One of several geotechnical maps highlight areas of risk in West Bench, which is intended to be taken into consideration for future development and permits by the Regional District. (RDOS)

No pools, secondary houses and subdivisions likely after West Bench geotech report

The regional district is looking at multiple bylaw changes and additions

Following the results of a geotechnical study on the Greater West Bench area there could be a number of changes coming down including a ban on any new swimming pools in the area.

Due to the geological make-up of the West Bench, with a great deal of silt built up over top of the bedrock, water can have an outsized impact on the stability and safety of the region.

The proposed prohibition on swimming pools would not affect any of the 40 or so currently installed pools in the area that were recorded on aerial photography. Those existing structures will be grandfathered.

Any future pools would require a variance to be requested and approved by the regional district board.

That is just one of multiple requests and recommendations that staff will be putting forward to the board of directors to make a bylaw.

These recommendations were outlined in an online information session the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen held on Dec. 7 following completion of the West Bench geotechnical survey.

Updating the district’s wastewater management plan for the area, reviewing stormwater management, and updating a number of zoning and permit laws is also a result of the geotechnical survey.

READ MORE: Findings of West Bench geotechnical survey maps potential hazards and risks

One recommendation for the bylaw regarding building permits is to include requiring a geotechnical survey as part of any permit application for a new structure on West Bench.

A soil and deposition bylaw will be a new bylaw that is expected to be brought forward as the first of its kind for the RDOS, which will restrict where and what kind of fill can be done particularly in the West Bench area.

Further, although the zoning bylaw already forbids secondary suites or accessory dwellings as permitted buildings on properties in the West Bench, staff are now also recommending further restrictions on subdivisions to properties that are a minimum of five hectares, of which there are currently only seven properties in the area, including the gravel pit used by Westhills Aggregates.

An online reporting tool for sinkholes and other such issues is a recommendation to develop, however unlike the bylaw amendments that tool is not expected to be ready in 2022.

Given the geological conditions of the West Bench, there would also be an addition of further reviews every 10 to 20 years.

These amendments to the West Bench’s bylaws have not yet gone before the board for approval.

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Okanagan-Similkameen Regional Districtzoning