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New Resident Guide

Rural living offers an attractive lifestyle but is different from living in an urban area.  Many of the services normally provided to urban residents are not available in rural areas of the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) and must be provided by the landowner.  This page is intended to provide an insight into rural services and landowner responsibilities, but is not a comprehensive review of all services, bylaws and regulations that may apply to your property. 
For more detailed information please consult the RDEK website or contact RDEK staff.

Local Government Lingo

  • RDEK – Regional District of East Kootenay
  • ALR – The Agricultural Land Reserve is a provincial designation that protects agricultural  land.
  • Electoral Area – The regional district is divided into six electoral areas (A, B, C, E, F and G).  Each electoral area represents unincorporated rural areas outside of municipalities.
  • Electoral Area Director – Each electoral area is represented on the Regional District Board by a Director elected by rural voters.

Roads & Access

The RDEK does not construct or maintain roads.  All highways and most roads are maintained by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.  Some backcountry roads are seasonally maintained by the Ministry of Forests.  In strata developments, roads may be owned and maintained by the strata corporation.  To confirm the status of a road contact the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure at 250-420-6550.

Development must not encroach upon statutory rights-of-ways, utility easements or roadways.  A title search through a BC Government Agents Office will show if any apply to your property. 

Emergency Services

Emergency response times for the RCMP, BC Ambulance Service, and fire department (in fire protection areas) may vary according to local conditions. The RDEK has a region wide 9-1-1 program.  It is important that your civic address is clearly posted where it can be seen from a public road.

Building & Development

The RDEK provides building inspection services and has bylaws, community plans and policies to guide and manage development. Zoning bylaws regulate land use activity.  Permitted uses are set for each zone.  Other provisions include: minimum parcel size, maximum building heights, setbacks and parking requirements.

Official community plans provide a broad vision and strategic direction for land use change.  Policies include: future land uses, environmentally sensitive areas, major roads, and utility services.

Subdivision in rural areas is the responsibility of the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.  The RDEK also has requirements including proof of an adequate supply of potable water, sewage disposal and compliance with applicable zoning provisions.

Unzoned does not mean unregulated.  Development in unzoned areas is subject to the BC Building Code, Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure setbacks, and RDEK subdivision servicing requirements.  In some areas development may also be affected by the ALR or floodplain restrictions.

Building schemes or covenants limit or regulate the use of property.  These restrictions appear as a charge on the title to your property.  While private building schemes are not enforceable by the RDEK, you should be aware of any conditions that apply to you.

For information related to planning and development contact a planning technician.  Please have the legal description or civic address of your property to assist with your query.

Landowner Responsibilities

As a rural landowner you are responsible for:

  •  Maintaining your septic system, potable water source and access to a public road.
  •  Ensuring you have obtained all necessary permits, such as building, wood burning appliance, or manufactured home placement.
  •  Controlling and managing invasive plants (noxious weeds) on your property.  We’re here to help! For more information visit  Invasive Plant Control or contact [email protected]
  •  Ensuring that trees and vegetation do not come into contact with powerlines.  Regular pruning and careful selection of trees and vegetation is essential.  Visit BC Hydro at www.bchydro.com for more information.
  •  Calling before you dig.  Pipelines and cables may be underground and can present a serious hazard.  Contact BC One Call at 1-800-474-6886.
  •  Ensuring Provincial standards are followed if you plan to store fuel on your property.
  •  Recognizing that undeveloped land neighbouring your property may not always remain so.  Ownership may change and lands may be rezoned or developed for other uses.
  •  Maintaining your property in a clean and safe condition.  The RDEK is not responsible for illegal dumping.

Utilities & Services

Solid waste collection is only available by private haulers or contractors and is not available in all rural areas.  Waste must be taken to a RDEK transfer station or landfill site.

Recycling services are available throughout the region.  The RDEK has designated bins for the collection of most household recyclables, including glass and plastic.

Fire protection is not available in all rural areas.  To inquire whether your area has fire protection, contact the RDEK.

Cellular phone service is available along highway corridors throughout the major valleys, but is not currently available in all regions.

Power outages can occur more frequently than in urban areas and it may take time for power to be restored.  To report a power outage contact BC Hydro at 1-888-POWER-ON.

Potable water is required through a private utility, community water system or a well on the property.   Information pertaining to wells including a list of registered well drillers and well pump installers is available from the Ministry of Environment website at: Groundwater Wells & Aquifers - Province of British Columbia (gov.bc.ca)

Sewage disposal is regulated by the Sewerage System Regulation, which requires that all on-site wastewater services are done by a registered practitioner, a registry of qualified registered practitioners is available at http://owrp.asttbc.org.  Proof of potable water and a sewage disposal system are required at the time of subdivision for each proposed lot.


Living in a rural area provides an opportunity to live closer to nature.  However, it also presents a unique range of hazards and challenges for residents.

Living in a rural area can provide you with an array of wildlife neighbours.  While they may be a welcome addition to your home it is important to recognize that wildlife may become a safety issue and a nuisance.  Garbage must be kept inside and handled responsibly to avoid attracting animals such as bears.  For tips on how to be ‘bear aware’ visit www.bearaware.bc.ca.

Natural features to consider when constructing buildings on your property include:

  • Areas near a lake, river, stream or other body of water may be subject to elevation and setback distance requirements for flood protection.
  • North facing slopes do not receive direct sunlight during the winter months.  Snow and ice can accumulate and add to the difficulty of maintaining steeply graded driveways and walkways.
  • If your property is located within a hazard area or an area known to be geologically unstable, a study may be required to confirm that the land can be developed safely.

Interface Fire

Homes built within forested areas face the threat of being damaged or destroyed by wild or interface fires.      To protect your home and reduce the risk of interface fires follow the FireSmart principles. For detailed FireSmart information visit:

Some simple steps to protect your home include:

  • Cleaning up your yard.  Remove all needles, long grass, branches and underbrush that could fuel a fire.
  • Prune branches to at least 2 m above the ground and keep grass mowed.
  • Keep wood and other flammable materials away from your house or other buildings.  It should be a minimum of 10 m away and uphill from your home.
  • Use decorative rock instead of bark mulch.
  • Consider replacing a wood shake roof with a more fire resistant material.
  • Enclose the undersides of patios and decks, eaves, vents and other openings.


Agriculture is an active industry within many parts of the RDEK.  Agricultural use is recognized within RDEK bylaws and policies and is protected by the Agricultural Land Reserve.

The Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) is a provincial designation which protects agricultural land.  Agriculture is recognized as the primary use within the ALR.  Farming and farm related activities are encouraged and non-agricultural activities are controlled. 

ALR regulations take precedence over all other legislation and bylaws that apply to the land, including RDEK zoning bylaws.

The hours of operation for agricultural operations can be irregular, operating from dawn until dusk during some seasons.

Normal farm practices protected by the Farm Practices Protection Act often generate dust, odours, noise, and include the use of manure, herbicides and pesticides.

Rural Taxation

  • Property taxes in unincorporated areas are assessed and collected by the Provincial government.
  • Rural taxes for properties within the RDEK vary depending on the location of your property and type of services provided. 
  • Property assessment is based on the market value of the buildings and land. 
  • Many rural recreational properties have a high assessment value and therefore proportionately higher taxes. 
  • For information about property assessment contact the BC Assessment Authority or visit www.bcassessment.ca.


Q:  What is the RDEK?

A: The Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) is one of 28 regional governments formed by the Province to provide local govern¬ment services to unincorporated areas.  Regional districts are BC’s way of ensuring that all residents have access to commonly needed services, no matter where they live.  The RDEK functions as a partnership of the municipalities and electoral areas (unincorporated areas) within its boundaries to provide and coordinate services in both urban and rural areas.

Q: What do I need to know about home based businesses in rural areas?

A:  If you plan to operate a business from your home there are provincial and local government land use regulations which must be followed.  If your property is in the ALR, your proposal must meet the Agricultural Land Commission Regulation. In areas that are zoned you must meet the requirements of the applicable zoning bylaw.

Q: Can I have a bed and breakfast in my home?

A: Bed and Breakfasts are considered a home based business and must meet the requirements of applicable RDEK bylaws.  If your home is in the ALR you must also meet the Agricultural Land Commission Regulation.

Q: To whom do I report a road kill?

A: Contact Mainroad Contracting at 1-800-665-4929 or the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure at 1-888-613 9993.

Q:  To whom do I complain about excessive noise, barking dogs or unsightly premises if I live in a rural area?

A:  The RDEK employs two bylaw enforcement officers who are responsible for regulatory bylaws.  Bylaws vary by electoral area and may include nuisances and unsightly premises, noise control, dog control, zoning and special events.  To make a complaint or inquire about the regulatory bylaws which are in effect in your area contact Debbie Pighin, Compliance Officer or Kim O'Farrell, Columbia Valley Compliance Officer.

Q: How do I apply to get farm assessment status for my property?

A: For any questions concerning the assessed value or classification of your property contact the BC Assessment Authority.

Q: When do I require a building permit?

A: Building permits are issued for any structure over 100 ft2, manufactured /mobile home placements, and wood burning appliances.  Other permits may be required please contact the Building Department for further information.

Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK)

   Cranbrook Office:  250-489-2791
   Columbia Valley Office:  250-342-0063
    Toll Free:  1-888-478-7335 (RDEK)
    Email: [email protected]"> [email protected]  
    Website:  www.rdek.bc.ca

 Other Agencies

Agricultural Land Commission
    Phone:      604-660-7000
    Website: www.alc.gov.bc.ca/

BC Assessment Authority
    Phone:      250-426-8901
    Website: www.bcassessment.ca

BC Government Agents Office
    Phone:      250-426-1211 (Cranbrook)
    Phone:      250-423-6845 (Fernie)
    Phone:      250-342-4260
                        (Upper Columbia Valley)
    Toll Free: 1-800-663-7867 (Enquiry BC)

BC Hydro 
    Power Outage:  1-888-POWER ON
    Website:  www.bchydro.com

BC One Call
    Toll Free:  1-800-474-6886

Interior Health Authority
    Phone:      250-420-2220 (Cranbrook)
    Phone:      250-423-8288 (Fernie)
    Phone:      250-342-2360 (Invermere)                      

Mainroad Contracting
    Phone:      250-417-4624
    Road Hazard Reporting: 1-800-665-4929

Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure
    Phone:      250-420-6550
    Toll Free: 1-888-613-9993

Ministry of Forests, Mines and Lands
    Phone:      250-426-1700
    Forest Fire Reporting: 1-888-797-1717

Ministry of Environment
    Phone:      250-489-8540

Last edited: Tue, October 24, 2023 - 3:06:26