High lake levels have been impacting shoreline communities throughout the Great Lakes region and as a result, the need for proper shoreline protection has been highlighted by both municipalities and private citizens.
In the St. Clair Region Conservation Authority (SCRCA) watershed, erosion and flooding have been reported along Lake Huron and the St. Clair River.
Living along Ontario’s coastlines is a dream for many people in the province, however, there are inherent risks involved when purchasing shoreline property.
Conservation Authorities were established with the responsibility to manage natural resources and protect life and property from natural hazards.
As a result, the SCRCA regulates shoreline properties within the St. Clair Region watershed to ensure development activities are completed in a safe and reliable manner.
Regulated activities include the installation of shoreline protection.
“Coastal environments along the Great Lakes shorelines are complex and dynamic, and as such, erosion control measures in one area, may not be appropriate for another, and strategies that appear to have been successful in the past, may not hold true today,” stated Brian McDougall, General Manager of the SCRCA, in a media release.
Each permit for shoreline protection is reviewed by SCRCA staff on a case-by-case basis.
However, every application is reviewed to ensure that:
– The protection is structurally sound,
– The structure has sufficient life-expectancy, and
– That the structure does not negatively impact adjacent landowners.
Permit reviews consider not only the specifications of the design but also local hydrology, wave action and shoreline dynamics, amongst other factors.
SCRCA staff are also required to ensure that proposed protection works to address erosion at one site, will not create new erosion problems or aggravate existing ones along other properties.
“We strongly recommend that landowners contact our staff to arrange a pre-application consultation meeting prior to submitting their application,” stated McDougall, adding that “these sessions can substantially alleviate delays in permit approval.”
During pre-application consultation meetings, SCRCA staff can ensure applicants are advised about all required documentation, potential peer-review of engineered structures, and associated costs.
In addition, SCRCA staff can provide applicants with a list of engineers who are experienced in designing shoreline protection structures.
“Where permit approval is delayed, most cases involve incomplete applications, unresolved land ownership issues, or conflicts with adjacent landowners,” McDougall said.
Erosion control projects are expensive and require the input of specialists including engineers and shoreline construction contractors.
The SCRCA is a non-profit organization that seeks out funding opportunities to help offset the costs associated with these projects for both public and private lands.
In most cases, funding programs are specific to public lands such as the recently announced federal funding that will assist shoreline protection projects in the City of Sarnia and the Township of St. Clair.
Funding programs for private landowners have not been available for over a decade.
The Authority continues to actively seek out grants to assist both municipal and private landowners in completing shoreline protection work, where possible.
“We strongly encourage anyone who has questions or concerns regarding our involvement in erosion control projects to contact us,” McDougall said.
“We are open, available and eager to work with our communities to protect their properties and investments.”
For more information, visit their website at www.scrca.on.ca.