By ANDRIA SCANLAN
Prior to completing the purchase of our two-acre parcel of bare land on Channel Ridge last spring we confirmed with North Salt Spring Waterworks District that we would indeed be able to access water through a hook-up to the existing water line at the side of the road marked for the lot.
Not a problem, no moratorium, a thousand dollars later water on their side of our meter was flowing. We could indeed proceed with the purchase of the lot and make plans to build a new 1800-square-foot family home immediately.
The plans for Channel Ridge, including shared driveways and water and power utilities, were drawn in 1986. In this case, four properties would share a common driveway, which then split off at the closest point to access each lot. A shared “utility easement” strip along the side of the road, up the shared driveway and then splitting for each building site was also shown on the map. We concluded that regardless of the most direct route we would need to bring our utilities up the “shared driveway” at a much higher cost.
Little did we know that it would take several months and thousands of our hard-earned dollars in order to get permission from the Islands Trust to hand dig a trench from the meter box, along the side of the road, and then dig a trench up the shared driveway. We knew that a potential riparian zone existed on our property but we had no intention of touching it.
As it turned out, we were required to proceed with a development permit application, which included reports completed by surveyors and hydrologists, before being studied and reviewed by Trust planners who make a recommendation. The trustees then reviewed, read and discussed the issue at one of their monthly meetings before making a final decision. Eventually we got our building permit and permission to hook up to our side of the meter.
We thought that was the end of the matter until I received another request. My response to this request made by Trish Hooker of the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations in Nanaimo is below.
Dear Ms. Hooker:
Thank you for your inquiry regarding access to our property on Salt Spring Island, B.C. in order to conduct a random audit of our successful 2016 Development Permit and Riparian Area Regulation Assessment Reports.
We may be able to help you and the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations with this endeavour. The ministry will require a Random Audit Assessment Report Permit in order to “conduct the audit to assess the work of our qualified professionals.” The permit application cost is $1,020 and takes approximately eight to 10 weeks to process. As you are seeking approval for one or more of your auditors to access our property, an Auditor Access Fee will be necessary for each auditor at a cost of $400 per person. Proof of appropriate professional qualifications for survey and hydrology auditing will be required. Qualification review wilI take approximately four to six weeks and will require a fee of $400 per professional auditor.
As the purpose of the audit is to assess the “adequacy of streams and other measurements, we have divided our 2.25 acres into 75 equal survey units with a draw tag for each unit. Application fees to assess the current state of each unit are only $8 per unit.
If you are successful in the monthly draw, you will be notified two weeks in advance so you can make necessary plans and purchase your Report Assessment Audit stamp ($150 resident /$250 non-resident).
You will also need to obtain a Permit and Regulation Assessment Report Auditing parking permit ($10 per vehicle). You will also need an Invasive Species stamp ($15 for the first vehicle and $5 for each additional vehicle).
You will need to register at the check station to have your vehicle inspected for non-native plant life prior to entering our property. There is also a day use fee of $5 per vehicle.
Survey units open between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. but you cannot commence the survey until 9 a.m. and must cease all survey activity by 1 p.m.
Auditors should wear garments made of 100 per cent organic cotton and ensure that shoes, boots or flip-flops are made of BPA-free plastics. All auditor pockets will be subject for inspection before entering the site.
As you have requested the landowners to be on site while the audit is conducted you will require an Owners Loss of Fees and Wages Permit. Cost is $500 per landowner per day.
Please let us know if we can be of any further assistance to you.
The writer has had a recent experience with local government bureaucracy.