In partnership with the County, Quinte Conservation is in the final stages of development of a Shoreline Management Plan which could have significant implications for future waterfront development on Lake Ontario and the Bay of Quinte.
The purpose of this article is to make buyers, sellers and realtors aware of a new factor which they will need to take into account when assessing waterfront properties once the Shoreline Management Plan is adopted.
The Quinte Conservation Authority released its draft Shoreline Management Plan on April 5th, 2022 and held a public consultation on April 12th. Once approved by Quinte Conservation the plan will have to be approved by Council before it’s effective.
The County is relatively late to the party in preparing a shoreline management plan. For decades provincial policy has called for the development of such plans to ensure that development along major waterbodies is sustainable. Conservation Authorities and municipalities to the west of us already have plans in place.
The pending Shoreline Management Plan should be of interest for buyers or developers of land fronting on Lake Ontario or the Bay of Quinte because it is possible that the setbacks for some properties could increase significantly.
Before the establishment of Shoreline Management Plan, the County’s Official Plan required a setback of 30 meters from the 100-year flood line (with some exceptions). Development was generally prohibited within the 100-year flood line because it identified low-lying parts of a property which would be susceptible to flooding during periods of high water.
However, Shoreline Management Plans also take into account other hazards in addition to high water. Dynamic Beach Hazard Analysis is particularly important because it can significantly alter the buildable area of a property in unpredictable ways.
Under the draft Plan, there will be three distinct factors used to establish the protected area which the Conservation Authority is responsible for: the 100-year flood line, the wave upwash area and the dynamic beach hazard.
The 100-year flood line shows where water will go based on the assumption that the shoreline remains constant. This is currently used as the basis to calculate setbacks within which development is limited.
The new wave upwash setback takes into account the fact that incoming waves rushing up on shore during a storm can reach beyond the 100-year flood line.
In addition, the Dynamic Beach Hazard takes into account the fact that shorelines are constantly changing through erosion due to currents and wave action.
Based on an assessment of the composition of a shoreline (sand, rocks, solid rock, etc.), the slope of the beach, and wave size, etc., Dynamic Beach Hazard Analysis models where the risk will be as the shoreline changes in the future.
Dynamic Beach Hazard Analysis can unexpectedly result in setbacks that extend much further than the 100-year flood line.
The opening image for this article shows a real-life example where I represented a buyer who was interested in a piece of vacant land on the Lake Ontario shoreline in a community east of Prince Edward County.
The yellow dotted line shows the historically-required setback from the 100-year flood line where no development can take place. Fortunately, our due diligence included a check with the local planning authority who advised us that based on their Shoreline Management Plan, the setback for Dynamic Beach Hazard was much further inland, significantly reducing the buildable area on the property.