Keep property development along Lake Erie further from the shoreline, says LTVCA

The Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority (LTVCA) is reviewing the rules that govern shoreline development to better protect residents who live along the Lake Erie shoreline. 

The conservation authority announced the policy review Tuesday.

LTVCA watershed and information services manager Jason Wintermute said the change was partly inspired by flooding and erosion along the Lake Erie shoreline in Chatham-Kent, but added the conservation authority was more motivated by a shoreline study set to be completed by early 2020.

Wintermute said preliminary results suggest that "current erosion rates that we've been using are being underestimated."

"That would mean that while the objective of the regulation is to protect the home for 100 years, we're not achieving that, because we're not using an erosion rate that's large enough," he said. 

As it stands, policy already governs how far back from bluffs and shorelines properties need to be. 

According to Wintermute, the LTVCA will now more strictly enforce a policy requiring a shoreline setback out a further 15 metres.

"Our expectation is that once the study comes back, the erosion portion of that setback will end up increasing," Wintermute said. 

Wintermute said the interim policy only applies to the Lake Erie shoreline in Chatham-Kent. 

In a Sept. 3 notice, the LTVCA said "no significant changes from current conservation authority and municipal policies will occur for Erie Beach, Erieau, Shrewsbury and Rondeau Bay Estates; with minor changes for Erie Shore Drive, Bates Drive and Rose Beach Line."

Wintermute added that the interim policy won't force existing homeowners to leave their properties. 

"There are provisions in the policies to allow renovations and things that would improve to those structures," he said. "There's nothing in there that's basically be driving people out of their homes."

"It's really restricting the further development and the further investment on those properties that are already currently at risk."