The Summer Village of Birchcliff has invited public comment on its review of several clauses of its land use bylaw that control the size of structures and impermeable surfaces on private property. The SLWSS provided the following recommendations on the specific and more general aspects of land use regulation on October 13:
COMMENTS ON BIRCHCLIFF LAND USE BYLAW – AMENDMENT BYLAW #199/17
Limitation on the Impermeable Surface Footprint and Water Balance Management
Several Amendment clauses deal with arbitrary limits on the size of impermeable structures. From the stewardship perspective they require no compensation by the owner to maintain the natural water balance. That is, expansion of the area of buildings and of impervious paved surfaces that prevent infiltration of precipitation and alter surface flow of water is not offset by a requirement to ensure that those actions do not increase storm and surface water runoff into Sylvan Lake with its nutrient load and contamination.
Management of nutrient transfer into Sylvan Lake is an imperative. It has a high community economic penalty for neglect.
The Bylaw would benefit from adoption of best urban land use and stewardship practices that maintain the water balance on each property. Low Impact Development land use practices should be specified and included in applications for approval of land use changes.
Recommendations for Changes to Other Clauses in the master Bylaw 170/13.
When the remainder of Land Use Bylaw 170/13 is reviewed by the Birchcliff Council, the SLWSS notes that:
Several Land Use Bylaw Clauses have potential to reduce the impact of the Birchcliff Summer Village on Sylvan Lake, if effectively applied.
Alberta aerial surveys have shown that the Birchcliff shoreline is Moderately to Highly Impaired. The traditional approvals process has obviously not achieved the Summer Village and watershed community’s environmental and esthetic goals of conserving and protecting the Birchcliff lakeshore riparian zone and the onshore landscape.
An annual cumulative effects statement by the Birchcliff Summer Village on the effect of its municipally-regulated land use changes would help to record and demonstrate leadership on public accountability for any impacts on the Sylvan Lake watershed over time.