Sea Level Rise – It’s Official

Well I just spent 30 minutes reading the recently released update of the Province’s regulations on flood plain management.  I have 2 projects currently in the early design stages that will be impacted by flood plains and I wanted to stay abreast of the requirements.  And what an eye opener it was!  Here are some of the specifics and I will cut right to the big highlights.

Sea Level Rise is happening and in a significant way.  All new buildings, subdivisions and re-zonings should be designed to accommodate Sea Level Rise (SLR) to the year 2100.  Official Community Plans (OCPs) and Regioal Growth Strategies (RGSs) should allow for SLR to the year 2200 and beyond.  This is the provonce directive to all local authorities having jurisdiction, ie. Courtenay, Comox, CVRD, etc.  Now here is the kicker!  “Allow for 0.5 metres of SLR by 2050, 1.0 metres of SLR by 2100, and 2.0 metres by 2200.  2.0 metres folks!  That is 6 1/2 feet for those of you old school with old tape measures.  Any of you currently own waterfront property that won’t be around next century?  This has a significant consequence to risk associated with development approvals and the regulations clearly warn municipalities of the potential consequences.  There is plenty of language in the document about getting suitably qualified Professional Engineers experienced in coastal engineering for just about everything.  Even so, covenants will be required on title of every affected property that states that “any reconstruction must meet the the Flood Construction Level (FCL) and setbacks requirements in force at the time of redevelopment.”  Speaking of setbacks, all exposed bluff properties defined in the regs as steep will require setbacks equal to or greater than 3 times the height of the bluffs.  Not good if you were looking to develop a new place in any of the recently approved subdivisions on the any of the bluffs in the Comox Valley.  The last few pages of the document discuss the requirements of a municipality undertaking a flood plain protection strategy in areas subject to flooding from any source but especialliy SLR.  Studies galore, and reports by suitably qualified … and most importantly, long range plans for financially supporting these strategies over the longterm, ie.  forever, as these conditions are going to get much worse before they ever get better.

If you had any doubts that any of this was actually happening, this Provincial Government ammendment to their 1994 document should put them to rest.  ANd even if you want to keep disbelieving, be warned that the development regulations from October have been changed and no amount of denial will make them go away.