Drainage of properties in rural upland areas is provided by natural watercourses (rivers, creeks, and streams) and the man-made ditches connected to them. Natural watercourses and streambeds are owned by the Crown on behalf of all residents of the Province. The Water Stewardship division of the Ministry of Environment protects the rights of the Province, through an approval process for any and all diversions of water, uses of water, and any changes a property owner or person desires to make in and about a stream.
Watercourses change over time, as a result of natural and human factors, and those changes can adversely affect the drainage of nearby lands. For example, when a watercourse is blocked, upstream properties can be flooded. Or, as a result of land-clearing or development activities, downstream properties can be flooded or experience erosion of creek banks. Some maintenance of watercourses is generally required over time.
Most areas of the City pay drainage user fees, allowing the City to fund maintenance and improvement activities in watercourses and drainage systems. The rural upland area does not, and a recent proposal to enact a user fee bylaw to generate funds to do this type of work was strongly opposed by some property owners. The responsibility for maintenance therefore continues to rest with the owner of the property containing a watercourse.
If you, as a property owner, wish to arrange for maintenance works on a watercourse, the Provincial Habitat Officer needs to be involved. The following websites provide information and application forms.
Government of BC - Environment
Government of BC - Water Rights
Please note one of the conditions will likely be that the work be done between July 15 and September 15 of any given year in order to minimize the impact on the Fisheries resource.