Development permit areas

Local governments have the authority to designate development permit areas. These areas identify locations that need special treatment for certain purposes including the protection of development from hazards, establishing objectives for form and character in specified circumstances, or revitalization of a commercial use area.

Local governments may designate areas of land as development permit areas to be used for one or more purposes. The eligible purposes of a development permit area are:

  • Protection of:
    • The natural environment, its ecosystems and biological diversity
    • Development from hazardous conditions
    • Farming
  • Revitalization of an area in which a commercial use is permitted
  • Establishment of objectives for the form and character of:
    • Intensive residential development
    • Commercial, industrial or multi-family residential development
    • Development in a resort region
  • Promotion of:
    • Energy conservation
    • Water conservation
    • Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions

Designating a development permit area

Local governments may designate a development permit area in an official community plan. The plan must describe the special conditions or objectives that justify the designation.

The local government must also specify guidelines for how proposed development in that area can address the special conditions or objectives. These guidelines may be specified by zoning bylaw.

Obtaining and issuing a development permit

Within a development permit area, a property owner must get a development permit before:

  • Subdividing land
  • Constructing, adding to or altering a building

A local government may issue a development permit that varies or supplements a subdivision or zoning bylaw, and it must not vary the use or density permitted in the bylaw (except in relation to health, safety or protection of property from damage).

Development permit areas for climate action

Local governments may designate development permit areas in an official community plan for purposes supporting climate action.