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Mighty Neighbourly – Association of the Savary Island Committee (ASIC)

Mighty Neighbourly

Savary Island has experienced an influx of new owners, and more owners building or renovating in the last year.  ASIC has been made aware of various questions and concerns about what is or isn’t possible, especially from new owners.  Below we suggest some guidelines and requirements to keep in mind, aligned with the BC Public Health Act –Sewerage System RegulationStandard Practice Manual, and Health Hazards Regulation;  the BC Water Sustainability Act and  ; the BC Building Code;  and the Savary Island Official Community Plan.

Check your title for any restrictive covenants. A significant number of properties on the west end of the island have what is called a “tree covenant” on title, which is legally enforceable. You can check this yourself—ideally before you purchase, but some people don’t realize this until after they purchase. Learn more about how it might apply to you in this article by Chris Harvey, originally included in the 2020 SILT summer newsletter.

When it comes to planning for a well and wastewater services for your property you will need to comply with various Regulations under the BC Public Health Act  and will need to retain the services of a registered well driller and registered well pump installer for the well, and a registered onsite wastewater practitioner (ROWP) or qualified professional to evaluate the ability to install an onsite wastewater dispersal field to be filed and registered with Vancouver Coastal Health in Powell River.   The Sewerage System Regulation dictates a proposed new wastewater dispersal field cannot be placed within 30 metres of an existing well and, conversely, the Health Hazards Regulation dictates a proposed new well cannot be placed within 30 metres of an existing source of contamination (e.g. pit privy or septic field).  Due to the placement and narrow width (15 m) of most of the lots on Savary there are many situations where it is not possible or desirable to install a well or septic field due to the proximity of existing wells and wastewater systems on adjacent properties, or poor soil conditions.  In some areas of Savary it is not possible to construct a wastewater dispersal field due to either poor soil conditions (e.g. the soil has a high silt/clay content impeding drainage) or the surface soil becomes seasonally saturated with water or the water table is at or near the surface of the ground on a seasonal basis.

It can be wise to have a survey done to establish the boundaries of your property before you build, to ensure you aren’t encroaching on crown land or a neighbouring property.

It is also kind and neighbourly to consider the impact of your activity and building on those around you, and to let your neighbours know the timing and scope of your work.

There are archeological sites scattered across Savary Island that are valued by the community and the Tla’amin First Nation. These sites are protected by the Heritage Conservation Act, and may not be altered without a permit from the Archaeology Branch of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts.

Due to the increased activity on island over the last few years, it could take quite some time to secure the trades required for your project, especially since some trades break for the summer.

ASIC will update this Building & Development topic in future Updates. We are interested in hearing from you about what you wish you knew before you purchased, built, or improved your place. You might also have questions about, or helpful additions to, the list above. Email us as