Environmental Sensitive Area Mapping

The District of Squamish has identified Environmental Sensitive Areas (ESA) mapping as a strategic priority for 2015-2016.   

The overall goal of this project is to provide information that will be used to aid future land use planning in the region, and to support policies and objectives during the Official Community Plan (OCP) review in 2016.


Phase 1 Timeline:  March 2015 to May 2015


  • Review and analyze the existing ecological data pertaining to the District;
  • Governance analysis, including a review the District’s existing environmental policies, and policy recommendations;
  • Gap analysis that will identify next steps for completing ecological data collection and analysis for the District.


The results of the ecological data review and governance analysis were combined to determine an overall approach and prioritization for future sensitive areas mapping and associated policy development within the District.  Based on this, recommendations have been provided for the improvement of ecological baseline data for the District.

The gap analysis determined that the District should improve the existing Terrestrial Ecosystem Mapping to make it more robust and accurate, and include detailed mapping and inventory of wetlands and the marine foreshore. A future phase of the project will include mapping of watercourses throughout the District.

Further, a Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory mapping system should be developed using the provincial standards, from which environmental sensitivity ratings can be created.

 Phase 1 Final Report


Presented to Council’s Committee of the Whole on Tuesday May 10, 2016

Phase 2 Timeline:  September 2015 – April 2016


  • To improve the ecological baseline knowledge of the District, using established provincial methodologies and standards, and a robust field sampling program;
  • To develop a Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory (SEI) classification system and ratings for environmentally sensitive lands.

This project phase will include the following baseline data collection and mapping work:

  • Bioterrain and Terrestrial Ecosystem Mapping (TEM)
  • Wetland Inventory Mapping (WIM)
  • Marine Foreshore Inventory Mapping (FIM)

The results of the mapping will be used to develop the Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory (SEI) classification system and map. From that, a simplified Environmental Sensitivity Rating will be developed, and a GIS and variety of map products will be produced.

View the Environmentally Sensitive Areas Mapping Interactive WebMap

Phase 2 TEM Final Report

Phase 2 SEI Final Report


Phase 3 Timeline:  2016


  • Mapping of wetlands and watercourses.  This work shall include a complete revision of the District’s Watercourse Atlas and supporting information, including but not limited to: centerline, top of bank, ravines, names of watercourses, fish presence / species names (where available, based on existing databases), the modeling of a 30m riparian area based on biophysical terrain features at a scale of 1:1,000 for all areas within the District of Squamish (121.5 sq. km.).  All mapping will be accomplished using established standards, methodologies and procedures.
  • Working Group workshop on enhancing Squamish’s resource information base for improved conservation and management of wetlands and related aquatic ecosystems.

Concurrent to the Environmental Sensitive Areas mapping work, stakeholders will be invited to learn more about the project, and will be asked to help identify priorities for future phases of resource inventory.  The BC Wildlife Federation has received a modest amount of funding to provide added value to the District of Squamish’s Environmental Sensitive Areas Mapping project with the aim to enhance wetland conservation and empower and engage the local community in the process.  


Phase 4 Timeline:  2017

The Sensitive Habitat Inventory and Mapping (SHIM) method is a community-based approach to mapping aquatic habitats and their riparian areas, primarily for settlement areas of British Columbia.  SHIM provides current and spatially accurate information about fish and wildlife habitats. 

An inventory of key wetlands and watercourses will be completed.  This work shall include a field survey of pre-identified watercourse and wetlands, utilizing Sensitive Habitat Inventory and Mapping (SHIM) methods and Riparian Areas Regulation (RAR) Assessment guidelines. The inventory shall meet the minimum definition required in order to set out streamside protection and enhancement areas (SPEA).  Primarily, this includes: watercourse centerline, general dimensions and watercourse characteristics; such as: flow (permanence or seasonal), connectivity, fish presence, impedances and barriers, streamside vegetation and bank erosion.

View the Watercourse Mapping Interactive WebMap.

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