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:
- Tree cutting
- Tree damaging activities
- Native vegetation removal
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.