Council adds conditions for renovation or construction of suites in flood-prone areas

Squamish District Council has voted to add two conditions to the renovation or construction of secondary housing in flood-prone areas of the community.

The conditions are for those who wish to renovate or build a secondary suite below the flood prone construction level (FCL). Addition or renovation will only be permitted in areas where the flood depth is less than one meter and is not in a debris flow risk area.

Prior to this change, the regulations permitted the renovation or addition of secondary accommodation under the FCL, but there were certain conditions such as safety certification by a qualified professional.

However, the regulations were unclear about acceptable hazards, the district said. As a result, the district received several requests for secondary apartment additions in areas with significant flood risk, including areas where the entire apartment would be flooded to the ceiling.

District staff do not believe it is appropriate to allow the addition of secondary suites where there is a potential risk to life or limb. With this new amendment, the addition or renovation of secondary apartments would be permitted in areas deemed to have “nuisance flooding” during extreme events, but with conditions.

At the same meeting, the district had given three readings to an amendment to the floodplain bylaw to allow underground parking.

In the previous regulation, underground parking was prohibited below the seasonal high water table. The amended by-law will authorize underground parking lots and garages below the water table.

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