What does a hectare look like?

  • Posted on: 14 October 2016
  • By: Michael Brydon

I have had some questions about the "one hectare rule", which was enacted sometime around 2010 at the insistence of the Province of BC. The rationale behind the rule was an increase in septic system failures in residential neighborhoods.  The problem is especially dangerous/expensive for properties located near lakes and other sources of drinking water.  We face a slightly different problem on the West Bench: silty and unstable soils.  Indeed, we just about lost a front end loader in a sinkhole while doing work in Mariposa Park.

 At bottom, the rule means that the minimum parcel sizes specified in the zoning bylaws are subject to "servicing requirements" (basically sewer and adequate water).  Lots without sewer require a septic system and the minimum parcel size for a conventional septic system is now 1 Ha (or about 2.5 acres).

This is a big change.  To see what I mean, consider the application of the 1 Ha rule to Phase 2 of the Westwood Properties subdivision (the last major subdivision in Area F circa 2000):

The area outlined in blue--which includes eight of my neighbors--is slightly less than a hectare.  Under current rules a developer would be able to put exactly one dwelling on this residential block.  The one hectare rule changes the economics of development significantly.

My conclusion: subdivision/densification and growth on the greater West Bench is impossible without sewer.