The Cowichan Valley Regional District approved the construction of a home on 3.5-metre tall stilts in the community of Honeymoon Bay.
The plans came before the Electoral Area Services Committee members during their Tuesday, April 19, meeting, because the entire property is within the 200 year flood plain.
The property’s access, Walton Road, is only at 164.05 metres, while the 200 year flood plain is at 167.3 metres.
The high water mark is 164 metres, and no fill is allowed below the 200 year flood plain.
Taking into account the stilts it would take to bring the base of the house to the 200-year flood plain, the proposed building is also .39 metres above the 10-metre maximum height allowance its Suburban Residential 2 Zoning allows.
“This is problematic,” Cowichan Lake South/Skutz Falls area director Ian Morrison said. “We’re being asked to build a house below the high water mark.”
Morrison said that his main concern is setting a precedence, as many property owners in the area could very well have similar requests.
But, he added, what makes this instance unique is that there are existing structures already on the property, at an elevation below the high water mark.
“I see this as an improvement upon what’s there,” he said.
“I think we’re doing what we can to make this a better property on the lake,” the property’s applicant said.
As for setting a precedence, each application to work outside of zoning and environmental regulations will need to come before the CVRD, with the board members deciding on each unique case.
The committee members’ discussion around the property quickly focused on its septic system, which initial plans place its top at the 164 metre mark, close to Walton Road, where the elevation is the highest.
“It’s almost a joke,” Youbou/Meade Creek area director Klaus Kuhn said, of the proposal to disregard riparian regulations. “This flies in the face against all our efforts to combat infringement.”
“Yes, it will flood a bit, but it’ll be better than it was,” Saltair/Gulf Islands area director Mel Dorey said.
With a friendly amendment that the entire Vancouver Island Health Authority-approved septic system be installed above the 164-metre mark, the application was approved.
Kuhn and Shawnigan Lake representative Ken Cossey voted against the motion.
Other recommendations that stick out include:
• There’s to be no storage of fuel on the property.
• Measures are to be taken to improve fish habitat along the natural shoreline, including planting of native shrubs and soft bioengineering.