Riparian Management Areas

HB - Riparian area

Riparian areas are productive ecosystems where terrestrial and aquatic environments meet. Riparian vegetation stabilizes banks, improves water quality and temperature, contributes nutrients to aquatic environments, and provides habitat. The City’s Riparian Management Areas (RMAs) form a critical component of Richmond’s Ecological Network.

To meet provincial requirements under the Riparian Areas Regulation, in 2006 the City adopted the Riparian Areas Regulation Response Strategy. Under the Riparian Response Strategy, RMA setbacks of 5m and 15m on minor and major watercourses were pre-designated in consultation with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. RMA designated watercourses are wetted the majority of the year with a significant source of ground water, and flow into and support fish life in the Fraser River. Development within or adjacent to an RMA must be approved by the City in accordance with requirements under the Riparian Areas Regulation. For more information please see Riparian Management Area Info-23 Bulletin or see sections below.

How do I know if my property has a Riparian Management Area?

The City’s RMA are defined in the Riparian Management Area Map (Official Community Plan Bylaw No. 9000, Section 9-5). To search properties that have RMA setbacks please visit Richmond Interactive Map (RIM) on the City Maps page.

When in RIM, click on layers, expand planning services, select the 5 m and 15 m RAR (Riparian Areas Regulation) layers and zoom in / search for an address. City staff are available to help identify the presence of an RAR on a property. Please note an RMA setback need to be surveyed and delineated in the field measured perpendicular from top of bank.

Development application requirements for properties with an RMA

Under the provincial Riparian Area Regulation the City is required to protect RMAs from development. Development is defined as any of the following associated with or resulting from the local government regulation or approval of residential, commercial and industrial activities:

  • Removal, alteration, disruption or destruction of vegetation;
  • Disturbance of soils;
  • Construction or erection of building and structures;
  • Creation of non-structural impervious or semi-impervious surfaces;
  • Flood protection works
  • Construction of roads, trails, docks, wharves and bridges;
  • Provision and maintenance of sewer and water services;
  • Development of drainage systems;
  • Development of utility corridors; and
  • Subdivision.

For permits authorizing residential, commercial or industrial development activity, on a property with a Riparian Management Area, applicants are required to include the following three (3) application requirements:

  1. Survey and delineate the RMA measured from top of bank on plans and surveys submitted for permit approval.

  2. Submit a Construction Environmental Management Plan that demonstrates how the RMA will be protected throughout the duration of development that includes but not be limited to protection measures outlined in Figure 1 below. Prior to application submission please contact Environmental Sustainability to review project specific requirements at 604-247-4672.

  3. Include the following RMA site note on plans and surveys submitted for permit approval:

    City of Richmond Riparian Management Area (RMA)
  • The RMA must not be altered except in accordance with a City approved permit and Construction Environmental Management Plan prepared by (insert company name), dated (insert date of report) No tree, shrub or ground cover removal; no storage of materials; no building, structure or surface construction including retaining walls can occur in an RMA.
  • RARgraphic
    Figure 1: Minimum RMA protection measures
  • A brightly coloured, temporary fence of a minimum height of 1.2m must be erected at least 2m outside of the RMA. An erosion and sediment control fence must be installed on the property side of the brightly coloured fence. All additional RMA protection measures, as defined by a Qualified Environmental Professional must also be installed/completed.
  • All protective fencing and erosion and sediment control measures must be in place before development begins, and remain in place until development is complete and final approval received.
  • The landowner is responsible to restore to the satisfaction of the City any unauthorized development within the RMA.

An exemption from RMA application submission requirements may be considered on a site by site basis if proposed development poses no risk to form and function of the RMA. If exempt from RMA application submission requirements, the RMA will still need to be surveyed and delineated on plans and surveys submitted for permit approval, and proposed works will need to adhere to applicable best management practices. Please contact Environmental Sustainability to review project specific requirements at 604-247-4672.