LAKEFRONT EROSION CONTROL
Owning waterfront makes you a steward of the riparian area along the lakeside of your property. The Ministry of Land, Water, and Resource Stewardship recommends that landowners follow a step-wise decision making process in determining whether erosion protection is actually necessary and what type of protection is best:
- Have a qualified professional engineer/geomorphologist/etc assess the site to determine whether work is necessary to protect buildings from erosion. Shoreline erosion and accretion are natural processes so just because some erosion is occurring does not always mean there is a high risk to people and buildings. If the answer is, yes, I need to protect my property, then the next step is to determine what form that protection should take.
First consider a soft approach to stabilize your shore. Rip-rap, concrete, or other hard materials are only to be used as a last resort where a qualified engineer/geomorphologist/etc demonstrates that no soft approach will work.
Many technical resources on soft shoreline stabilization exist, as examples:
https://www.islandcountywa.gov/Health/DNR/Documents/Soft%20Shore%20Stabilization_ECY.pdf (This pdf is geared around marine shorelines, but it is very thorough and the same principles apply to freshwater shorelines)
The Stewardship Centre for BC runs a Green Shores Program with many online resources, training opportunities, webinars, etc.
- If there is credible and likely threat of damage to a building or other infrastructure on the property AND a wall or revetment is the only possible option according to the qualified professional, we look for it to be set back from the shoreline as far as possible and leave the natural shoreline undisturbed wherever possible. When the Riparian Areas Protection Act applies, any repairs to existing hard structures must be limited to the existing structure (that is, the footprint cannot be expanded).
- Regardless of the type of shoreline erosion approach used, we look for landowners to maximize benefits to the environment by planting native trees and shrubs wherever possible to provide shade and food to aquatic wildlife and to stabilize the banks. Regulators will look far more favorably on a plan that will increase rather than decrease benefits to the environment.
Most landowners’ shorelines are unstable because the riparian vegetation (that is, the vegetation that grows immediately adjacent to a stream, lake, wetland) was removed historically, which is no longer allowed under the Riparian Areas Protection Act because of the impacts this has on aquatic ecosystems and the species they support. Many times, the simplest and cheapest way to stabilize a low gradient shoreline is by replanting trees and deep-rooting native shrubs.
Note that any shoreline stabilization work (except for planting trees and shrubs) around Shawnigan Lake requires approval under the BC Water Sustainability Act and under the Riparian Areas Protection Act and possibly under the federal Fisheries Act. It is best to hire a Registered Professional Biologist who can guide you through these regulatory steps. If landowners have more questions about the permitting process, they can contact FrontCounter BC (1-877-855-3222).