Christina Lake wants riparian zones to be protected

Christina Lake is looking at adopting a riparian plan that would see lakefront properties going more natural. The plan has been in the sight of RDKB Area C Director Grace McGregor for the past three years.

Mark Andison

Christina Lake is looking into adopting a riparian plan that would see lakefront properties go more natural by adding riparian buffers to new lakeshore development.

The plan is one that has been in the sight of Grace McGregor, director of Area C, for the past three years.

“We’re trying to get people to voluntarily buy in to keeping the lake cleaner,” McGregor said. “This is one way we can do it without totally throwing the book at everybody all at once.”

McGregor want to make sure that the concept is well understood by residents before they are asked to vote on the plan.

If adopted, the plan would make a mandatory riparian zone on the beachfront, a size that would be determined by property size. The buffer zone would be 75 per cent natural growth, but give 25 per cent of that zone to the property owner to access the beach.

The new plan would only affect new houses and properties.

“Nobody’s going to go out to your existing homes right now and say ‘you have this, this and this and we want you to tear this out and do something different,’” she said, adding that there are already people out there asking which plants they should plant and what they can do to help the lake.

Mark Andison, director of planning at the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB), presented the plan to residents at the meeting and said that though the province hasn’t mandated a riparian plan yet, it may in the near future.

Andison said that compared to what the province would bring to the table, the RDKB plan is likely a much gentler progression. For one thing, the plan would only affect new projects and then only if the building’s footprint – the space it occupies – changes.

Andison said that in the case that a deck rots away and need to be replaced, as long as the footprint stays the same, the riparian plan wouldn’t affect properties.

It would only come into effect with new properties, as well as with those upgrading their cabins to build new houses.

He said the riparian buffer zone would provide cover and habitat for animals both in and out of the water and make for a more natural water-land zone. This in turn would create a healthier atmosphere for the lake itself, because it would slow erosion and other things.

“It filters the nutrients, chemicals and sediments from washing into the lake, both at the surface level and subsurface level,” Andison said. “The riparian natural vegetation adjacent to the lake or creek helps to take that (chemicals, nutrients) and filter it from the lake.”