Planning Applications

If a property owner want to build or use their property in a way that fits with existing City regulations, they simply apply for a Building Permit or a Business License. However, if an owner or developer wants to build or use a property in a way that isn’t allowed by City regulations, then a Planning Application submission is required. All Planning Applications are considered by Mayor and Council and approved at their discretion.

Types of Planning Applications include:

  • OCP amendment – The Official Community Plan (OCP) describes the long-term vision for the City. It's reviewed about every ten years but small changes (or amendments) may be proposed, although rarely. An example of an OCP amendment would be if a developer owned a property designated for residential use, but wanted to build commercial retail.
  • Rezoning– The Zoning Bylaw regulates the use, density, and form of development in the city. A property owner can apply to change the zoning for their property, such as from a 3-storey apartment to a 6-storey mixed-use building. Any rezoning proposals must comply with the OCP land use designation for the property.
  • Development Variance Permit – Property owners can apply for a Development Variance Permit (DVP) for an exception to some aspect of the zoning bylaw, while still complying with the same zone. For example, a DVP could vary the height requirement for a building, while staying within the limits of the OCP designation. DVP cannot vary use or density.
  • Temporary Use Permit – Property owners can apply for a Temporary Use Permit (TUP) to temporarily use their property for something that is not permitted under the existing zoning. For example, an industrial property could be temporarily used as a commercial showroom. These permits are valid for up to three years, with a potential for a one-time extension. 

Planning Applications are reviewed by City staff, but the final decision is made by Mayor and Council. Each type of Planning Application follows a slightly different process, but they all go to a Council meeting for consideration by Mayor and Council. Below is the typical process of a rezoning application – from beginning to end – after being received by the City.

development process overview

How to Apply

Developers or homeowners interested in submitting a Planning Application can visit the Land Use Approvals page

Regulation of New Development

The City’s Planning & Development department oversees most aspects of current development and plans for future development. The types of allowable buildings and uses are outlined primarily in three policies and bylaws: 

  • Official Community Plan – The Official Community Plan (OCP) is a set of goals and principles that outlines the kind of community that the City aims to become. The Land Use section of the Official Community Plan provides a long-term vision for how different parts of the City should develop.
  • Zoning Bylaw – The Zoning Bylaw describes allowable building shapes, sizes, placement, and uses. Every property in the City is assigned a zone, for example RS-1 zone (one unit residential) or C-2 (commercial). For each zone, there is a section of the Zoning Bylaw that outlines what kind of buildings can be built there, and how they can be used.
  • Construction Regulation Bylaw – The Construction Regulation Bylaw, together with the provincial government’s BC Building Code, is a set of rules on how to construct buildings to make them safe.

Learn More About Active Applications

Visit the City’s Active Applications page to learn about ongoing and recent proposals, see upcoming opportunities for input, or to reach out to the developer or City staff with questions. 

Most development applications require written notification be provided to neighbours via:

  • Signs on sites with active development applications
  • Mailouts to notify neighbours within a 40 m radius of the proposal
  • Newspaper ads (i.e. North Shore News)

Share Your Input on a Proposal

Developers may choose to do a Preliminary Public Consultation before submitting an application. This is often in the form of mailouts, door-to-door visits, or a neighbourhood meeting. The City encourages developers to engage the community early in the process, but the City does not organize or participate in Preliminary Public Consultations.

Early in the application process, developers may be required to hold a Developer Information Session as an opportunity for the public to learn about a proposal and share early input.

Before making a final decision on an application, Public Hearings/Meetings are sometimes held to provide additional opportunities for you to share your thoughts with Council and have your comments placed on record.  Due to recent legislative changes from the Provincial Government, many applications (developments which are over 50% residential and consistent with the OCP) prohibit or don’t require a Public Hearing; for these applications, public input can only be received by way of written submissions. Visit the Active Applications page to find the application you are interested in and see how best to provide your input, depending on the type of application and the stage to which it has advanced. 

Public input will help inform Council’s decision on whether to allow the proposed development to proceed.

Interested in Getting Involved? 

For any Planning Application, public input can be formally shared with Council in two ways:

  • Written input may be formally received to or via mail leading up to noon on the day of Council Consideration (3rd Reading) for any Planning Application. 
  • The public may also share their input by speaking to Council at a Public Hearing or Public Meeting, if one is held.

Visit the Public Hearings & Meetings page to view the upcoming schedule, register to speak at a Public Hearing or Public Meeting, or view minutes from recent Public Hearings and Meetings.

Public Hearing vs Public Meeting?

Public Hearings are always held for applications that require an OCP amendment. Rezoning applications that comply with the OCP do not require a Public Hearing, but Council can request that one be held unless, under the new legislation, a Public Hearing is prohibited (i.e. for principally residential developments). Public Meetings are similar in format to a Public Hearing, but may be held for applications that require a Development Permit, Development Variance Permit, or Temporary Use Permit.

A special type of meeting is a Town Hall meeting, which may be held for major development applications, such as a new community centre. Town Hall meetings take place in the community and provide an opportunity for Mayor and Council to hear input from developers and the public before the application is formally introduced at a City Council Meeting.

Contact Us

For general Planning questions, please contact us at or call 604-982-WORK (9675).

If you have an active Planning Application, please contact the planner working on your project directly.

Share |