Understanding the development process and joining the conversation.

Community engagement is one of the corner stones of the development process. Personal engagement with a variety of stakeholders helps us to design meaningful residences that contribute to the local community.

In order for this engagement to benefit everyone, it is important that members of the community have answers to any questions they may have about the process. The development FAQs below are designed to help any community member join the conversation as we embark to design and build innovative, community minded spaces.


Zoning bylaws regulate how land, buildings and other structures may be used. Zoning bylaws may divide the whole or part of an area into zones, name each zone and establish the boundaries of those zones. 

Zoning implements municipal and regional district land use planning visions expressed in official community plans and regional growth strategies, and may support community sustainability and resilience goals.

For example, residential zones can be defined to reflect different types of residential uses in a community such as single-family, duplex and multi-family. The names of the zones and the related details are determined by each local government so there may be variation between communities throughout the province.

The following may be regulated within a zone:

  • Use and density of land, buildings and other structures
  • Siting, size and dimensions of buildings and other structures and permitted uses
  • Location of uses on the land and within buildings and other structures
  • Shape, dimensions and area of all parcels of land created by subdivision (this can include establishing minimum and maximum parcel sizes)

A zoning bylaw can limit the height of buildings and other structures and permitted uses in a zone and create other zones in the space vertically above or below it. For example, vertical zoning could apply to a mixed-use project with commercial use at street level and residential use above.

The power to regulate through a zoning bylaw also includes the power for local governments to prohibit any use or uses in a zone.

As circumstances change over time, there may be a need to amend a zoning bylaw or to apply for a development variance permit or for a board of variance order.

Bylaw Amendment can be requested by a developer for a specific site or initiated by a local government for a specific site or for a larger area (for example, to coincide with an official community plan amendment or a larger update to an official community plan).

A local government must hold a public hearing on a proposed zoning bylaw, including amendments to the bylaw. However, the hearing can be waived where an official community plan has been adopted and a proposed zoning bylaw is consistent with the official community plan.

Municipal councils or regional district boards can approve a development variance permit for a number of different situations. For example, this type of permit can vary the provisions of a zoning bylaw, subdivision servicing, park land, parcel frontage on a highway, other bylaws (such as runoff control, parking, screening or landscaping) and certain other provisions.

This type of permit must not vary use, density or flood plain specifications, a rezoning is required to change these items.

Zoning bylaws can include the option of additional (bonus) density subject to specific conditions, which can include providing amenities.

Local governments can use density bonus zoning (density bonusing) to acquire amenities that have been identified in the zoning bylaw in return for higher density for a development. Most local governments negotiate community amenity contributions as part of a rezoning process.

Growth and development often lead to a demand for community amenities beyond what are provided by development cost charges.

To secure these additional community amenities, some local governments use density bonus zoning (density bonusing) or community amenity contributions that are negotiated as part of a rezoning process.

Local governments can collect development cost charges (DCC’s) to pay a portion of off-site infrastructure required to service new growth. For example, local governments can collect charges for the expansion of a water reservoir, development of a sewage treatment plant or for upgrading roads or acquiring parkland.

However, DCCs cannot be applied to certain amenities such as libraries or recreation centres. To secure these additional community amenities, local governments typically use density bonusing and community amenity contributions

When a local government rezones land, it usually increases the land’s value which provides a financial benefit to the applicant, usually the owner or a developer. Increasingly, local governments are seeking to capture part of that financial benefit in order to help fund new infrastructure or provide other public benefits.

Community amenity contributions are negotiated contributions agreed to by the developer and local government as part of a rezoning process initiated by the developer. CACs typically include the provision of amenities, affordable housing and/or financial contributions towards amenities. The agreed-to contribution is obtained by the local government, if the local government decides to adopt the rezoning bylaw.

Local governments do not have legal authority to require applicants for rezoning to pay CACs. They must ensure that any CACs are obtained as part of a negotiation process. Local governments must also not commit to pass a rezoning bylaw on the condition that CACs are provided. Council and regional board members are legally required to remain open-minded on a proposed rezoning, until they have heard the public’s perspectives at the public hearing.

Developers and local government officials should ensure a direct, demonstrable link between CACs and the impacts of new development.

Developers and local government officials should ensure CACs are proportional to the impact of the development and consistent with the CACs made by other applicants/developers.

Developers and local government officials should be transparent about the amount of CACs and how they will be used.

CACs should only be used for capital costs. Local governments should be sure that they have the budget capacity to deal with operational and repair costs over time.

“The many small details set this building apart, and I feel its design will be admired for years to come.”

—Peter Wood, Owner, Bear & Joey