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Crackdown nails docks in View Royal

Jun 22 2012

The Department of National Defence is cracking down on illegal waterfront docks and other structures in Esquimalt Harbour, warning residents to follow federal regulations.

DND staff have identified about 40 properties along the shoreline, all within View Royal municipal boundaries, with possible illegal structures, such as boat ramps or platforms.

Residents with any fixture on Crown land must have a licence, which comes with stringent requirements to protect DND operations, commercial activity, neighbours' riparian water rights and the environment.

"We're now preparing to send out notifications to residents - asking them to become compliant or remove the structures," said Doug Kimmett, deputy Queen's harbour master.

Some residents are not registered at all, according to an initial DND survey that found that structures outnumbered licences.

Kimmett plans to inform residents about the licensing process, and encourage them to conform to regulations.

The educational program is part of DND's role as the harbour operator, a responsibility that was transferred from Transport Canada in 2005.

More regulations could be coming for waterfront structures. View Royal, which has far more shoreline residents than neighbouring Colwood and Esquimalt, wants to establish municipal guidelines for all new applications to help determine the size and character of what people can build.

Concerned residents on the waterfront fear they may lose some of their riparian water rights and recently formed the Waterfront Association of View Royal. Members say they have not been involved in any consultation so far.

Association founder Dawn McCooey said residents, who have had docks or stairs going to the water for decades, suspect changes will require them to replace their structures or remove them altogether.

But View Royal planning technician James Davison said the municipality just wants to have a say about new structures.

"Our council stated quite clearly that the Town of View Royal has no issue with existing docks. This issue is with new dock applications," Davison said. "If a dock needs to be completely rebuilt, we need to figure out what needs to happen."

He said the municipality is in the process of consulting with residents and DND to establish those regulations.

"Dock applications go to DND. They [DND] don't have to involve the town, but they are, and we appreciate that," Davison said.

Licence of occupation approvals typically need to be renewed every five years and cost property owners about $250 annually. For more information about the regulations, go to www.navy.forces.gc.ca.

dspalding@timescolonist.com

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