The Development Services Department manages land use and development applications through the implementation of regulations that support the public's vision of the community as established in the Official Community Plan.
Developing land is often a multi-stage process with multiple city departments involved. Land use applications are regularly referred to the Advisory Planning Commission to make recommendations to City Council. Some applications require a public process. Input and approvals may be required from external agencies (provincial, utility providers, community etc.) as well. See Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) for detailed information.
Official Community Plan amendment process
Zoning Bylaw amendment process
Development Variance Permit process and the Board of Variance process
Development Permit process
Subdivision or Strata Titling process
Temporary Use Permit process
Yes. If you wish to build, renovate or change the use of land in Port Alberni you will be required to obtain permits and inspections. You will need a minimum of one or more of the following:
- Building Permit - The Building Inspector reviews applications for compliance with Port Alberni's zoning and building regulations and with the BC Building Code prior to issuing a building permit. For more specific information regarding Building Permit applications see Building and Renovating.
- Demolition Permit - More information.
- Development Permit - If you are planning a project located in a Development Permit Area you may also need to obtain a Development Permit before you begin.
Note: Other permit types may also be required for your project.
The Official Community Plan includes a number of Development Permit Areas which apply to the form and character of development for many properties zoned as commercial, industrial, or multi-family. If your property falls into one of these categories you may need a Development Permit before applying for a building permit.
If your development plans comply with the zoning regulations consult with the City Building Inspector to determine what type of building permits will be required. You will also need to determine whether a Development Permit is needed.
If your development plans do not comply with the parameters given in the Zoning Bylaw your options may include one or more of the following:
- A Zoning Bylaw amendment (see "Do I need a Zoning Amendment" below)
- A Development Variance (see "Do I need a Variance" below)
- A Board of Variance Approval (see "Do I need a Variance" below)
- A Temporary Use Permit
Where a development plan does not meet the use or density requirements of the existing zoning designation, then a Zoning Bylaw text or map amendment is required. The Official Community Plan, local and neighbourhood plans and other City policies or guidelines specify under what circumstances a rezoning may be appropriate. These documents should be consulted before you make a decision to apply for a rezoning and your first step will be to schedule a meeting with the Director of Development Services.
If you are unable to build because your project does not meet the requirements of a relevant bylaw it may be possible to obtain a Variance. There are two types of Variance's to consider. Discuss your options with the Building Inspector or Director of Development Services prior to making an application:
- Board of Variance (BOV): The Board of Variance has the authority to grant minor variances from the building regulations specified in the Zoning Regulation Bylaw, but cannot vary use or density. If the variance that you need exceeds the jurisdiction of the Board of Variance, you will need to apply for a Development Variance Permit (DVP).
- Development Variance Permit (DVP): A DVP is a Permit granted by Council to vary the provisions of the Zoning Bylaw, Subdivision Bylaw, Sign Bylaw and other Land Use and Development Bylaws. A DVP cannot cannot vary use or density (ex. permit a land use not otherwise permitted in a zone, or increase the maximum number of dwelling units permitted on a parcel of land). A Development Variance Permit requires a public notice and is registered on the Land Title.
See More Information about the Variance Application process.
Staff review development applications and make recommendations to the Advisory Planning Commission and to City Council when bylaw amendments, permits or variances are requested. Staff also coordinate public notices and hearings when required by provincial legislation. Some applications may require approval from Provincial authorities (Min. of Transportation and Highways).
Note: When your application requires a Public Notice and Hearing process or Council approval, City staff cannot guarantee that your application will be successful. For applications that do not require approval by Council, staff must ensure that the proposal satisfies conditions specified in City bylaws, and other relevant legislation, before they are approved.