Tools for Local Governments and Communities to Protect Essential Ecosystems

Gabrielle and Andie

ELC Intensive Stream Students Gabrielle Grant and Andie Britton-Foster worked on the EDPA report

Thanks to ELC students Gabrielle Grant and Andie Britton-Foster, it should be a little easier for the public and local governments to work together to protect their local ecosystems using Environmental Development Permit Areas (EDPAs). EDPAs are a tool available to local governments in British Columbia to protect the riparian and terrestrial natural environments.

Prepared for Saanich Action for the Environment (SAFE), the report Environmental Development Permit Areas: In Practice and in Caselaw shows how a local government can use its discretion to craft EDPA tailored to its particular region. Under the supervision of ELC lawyer Deborah Curran, law students Andie Britton-Foster and Gabrielle Grant examined four different jurisdictions in BC that have used EDPAs.

Their report provides a clear analysis on how municipalities shape their EDPA regimes, and how the law treats EDPAs. It pays special attention to terrestrial ecosystems, which is significant as there is no provincially legislated protection for land-based ecosystems as is the case for riparian areas.

Recommendations include the need for detailed mapping of EDPA areas; a clear list of what activities are considered “development” and what development is exempt; and recognizing the importance of ecosystem connectivity, which requires a shift in  perspective from focusing on environmentally sensitive areas to overall ecosystem health.

The report concludes that as long as local governments provide reasonable explanations connected to their EDPA permit decisions, their permitting decisions will be upheld in court.  An overview of the study was presented at Saanich’s Town Hall meeting on March 16.

Saanich Action for the Environment (SAFE) is a group of Saanich citizens supportive of maintaining and improving the existing EDPA bylaw as part of our commitment to a healthy and sustainable environment for future generations.

Click here to download the report.

For more information:

Peter Haddon, SAFE member


Deborah Curran, ELC Lawyer


Andie Britton-Foster    andiebf [at]

Gabrielle Grant    gagrant [at]