The Riparian Areas Regulation Model

The Riparian Areas Regulation (RAR) model uses Qualified Environmental Professionals (QEPs), hired by land developers, to

  • assess habitat and the potential impacts to habitat,
  • develop mitigation measures, and
  • avoid impacts from development to fish and fish habitat, particularly riparian habitat.

The cost of this assessment is the responsibility of the land developer, allowing governments to focus on monitoring and enforcement within their respective jurisdictions. By conscientiously following the assessment procedure set out in the Regulation, the QEP and the land developer will have applied due diligence in avoiding a harmful alteration, disruption or destruction (HADD) of riparian fish habitat. If these harms cannot be avoided, the developer must submit an application for an authorization to Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

The assessment methods are attached to the Regulation as a schedule. They are a key component of the regulatory regime for riparian protection that is clear and measurable, but does not rely exclusively on default setbacks. The assessment is based on the best available science with respect to riparian habitats.

The assessment methodology provides clear direction to QEPs on

  • how to assess impacts,
  • how to determine setbacks based on site conditions, and
  • the measures that need to be employed to maintain the integrity of the setbacks.

When submitting RAR assessments, QEPs must certify that they have the qualifications, experience and skills necessary to conduct the assessment. The assessment will form the content of notifications by development proponents to regulatory agencies. The Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations provides local governments with confirmation that an assessment report has been received. Local governments can then proceed with approving urban development without taking on the liability for reviewing and approving riparian setbacks.

To increase the QEP’s accountability and to allow compliance monitoring, the assessment methodology will yield outcomes that are measurable, repeatable, and independent of observer. The assessment methodology will also allow for effectiveness monitoring that can determine whether impacts on riparian habitats from urban development are being fully avoided when the assessment methodology is used correctly.