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Environmentally-sensitive development permit areas


  • Wednesday December 2nd
  • 6-8pm at West Bench Elementary School (1604 West Bench Drive)


I occasionally receive phone calls from people complaining about large scale destruction in Area F. For example:

  • A number of people asked me whether a West Bench resident was permitted to fill in a gully on his property.
  • I had a call from a Naramata resident complaining that someone on our side of the lake was digging up so much grassland with a D9 cat that the scar could be seen from the other side of the valley.

When asked about whether such things are permitted by the RDOS the answer (at least in Area F) is generally "yes": We can only enforce bylaws we have and we do not have any bylaws to protect environmentally sensitive areas (riparian areas are a special case of environmental sensitivity that are protected by a provincial act).

The RDOS is moving towards addressing this problem.  Specifically, we are moving towards developing "environmentally sensitive permit areas".  Put simply, this means if you want to disturb land in a designated "environmentally-sensitive" area, you will require a permit from the RDOS.  Getting a permit will require that you, as a property owner, pay a fee plus undertake some studies at your cost to make the case that your project will not destroy anything of significant ecological value.  Yes, it is more cost and more red tape.  But what we are hearing from many RDOS residents is that we need more red tape--more checks and balances--to prevent environmentally-sensitive land from being irrevocably harmed.

You may or may not agree with this approach.  So here is your chance to take a look at the proposed legislation and weigh-in on it before any decisions are made.  What follows is an invitation from RDOS planner Chris Garrish:

In 2013, the Regional District Board resolved to use Keeping Nature in our Future (the biodiversity strategy completed by the South Okanagan-Similkameen Conservation Program) as the basis for an update to its Environmentally Sensitive Development Permit (ESDP) Areas in the Okanagan Valley Electoral Area Official Community Bylaw (OCP) Bylaws.  ESDPs are used to minimize the impact of development in specified areas and must be obtained prior to construction, subdivision or disturbing the land.  Electoral Area “F” has not previously designated any lands as “environmentally sensitive” under its OCP Bylaw, so the Update proposes the introduction of a whole the section to the OCP as well as a new map showing environmentally sensitive areas.  A public information meeting is scheduled for Wednesday December 2nd from 6-8pm at West Bench Elementary School (1604 West Bench Drive), while additional information can be found on the Regional District’s web-site: ESDP Area Update.

A map of the impacted areas:

For those who want a more interactive and precise view, there is also a .kmz file for use with Google Earth showing the same information:



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