Flood Hazard Area Land Use

Notice to Developers – Forthcoming Amendment to Flood Hazard Area Land Use Management Guidelines

The Provincial Government proposes to update the Flood Hazard Area Land Use Management Guidelines (FHALUMG, 2004) to include guidance on land use and development in areas that will be affected by sea level rise.  This update is based on a technical report (Sea Dike Guidelines) commissioned by the Province and published in 2011, which demonstrates how sea level rise will influence setbacks and flood construction levels in coastal areas and recommends incorporating sea level rise into planning and development to ensure a standard of public safety into the future. The Flood Hazard Area Land Use Management Guidelines have been prepared by the provincial government to help local governments, land-use managers, and approving officers develop and implement land-use management plans, and make subdivision approval decisions, in areas subject to flood hazards.

Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations – Flood Hazard Land Use Management

This update represents a significant policy change that will impact land use and development decisions made by local governments in coastal areas.  The forthcoming Amendment Flood Hazard Area Land Use Management will amend sections 3.5 (The Sea) and 3.6 (Areas Protected by Standard Dikes) of the Environmental Management Act based on a series of technical studies, Climate Change Adaptation Guidelines for Sea Dikes and Coastal Flood Hazard Land Use (Ausenco Sandwell, 2011), as well as discussion with local governments and stakeholders over the past  four years.  Publication of the final amendment may also be conditional on further analysis and consideration of any policy or technical issues that arise during the consultation process.

The Province recommends that local governments should consider broad flood hazard management tools to ensure that future land use will be planned and buildings constructed in a manner that will reduce or prevent injury, human trauma and loss of life, and to minimize property damage during flood events.  When a local government has a designated flood plan, local governments are required to consider the flood plain guidelines.  Prudent local land use management decisions regarding hazard lands, that give due regard to such guidance as is contained in the Guidelines may or may not have liability consequences.  Protecting the local government and land owner drawing upon proposed and current guidelines, regulations and best practices is the precautionary approach.

Appropriate land use management requirements should be included by statutory decision-makers at certain stages in the planning process including land use patterns (e.g. subdivision), infrastructure, Official Community Plans, Bylaws and Development Permits.

The Local Government Act sets out the following:

S. 910 a local government may adopt a flood plain bylaw that designates an area as a flood plain, specifies development levels and setback requirements in a designated area and enforces these conditions;See Flood Regulation Bylaw
S. 919.1 a development permit areas may be designated in an OCP for the protection of development from hazardous conditions;
S. 920 where a development permit area has been designated under the provisions of Section 919.1 a development permit may specific areas of land that may be subject to flooding, mud flows, torrents of debris, erosion or tsunami that must remain free of development except in accordance with any conditions contained in the permit;
S. 903 can regulate parcel configuration, the density of the land use, siting and standards of buildings and structures;
S. 694 where building regulations are established or under S.699 where the building inspector considers that construction would be subject to flooding and flood proofing conditions are not established in any of the above.


Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Coastal Floodplain Mapping – Guidelines and Specifications (June, 2011 – PLEASE NOTE: this is a large file and may take time to download)
BC Ministry of Environment Sea Level Rise Adaptation Primer (January 2013)
Fisheries and Oceans Canada, BC Ministry of Environment Factors Affecting Relative and Absolute Sea Level in Coastal BC (2008)
BC Ministry of Environment (June 30, 2014) Professional Practices in Assessing Flood Protection Guidelines