet established objectives when development activity is proposed. In the case of DPA 4 (environmentally sensitive areas), specific measures may be required to protect the natural...

    Environmentally sensitive areas (ESAs) are natural areas that:

    • have the potential to support healthy and diverse communities of native plants and wildlife;
    • provide habitat for species at risk; and/or
    • are unusual or unique within a regional context.

    Our ESAs are vital for the continued healthy functioning of the valued ecosystems within Port Moody’s municipal boundaries.

    A development permit area (DPA) is an area where specific measures may be required to address special conditions or meet established objectives when development activity is proposed. In the case of DPA 4 (environmentally sensitive areas), specific measures may be required to protect the natural environment and meet provincial and federal government requirements and regulations.

    For other DPAs, specific measures may be required for other purposes such as protecting development from hazards or meeting established goals for the form and character of buildings.

    Development permit area (DPA) guidelines outline a range of measures that may address the special conditions or established objectives for a specific DPA. Removal of invasive plant species, use of pervious paving, and adoption of nature-based stormwater management strategies are a few examples of specific measures included in the guidelines for DPA 4.

    A development permit (DP) is a permit approved by City Council (or City staff in the case of a minor development permit) that identifies specific measures that must be taken as a condition of development. The measures are selected from the DPA guidelines based on the type, scale, and location of the proposed development activity.

    An assessment area is a portion of land around an environmentally sensitive area (15 metres around forest ESAs and 30 metres upland from the marine high water mark) where the potential impact of development activities on nearby natural areas would need to be considered and assessed. Assessment areas are included within the boundaries of the proposed permit area; a permit may be required if development activity is planned within the designated area.

    A setback is the required minimum distance between a building, structure, or other use of land and an established boundary, such as a lot (land registered as a separate parcel in the Land Title Office) boundary or a stream (measured from top of bank). Streamside setbacks are specified in the Zoning Bylaw (Section 5.4 Streamside Protection).

  • How would the proposed changes affect property owners?

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    14 Jan 2021

    Environmental development permits are already required for specific development activities on land located in and around our protected natural areas, so the proposed update to the ESA Management Strategy will not have a direct impact on the majority of property owners. However, the boundaries of the proposed permit area have been revised to include some additional properties, such as those along the marine shoreline. This change brings these properties in line with others located near natural areas.

    If your property is located within the boundaries of the proposed permit area and you plan to develop or redevelop your land, you...

    Environmental development permits are already required for specific development activities on land located in and around our protected natural areas, so the proposed update to the ESA Management Strategy will not have a direct impact on the majority of property owners. However, the boundaries of the proposed permit area have been revised to include some additional properties, such as those along the marine shoreline. This change brings these properties in line with others located near natural areas.

    If your property is located within the boundaries of the proposed permit area and you plan to develop or redevelop your land, you will need to arrange a review by City staff to determine if your planned activities require a development permit (DP) or a minor DP.

    A DP is a permit approved by City Council that identifies specific measures that must be taken as a condition of development. A Minor DP can be approved by City staff and can be used to process applications for the reconstruction of single family homes in or around ESAs.

    Not all activities require a permit – some activities, such as interior renovations, minor repairs, and maintenance within existing landscaped areas, are exempt.

    It’s important to note that a development permit area designation is not intended to stop development or prevent re-building of single-family homes; it's a flexible tool that allows the City to evaluate specific conditions and activities, and work with property owners to reduce the impact of development on ESAs and restore habitat where possible. The purpose of the development permit process is to gather more information about the landscape and environment, identify where approvals or notifications may be required (federal, provincial, local), and to modify development plans if necessary to protect our natural areas.

    Permit requirements will continue to depend on the type, scale, and location of development and existing property conditions. When small, single-family home construction with no direct impact on ESAs is proposed within assessment areas, it is anticipated that a minor DP will be required outlining measures for protecting natural areas. For larger-scale developments, such as multi-family projects, a more detailed assessment would be required to determine specific measures and conditions of development.

    Activities that may require a DP or minor DP include:

    • demolition
    • construction or addition to a building or other structure
    • land alteration (e.g. clearing, grading, impervious surfaces, infrastructure, new landscaping)
    • subdivision
    • rezoning

    Exempt activities include:

    • activities that comply with existing agreements with senior government agencies or covenant terms
    • property works (e.g. interior renovations, maintenance and repair of existing buildings and structures, gardening, maintenance within existing landscaped areas)
    • ecological restoration and enhancement works
    • emergency and hazard works
    • public utilities and operational works

    Please see the illustration for examples of measures that may be required under development permits to protect and restore ESAs: