Natural State Covenants

Playfair Park

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What is a Natural State Covenant?

  • A Natural State Covenant is a legal agreement permanently registered on the property title.
  • Generally, it requires land within the covenant area to stay in its natural state.
  • Natural State Covenants protect all plants and natural features; Tree Covenants protect trees only.
  • We call both types of covenants 'Restrictive Covenants'.

Why is there a Natural State Covenant on my property?

  • It protects natural areas that might otherwise be damaged by development.
  • It is likely that we identified a natural feature when your property was subdivided.
  • These features could be a forest, a nesting site, rare plant or animal habitat, a wildlife corridor, or a rare ecosystem such as a Garry Oak meadow.

Where is the Natural State Covenant on my property?

  • If you don’t know where the covenant is, get a copy of the covenant document and plan of the covenant from the Land Titles office.
  • During site development, you usually need to temporarily fence off the covenant area to protect it from construction activities.
  • Sometimes we require permanent open-rail fencing to indicate the covenant area.

What happens if the covenant area is damaged?

  • Occasionally, construction and servicing of a development site damage covenant areas. Sometimes damage occurs after the house is built. 
  • If you damage or cut trees or remove native vegetation in the covenant area without permission, we’ll ask you to stop any damaging activities and to restore the area.
  • We can also apply financial penalties if restoration isn’t possible.

Does this mean I cannot use the covenant area?

  • No, it means that you can make only limited changes.
  • Read your covenant document to see what you can and cannot do, and what you need approval for.
  • Most covenants let you remove non-native plants like Blackberries and Scotch Broom, and to plant native plants like Red-flowering Current and Kinnikinnick.

Most covenants do not permit the following:  

  • Blasting
  • Filling
  • Tree cutting
  • Tree damaging activities
  • Native vegetation removal
  • Building.

You may be able to do some of these activities with previous written consent from Saanich. If in doubt, call Saanich Environmental Services.

Where can I get more information?

Saanich Environmental Services has many resources:

  • Advice on maintaining or restoring your covenant area.
  • Help interpreting your covenant document and plan.
  • A list of native plant and seed suppliers.
  • A list of native plant gardeners.
  • Details of the Native Plant Salvage Program.
  • Naturescape BC.     

Please contact Saanich Environmental Services at 250-475-5471 to obtain resources, ask questions or request permission to make changes within the covenant area.

If you have questions about Tree Covenants, please call the Parks Department at 250-475-5522.