Some meetings have taken place, but residents around Centre Crescent and the mouth of the Little Qualicum River are still frustrated with a lack of enforcement regarding tree removal along the river bank.
Will Penny, manager of the Cedar Grove Campground, across the river from a property where trees were removed, said he and a group of neighbours are meeting with representatives of the Regional District of Nanaimo, the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans and other government departments.
“There are so many questions about how (the property owner) managed to start construction without any environmental or other assessments,” Penny said.
He said that when the campground property was developed four or five years ago, they had to have an environmental assessment and an archeological assessment, specifically because a midden had been found on the property across the river in question.
“He sidestepped the rules just by going ahead and doing it,” Penny said, adding that the previous owner said he was unable to get insurance because he was told it was in a flood plain.
Property owners are generally allowed to remove trees on their own property in the RDN, but there are restrictions in riparian areas along waterways.
“We believe he’s in contravention, but enforcement is a bit challenging sometimes,” said Jeremy Holm, RDN manager of current planning.
“If he was building something we can withhold building permits,” he said, “but we don’t have a stop work process when someone’s altering land without looking for approval.”
“We will continue to seek compliance through restoration or remediation,” he said, adding that he believes work has stopped, though he isn’t in direct contact with the property owner.
RDN chair Joe Stanhope said they are concerned about the situation and looking into resolutions.
The DFO and the property owner could not be reached for comment.