The Gabriola OCP (1997) doesn’t specifically address the need to actively sustain, protect or encourage biodiversity. It does state that:
“This Plan attempts to preserve the unique environment of the Gabriola Planning Area for future generations through its established goals, which speak to the protection of the natural environment and its sensitive ecosystems…” and that “future land use and development decisions must consider the anticipated impacts of proposed development on the environment and community resources.” (s.2.0.m)
The OCP’s environmental goals (s.1.3) are:
- To preserve the unique natural environment of land, water and air and the life it supports.
- To preserve the natural beauty of the Gabriola Planning Area and recognize that areas of sensitivity or unique value require special protective measures.
- To encourage the removal of existing sources of pollution and discourage activities or projects inside or outside the Gabriola Planning Area, which would reduce the health, quiet, natural and aesthetic values of the Area.
- To encourage only the selective and careful use of renewable natural resources in ways consistent with the goals and policies of the Plan.
- To recognize the provincial and national significance of the unique social and physical diversities of the Plan Area.
- To encourage good stewardship practices and the voluntary placement of land under protective covenants.
- To reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for the impacts of climate change.
The OCP also includes several objectives and policies that have general application to the natural environment:
2.0 General Land Use Objectives:
2.2 To promote the preservation of land that has social, environmental and cultural significance;
2.3. To ensure development is undertaken in a manner which minimizes negative community and environmental impact.
* These objectives speak to preservation and minimization of impact. We’d like to hear from you on whether these objectives are enough to address protection of the natural environment and biodiversity.
4.2 Parks and Outdoor Recreation Objectives:
4.2.2. To acquire parkland that is representative of the bioregion (i.e. wetlands, first growth forest);
4.2 e) A community trails network shall be encouraged to be established incorporating existing public trails. Effort should be made to maintain the contiguous nature of existing, established traditional trails. Such initiative is subject to the consent of the private property owners affected and the provision of appropriate signage being provided to indicate where a trail crosses private property.
5.2 Forestry Objectives:
5.2.1) To preserve large contiguous areas of forested land;
5.2.2) To support forestry practices which are compatible with and complementary to the values of conservation and sustainability;
5.2.3) To support timber production while retaining the environmental and recreational values of forested land;
5.2.4) To protect the groundwater resource and recharge areas; and
5.2.5) To encourage the use of forested land for purposes of recreation, wildlife habitat and maintaining the island’s biological diversity.
6.1 Environmentally Sensitive Area Objectives
6.1.1. To ensure the protection of environmentally sensitive areas on Gabriola;
6.1.2. To protect important habitat and water resources areas through vegetation retention and building setbacks;
6.1.3. To encourage retention of the natural tree cover along the shoreline and to discourage tree removal to minimal selective cutting; and
6.1.4. To encourage owners of property which is environmentally sensitive to work co-operatively with conservation-based groups in defining means of providing for the protection of important sites; and
6.1.5. To consider the goals and objectives of the Regional Conservation Plan when making land-use decisions.
* These objectives speak to the importance of protecting environmentally sensitive areas. We’d like to hear from you on how private property owners can protect environmentally sensitive areas.
6.1 Environmentally Sensitive Area Policies
6.1a) Development within environmentally sensitive areas may be regulated through the use of development permits. (Note more information on Development Permit Areas on the following page.)
6.1b) With respect to an area identified as being environmentally sensitive, the registration of a natural state or environmental covenant and/or the use of a development permit shall be required as a condition of rezoning so as to ensure the long term protection of environmental features.
6.1c) Voluntary covenants or easements to protect natural features and donation or sale of sensitive areas to a conservation agency shall be encouraged.
6.1d) In order to protect area watercourses, rezoning adjacent to a watercourse shall be conditional upon the establishment of a protective setback area. The Ministry of Environment – Federal Fisheries report titled: Stream Stewardship – A Guide for Planners & Developers and Land Development Guidelines for the Aquatic Habitat shall be used as a guideline in determining how land is to be developed adjacent a watercourse (including a lake and wetland).
6.1e) To protect against hazardous conditions and to protect environmentally sensitive areas a setback shall apply from the high water mark of the sea. In the case where a bluff or large land ridge is the prominent upland feature adjacent the sea, a setback from the upper edge of the bluff or ridge shall be applicable.
6.1f) The sandstone and conglomerate banks along Gabriola’s shoreline shall be protected against the accelerated effects of erosion resulting from human activity by requiring the setback of buildings or structures and control of storm water runoff.
6.1g) Trees bearing the nests of great blue heron, bald eagle, osprey and other raptors shall not be cut in accordance with provincial legislation. The zoning bylaw shall set standards and regulate the provision of screening for preserving and protecting trees bearing such nests. Such condition shall be applicable with respect to the rezoning of any site containing such a feature.
6.1h) Fresh water features which have special biological significance to the local environment, such as Hoggan Lake, shall be protected through zoning and shall be designated as a development permit area.
6.1i) So as to ensure the Island’s environmental resource sites are protected, owners (and potential developers) of property located within an environmental sensitive area shall be encouraged to work with recognized conservancy organizations early on in the development process to ensure steps are taken to protect the environmentally sensitive site.
6.2 Marine Resources Objectives
6.2.1. To manage coastal marine resources in keeping with the Islands Trust preserve and protect mandate;
6.2.2. To preserve and protect unique, rare, or representative marine plant and animal communities in their natural habitats;
6.2.3. To protect the natural and scenic values of the coastline which provide the Island with its rural marine character;
Policy 6.2.c) A marine protection zone shall also be established in the zoning bylaw for the protection of significant marine and foreshore areas. The Gabriola Pass Marine Protection Area and foreshore waters in the vicinity of the Flat Top Islands shall be zoned marine protection.
7.1 Land Transportation Policies
f) New roads, and modifications to existing roads, should not fragment agricultural land or environmentally sensitive areas, such as wetlands.
8. Climate Change Adaptation and Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Policies
8b) The Local Trust Committee should consider the development of new criteria for assessing official community plan or land use bylaw amendment applications from the perspective of climate change adaptation and greenhouse gas emission reduction.
8c) The Local Trust Committee should consider new development permit area guidelines that promote low impact land uses, alternative transportation, energy conservation, water conservation, and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
8h) The Local Trust Committee should consider amending the Land Use Bylaw to measure the footprint of buildings and structures from the interior walls instead of the outer perimeter of the foundation of the building, so increased insulation is encouraged.
8e) The Local Trust Committee should identify significant unfragmented forest ecosystems within the planning area and ensure that these areas are noted on mapping both for their environmental values as well as carbon sequestration areas.
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