Fish and Wildlife

Summary and Recommendations

A review of the environmental considerations of the Galloway Lands was undertaken by Cascade Environmental Resource Group. This review focused on response to letters and presentations submitted to the RDEK by local groups.

On May 6th Handshake Holding announced the following news on connecting to a wastewater collection and treatment facility, see the details here:

The general findings of the work completed by Cascade Environmental Resource Group found the following:

  • The setbacks proposed from Lizard Creek exceed the requirements of the RDEK Floodplain bylaw and the Riparian Areas Protection Regulation.(1)  The riparian corridor proposed for protection along Lizard Creek will ensure the integrity of this area.
  • The risk to westslope cutthroat trout is very low due to the large setbacks provided from Lizard Creek and the retention of greenspace along the creek. The setbacks provided on site are, as noted above, in excess of that required by the Riparian Areas Protection Regulation.
  • The risk to water quality due to development of the lands is minimal. The Galloway Lands will further reduce this low risk by implementing the requirements of Develop with Care 2014: Environmental Guidelines for Urban and Rural Land Development in British Columbia.
  • All land use, whether land development, mining, railways, forestry, or agriculture, has some form of cumulative effect on the natural environment. The plan developed for the Galloway Lands has been prepared to minimize any cumulative effect impact. The Galloway Lands represent an additional 0.01% of built-up area within the Elk Valley. This is considered to be minmal. Continued steps will be taken by the proponent where possible to minimize all impacts.
  • Grizzly bear telemetry data indicate that bears utilize the property. However, the data indicates that grizzly bears cross through the property less often that surrounding areas. Movement to the Provincial Park occurs mostly from Orca peak, southwest of the Galloway Lands, and the Mount Fernie area, north of the Galloway Lands.
  • Impact on Mount Fernie Provincial Park is believed to be inconsequential. A buffer of 100m will be provided to the nearest residential lot. BC Parks does not have a standard for buffers to provincial parks, but the distance provided for the Galloway Lands exceeds the recommendations of other jurisdictions.

The proponent believes that development of the lands can occur in accordance with the Elk Valley Official Community Plan and good planning practices while avoiding negative impact on wildlife and surrounding land uses.

Note (1): The Riparian Areas Protection Regulation is referenced within this document because it was suggested as the minimum standard for the lands by some local special interest groups. However, the Riparian Areas Protection Regulation is not applicable within the Regional District of East Kootenay. This regulation is in effect in only select regions of British Columbia.  

Questions and Answers

We have committed to answering all the questions submitted to us. Some of the questions submitted are very similar in substance. We have aggregated those questions and provided the answers in the summary below.

There are several references throughout this document to the use of covenants to enforce setback, guidelines and behaviour on the Galloway Lands. The Question and Answer document titled “Conservancy” addresses the implementation and use of these covenants in greater detail. The use of zoning, covenants and guidelines come together to make this development a sustainable reality, consistent with the goals of Conservation Development; that topic is the subject of the Conservancy discussion we will publish shortly.

1. What measures are being taken to protect wildlife?

Development of the Galloway Lands includes a commitment to protect over 70% of the property in a natural state. We are also proposing covenants that will limit any attractants to wildlife (ie. compost, garbage, fruit trees) and restrict fencing that will limit movement of wildlife.

2. What about the animals that call the land home? Please share specific details about how you will mitigate impacts to the wildlife in the region and the corridor itself, as the corridor is a proven route for Moose, Grizzly bears, etc.

Our environmental consultant, Cascade Environmental Resource Group, has reviewed a wide range of available studies and other literature related to wildlife use of the Lizard Creek area.

Based on their review, we believe that any impact to wildlife will be minimal and can be mitigated within the current design of the Galloway Lands. Further details are provided in the following questions.

3. How will Lizard Creek be protected?

We recognize the importance of the Lizard Creek corridor for wildlife and fish. The proposed development plan includes large setbacks and other measures to ensure that this corridor in not impacted.

We have identified a corridor along Lizard Creek that will be zoned as ‘Park and Recreation Zone’ (PG-2). This corridor extends the length of Lizard Creek to ensure that the riparian corridor and the integrity of riparian ecosystems are protected in perpetuity.

No development, including roads, trails, or other amenities, is proposed within the Lizard Creek corridor (except for the existing Nordic ski trail and bridge). To ensure this commitment we are proposing a no disturbance covenant over the Lizard Creek corridor that restricts tree removal, new trails or other development, except for road construction as required by MOTI. For the purposes of this covenant, the Lizard Creek Corridor refers to the area of PG-2 land within 50 metres of the normal high-water mark of Lizard Creek.

Together, the zoning and covenants proposed for the Galloway Lands will ensure long-term protection of the Lizard Creek and form the final link in a connectivity corridor that extends from the Elk River to Island Lake Lodge. The corridor along Lizard Creek is approximately 230 metres in width at its narrowest location through the Galloway Lands to almost 400 metres in width at the north part of the Galloway property.

During development of the homesites, best practices will be implemented and enforced through covenant to ensure that no sediment or construction waste impacts Lizard Creek or other riparian areas.

4. Westslope cutthroat trout are blue-listed in BC. How will this species be protected?

The setbacks proposed from Lizard Creek exceed those prescribed in the Elk Valley Zoning Bylaw and by the Riparian Areas Protection Regulation (see Question 5 for more description of RAPR). These setbacks, together with Best Management Practices for erosion and sediment control, will mitigate any impact on aquatic species within Lizard Creek.

5. The Riparian Areas Regulation should be considered as the minimum standard for protection of Lizard Creek. What is being provided to ensure protection of this watercourse?

The Riparian Areas Protection Regulation (RAPR) was enacted under Section 12 of what is now the Riparian Areas Protection Act. The RAPR calls on local governments to protect riparian areas during residential, commercial, and industrial development by ensuring that a Qualified Environmental Professional (QEP) conducts a science-based assessment of proposed activities. The purpose of the regulation is to protect the many and varied features, functions and conditions that are vital for maintaining stream health and productivity, including:

  • Sources of large organic debris, such as fallen trees and tree roots;
  • Areas for stream channel migration;
  • Vegetative cover to help moderate water temperature;
  • Provision of food, nutrients and organic matter to the stream;
  • Stream bank stabilization; and
  • Buffers for streams from excessive silt and surface run-off pollution.

The Riparian Areas Protection Regulation is applicable only in certain areas of the province. It is not applicable in the Regional District of East Kootenay.

Under RAPR, the Riparian Assessment Area is 30 metres on either side of a stream if the bank slopes are less than 3:1. If the bank slopes are greater than 3:1 the stream is defined as occurring within a ravine. Based on these parameters differing setback requirements must be met.

The setbacks proposed for Lizard Creek within the Galloway Lands exceed the requirements of the Riparian Areas Protection Regulation. Under RAPR a QEP report is not required for work outside of the Riparian Assessment Area.

6. What does top of bank to top of bank protection of Lizard Creek mean?

Top of bank is defined in the Riparian Areas Protection Regulation as:

  1. The point closest to the boundary of the active floodplain of a stream where a break in the slope of the land occurs such that the grade beyond the break is flatter than 3:1 at any point for a minimum distance of 15 metres measured perpendicularly from the break, and
  2. For a floodplain area not considered within a ravine, the edge of the active floodplain of a stream where the slope of the land beyond the edge is flatter than 3:1 at any point for a minimum distance of 15 metres measured perpendicularly from the edge.

Although the Riparian Areas Protection Regulation does not apply within the Regional District of East Kootenay, the proponent has committed to protection of Lizard Creek beyond the requirements of the Riparian Areas Protection Regulation.

7. Is the goal to not have a through corridor for wildlife to Lizard Creek, and push them towards the Provincial Park?

The Lizard Creek corridor is being retained in its current form and will be protected from any development. The Lizard Creek corridor functions as a wildlife corridor between the Elk River and Mt. Fernie Provincial Park and lands beyond.

8. I have not seen a wildlife corridor through this property to Lizard Creek, is that on purpose to push the wildlife towards the provincial park?

The Lizard Creek corridor is being retained in its current form and will be protected from any development. The Lizard Creek corridor functions as a wildlife corridor between the Elk River and Mt. Fernie Provincial Park and lands beyond. Additional smaller passages are provided for wildlife within the plan. With over 70% of the site is protected from development, and with a restriction on fencing of private lots, there will remain numerous corridors for wildlife to transit through the property.

9. Your road network shows 3 crossings of riparian areas and tributaries of Lizard Creek, yet avoids crossing Lizard Creek. Why are these smaller crossings feasible and do not impact these riparian areas?

The Lizard Creek corridor has more pronounced topography and is a more significant watercourse than the ancillary creeks that feed into it. These smaller creeks are easily crossed with clear-span bridges that do not impact these watercourses. The installation of new clear-span bridges will result in the removal of culverts currently across these creeks and improve the aquatic habitat at these crossing locations.

10. Should there be a fund for clean-up should Lizard Creek be affected by the Development or the increase in population living in the area?

We are proposing that the Lizard Creek corridor is protected by covenant. This covenant would restrict any trail or other development along Lizard Creek. As such, we do not foresee any negative impact to the Lizard Creek corridor because of this development.

We believe that the potential for disturbance of Lizard Creek is very low through the Galloway Lands. Through the adjacent Island Lake Lodge property, intensive resort residential multi-family development and resort light industrial development are permitted within approximately 30 metres of Lizard Creek. Within Mt. Fernie Provincial Park, the Island Lake access road parallels Lizard Creek for approximately 700 metres and an overnight camping area abuts to the creek.

We are proposing significant setbacks from the creek that will ensure long-term protection of this section of Lizard Creek to a higher standard than through either Mt. Fernie Provincial Park or the Island Lake Lodge property.

Regardless, we are proposing that the sale of all lots and homes within the lands generates a fee paid to the Galloway Lands Recreation Fund. This fund will provide financial assistance for conservation and environmental stewardship efforts within the Galloway Lands as well as trail maintenance. This Fund will be administered by a newly formed legal entity such as a not-for-profit Society registered in BC. Should maintenance of the Lizard Creek corridor be required this entity would have sufficient funding to undertake such work.

11. Is there any consideration for a wildlife corridor? I live near the Stanford Inn and am direct witness to many bears crossing the valley right in this proposed development area.

The Lizard Creek corridor is being retained as a wildlife corridor between the Elk River and Mt. Fernie Provincial Park and to lands beyond. Our environmental consultant, Cascade Environmental Resource Group, has reviewed grizzly bear use of the Galloway property and surrounding lands. Cascade Environmental Resource Group has found that grizzly bear telemetry data indicates that some grizzly bears use the Galloway Lands to gain access to the Provincial Park. However, movement to the Provincial Park occurs mostly from Orca Peak southwest of the Galloway Lands and the Mount Fernie area north of the Galloway Lands. Based on the telemetry data grizzly bears pass through the Galloway Lands less often than surrounding areas and they do not use the Provincial Park habitat extensively.  

12. Will the Environmental impact statement incorporate the negative impact to the areas “Old Growth” forest within and adjacent to the subject Galloway Development?

The area identified as “Old Growth Forest” will be retained in its current state. No development is proposed in this area. Previous logging operations appear to have avoided this area and prior to any residential development, the extent of old growth forest will be confirmed to ensure that there is no impact on any old growth within the property.

13. Will environmental impact assessments be made available?

We are undertaking an assessment of wildlife and environmental considerations for the development. This is not a formal Environmental Impact Assessment. The results of our assessment will be submitted to the RDEK and will be part of the application package.

14. Why is this 100-metre corridor width not being maintained between all Galloway Properties adjacent to Highline Drive including lots 1 and 2.

The greenspace corridor proposed varies based on site conditions and features. The location of Boardman Creek adjacent to the south boundary of the property is the primary determination of the buffer provided.

15. In order to ensure the wooded areas of the private properties are protected, why not reduce the size of the lots to 1.5 acres and move the rest of the wooded land over to common land/park.

The minimum parcel area required is based on the proposed zoning and provision of onsite wells and septic fields. We believe that the covenants being implemented will ensure protection of the lands, regardless of ownership.

16. Is the 110m buffer to the Park final footprint? Does it include any construction footprint buffer?

The buffer proposed to the Provincial Park is 100 metres from the rear property line of the nearest lot. An additional 30 metre buffer is proposed within the lot to any building area. The proposed zoning will ensure that this buffer is maintained.

17. Will private fencing be permitted on lots? (wildlife stressor and entrapment)

Fencing on private lots will be regulated by the Architectural Controls Guidelines that will be registered against the lots through the covenants. That document is part of what will be required prior to subdivision and fencing will not be permitted if it would impact the ability of wildlife to utilize the Lands. Small areas of fencing may be permitted – such as around a small vegetable garden or around a dog-run.

18. I forget the environmental consultant working on the project. Did they field verify what is stated in the OCP?

Cascade Environmental Resource Group has not field verified the findings of the OCP. However, they have concluded, based on review of available literature, that there is limited grizzly bear use of the property (see Question 11) and that other species use of the property is similarly limited.

19. Sorry – but garbage management is a big problem at the Stanford area.  Out of towners constantly dump garbage near overflowing bins and race out of town. Whatever is allocated for dumpers, double it to prevent wildlife interference. Or put a condition in HOA to require garbage pick-up twice per week.  Especially during busy holidays.

We anticipate that a private garbage and recycling collection facility may be included within the project. If so, this use will be enclosed within a building and available to residents and guests only.  

20. Will fertilizers and other weed treatments be permitted on the private lot lawns?

The RDEK permit use of fertilizer and weed treatments on private property. We will abide by RDEK regulations. 

21. Why are you asking for a bylaw change/rezoning now when you have not yet completed a thorough wildlife impact study?

See response to Question 22.

22. Why are you asking for a bylaw change/rezoning now when you have not yet completed a thorough Environmental Impact Assessment?

An Environmental Impact Assessment is not required by the RDEK as a condition of zoning approval. The RDEK Elk Valley OCP does not identify any environmentally sensitive areas within that portion of the property proposed for residential development. The planning prepared for the property has been completed in strict accordance with the requirements of the OCP.

The applicant has engaged Cascade Environmental Resource Group and Cascade has completed an overview of a wide range of environmental studies and legislation that will guide development of the property. Cascade’s findings will be submitted to the RDEK as part of the application for land use approval.

Questions and Answers

Conservancy

Read the Summary and Recommendations and Questions and Answers here…

Fire Safety

Read the Summary and Recommendations, and Questions and Answers here…