Lantzville introduces low-impact development bylaw
Posted December 2005
The District of Lantzville is one of B.C.’s newest municipalities and the first incorporation of the new millennium. A key task is to develop its own policies and, in particular, establish standards for anticipated development. As a coastal community in a semi-rural setting, but also in a growing region, it is important to the community of Lantzville to ensure that future growth adheres to strong environmental standards. Furthermore, Lantzville wanted to mitigate the challenge of maintaining and replacing aging and expensive infrastructure in the future.
Recently, progressive civil engineers, planners, landscape architects, and hydrologists have touted the merits of low-impact development (LID) as a means to address:
- the rising costs of land development;
- the need to reduce our impact on the environment; and
- the cost to municipalities to maintain and replace infrastructure of a grand scale.
This led Lantzville to the conclusion that there would be value in developing a low-impact approach to development standards that could be applied not only in Lantzville, but also in other communities in B.C. and beyond.
Lantzville took a lead role in approaching the Ministry of Community Services seeking an agreement (under the Ministry’s Smart Development Partnerships Initiative) to develop a model bylaw that was not only applicable to Lantzville, but also for use by other communities.
Staff (including engineering experts) from the Town of Qualicum Beach, the Town of Gibsons, and the Village of Cumberland participated in the process. Lantzville also sought the advice of ministry staff and other leaders in the field of LID to ensure the bylaw and standards reflected the most progressive thinking. Through the application of low-impact design principles, Lantzville worked with its partners to draft the subdivision and development standards and specifications model bylaw, guided by the following goals:
1. Adopt standard practices (MMCD) that are widely accepted by the development industry for infrastructure that is not impacted by LID.
2. Adopt site-adaptive, LID standards for roads to:
- reduce the amount of impervious surfaces;
- reduce costs to the developer for road construction;
- reduce costs to the municipality to maintain roads;
- increase the amount of land available for development through the reduction in road right of way width;
- appeal to the small-town character through the development of narrower roads; and
- reduce traffic speed by visually reducing the road corridor.
3. Adopt site-adaptive, LID standards for stormwater management to:
- minimize or eliminate an increase in the exportation of stormwater runoff of a developed site;
- use processes that encourage the introduction of stormwater back into the ground;
- reduce or eliminate the “flash-flood” effects of a storm event on our creeks through stormwater retention techniques;
- take advantage of natural wetlands to clean stormwater and settle out suspended deleterious materials;
- use shallow vegetated swales to capture stormwater run-off from roads, to reintroduce stormwater into the ground, and to direct storm water flows through to their natural corridors;
- minimize the use of complex underground piped systems that redirect storm water into fish bearing streams and down to Lantzville beaches;
- reduce the cost to the developer by providing alternatives to an underground piped stormwater system;
- reduce the long-term cost to Lantzville to replace the underground stormwater system when it reaches the end of its useful life;
- provide wildlife habitat and natural park-like settings in areas where engineered wetlands are created to retain and settle stormwater; and
- provide a less urban appearance to the community.
4. Provide alternatives to impervious surfaces for parking lots, sidewalks, and multi-use paths.
The wide application of this model bylaw will generate the following positive outcomes:
LID reduces the intensity of infrastructure.
By adopting standards and specifications that impose LID, small communities are able to retain, promote, and support distinctive, attractive communities with a strong sense of place.
Development pressures on communities are high. With these development levels it is easy to overlook the impact on the environment, particularly stormwater management and the effects on our watersheds. LID provides a means of developing while limiting long-term adverse effects to our watersheds. LID will provide an economically sustainable alternative.
Healthy and Safe Communities
One of Lantzville’s greatest concerns (shared by other communities in similar circumstances) is the impact of development on its fragile aquifer. In a more traditional model, we would see stormwater gathered from impervious surfaces to a stormwater system that would ultimately export that stormwater to our beaches of Georgia Strait. The entire District of Lantzville is essentially our aquifer’s “recharge” area, so it is vital that we use LID to introduce stormwater back into the ground in the area in which it fell. LID not only reduces impervious surfaces but it minimizes or eliminates an increase in the exportation of stormwater run off.