North Saanich council is moving with plans to develop stricter policies on permitting and placing of structures including buoys and moorings as part of the upcoming Official Community Plan review. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

North Saanich floats tougher policies for buoys and moorings near Tsehum Harbour

Municipality also considers additional collaboration with Sidney and other communities

Boaters can anticipate tougher rules on mooring and placing buoys in waters off Tsehum Harbour.

This direction emerged after North Saanich councillors meeting as a committee-of-the-whole asked staff to develop stricter policies on permitting and placing of structures as part of the upcoming Official Community Plan review.

“There are a range of preservation, protection and restoration policies that could be considered through the OCP review including policies that relate to moorage such as restrictions on certain types of moorage and restrictions on the placement of buoys and moored vessels,” said Rebecca Penz, North Saanich’s communication manager, when asked for additional details about the direction to staff.

Councillors also asked staff to look into developing designation specifically for Tsehum Harbour and the inclusion of a special Development Permit Area. These directions emerged after councillors considered a detailed report about the future of the area.

RELATED: North Saanich council looks to navigate future of Tsehum Harbour

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It described five broad possible roles for the District in shaping the area. The plans described above fall into the category of using North Saanich’s upcoming OCP review to improve management of the area following growing concerns about abandoned and derelict boats, as well as moorage issues.

A staff report says the current OCP lacks policies that address moorings or live-aboards. The current zoning bylaw permits the placement of mooring buoys as long as they comply with federal regulations. The same report adds that most, but not all, mooring buoys comply.

Councillors also directed staff to continue working with neighbouring Sidney about the feasibility of developing an integrated management plan, while also exploring the possibility of joining the Capital Regional District’s Harbour Program, a regional program designed to leverage regional and collaboration resources around marine and foreshore issues.

While the regulation of navigation and shipping falls exclusively within federal jurisdiction, court cases have confirmed that municipalities may regulate through zoning land use covered by navigable water.

Specifically, the Community Charter gives municipalities the authority to regulate land covered by water up to 300 metres from the high water mark of municipal boundaries. The incorporation patent of North Saanich confirms that it includes the land covered by water to 300 metres from the high water mark.


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