Land use bylaws other than zoning

Municipalities and regional districts may adopt land use bylaws to address matters such as runoff control, development in a flood plain, parking and loading, regulation of signs, and screening and landscaping.

The authority for these bylaws is provided in the Local Government Act. Contact your local government to find out which bylaws apply in your community.

Other provincial and federal agencies may also have their own regulatory requirements that can impact local government land use.

Runoff control and stormwater management

Runoff control bylaws address the runoff from rooftops and paved areas and the disposal of surface runoff and stormwater. The bylaw may also establish the maximum percentage of area covered by impermeable material, like asphalt or cement. The requirements may vary depending on uses, zones, geography and the size of paved and roof areas.

Integrated stormwater management planning is a comprehensive approach to rainwater management that plans for a range of rainfall events, not just large storm events. This can help to to meet flood prevention objectives and preserve or enhance the health of aquatic and riparian ecosystems.

Flood plain bylaws

Flood plain bylaws designate areas where local government considers flooding may occur. The bylaws may specify the flood construction level--the flood level and the setbacks that are needed to elevate a floor system so that it is above the flood level. In developing these types of bylaws, the local government must consider provincial guidelines, provincial regulations and related plans and programs.

A local government may grant certain exemptions if it is advisable. The exemption must be either consistent with provincial guidelines or the local government has received a report certified by a professional engineer, geoscientist or geotechnical engineer that the land may be used safely for the intended use. The exemption may specify terms and conditions and may require preparation of certain reports and registration of a covenant.

Off-Street parking and loading space bylaws

Off-street parking and loading space requirements and standards may be defined in a bylaw. As well as the location, number and size of spaces, the bylaw may also establish requirements for matters such as numbering and lighting. The requirements may vary, for example by building type, use, location and design.

Sometimes the landowner can make a payment for parking instead of providing the parking spaces. If money is received, the local government must establish a special reserve fund to provide for new and existing off-street parking or for transportation infrastructure for walking, bicycling, public transit, or other alternative forms of transportation.

Sign bylaws

Under their land use authority, local governments may adopt sign bylaws to regulate the number of signs and the size, type, form, appearance and location of the signs. The requirements may vary according to different situations such as zones, uses within a zone and highway classification.

Additionally, local governments have general authority to regulate signs and other advertising devices, including their placement, alteration, maintenance and demolition.

Signage and advertising related to provincial highways is subject to restrictions and in some cases also regulations and approval by the minister responsible for transportation.

Screening and landscape bylaws

Screening and landscape bylaws may be used for a variety of purposes including:

  • Masking or separating uses
  • Preserving, protecting, restoring and enhancing the natural environment
  • Preventing hazardous conditions (for example, a bylaw could require certain types of plants to help stabilize a steep slope)

The requirements may vary according to different zones, uses within a zone and locations within a zone.