Common Zoning Questions

What is an electoral area?  Which electoral areas have zoning?
An electoral area is a geographic area within the regional district.  Click here to view a map of: Comox Valley electoral areas [PDF - 940 KB]. There are three electoral areas within the Comox Valley Regional District and Community Planning Services provides planning for them. The planning function for Denman & Hornby Islands is provided by Islands Trust. Electoral areas ‘A', ‘B' & ‘C' combined are unofficially known as the Comox Valley.

View a map showing the zoning in the regional district, and which zoning bylaws apply:

What's the zoning on my property?  How does it affect my property?
To determine the zoning on your property, launch Imap, locate your property and click on the zoning tab or use the ‘help' function or detailed instructions.  The zoning on your property regulates such things as density, setbacks, heights of structures, lot coverage, accessory building floor area maximums, minimum lot sizes and permitted principal and accessory uses, and conditions of those uses.

How do I figure out what my property setbacks are?
Setbacks for the purpose of siting buildings and structures are found in the zoning bylaw in your area.

To figure out your setbacks,
1.  Launch iMap 2.1

There may also be siting exemptions for certain structures, and various setbacks for road right-of-ways, floodplain, or environmental features. You are encouraged to check with Property Services to confirm your setbacks.

What are the height restrictions for fences?  Buildings?

  • Fences may be up to 2.0 metres (6.6 feet) in height, measured from the natural grade.
  • Single Family Dwellings in all electoral areas may be up to 10 metres (32.8 feet) in height.
  • Accessory Buildings may be up to 6.0 metres (19.6 feet) in height measured from average natural grade to peak of roof, depending upon its location on a parcel of land.

Can I have a secondary suite, carriage house or cottage on my property, in addition to my main residence?
The Comox Valley Zoning Bylaw permits various housing options for properties in electoral areas A, B and C. The zone your property is in regulates density and outlines the types of secondary dwelling options available. Most residential zones permit one form of a secondary dwelling to address affordable housing in the Comox Valley. They must have full planning, building inspections, septic & water approvals. Other restrictions may apply if your land is within the Agricultural Land Reserve. Contact us for more information.

What size of property do I need before I can have livestock animals, such as chickens or horses?  Is there a limit to the number of livestock animals I can have?
You may have livestock animals on properties that permit agricultural use, which is identified by the zone you are in.  Some zones permit agriculture as a principal use on any lot, other zones permit agriculture on a lot 4000 square metres (1.0 acre) or larger, and other zones do not permit agriculture. The regional district does not regulate the number of livestock animals you may have. Find your zone in iMap.

I want to sell goods or food from a mobile vending unit. Can I do this in the regional district?
Mobile vendors may operate in all zones in electoral areas A, B and C (the Comox Valley) and are subject to the following conditions:

  1. The vending of any goods by a mobile vendor shall not be carried out from any highway or foreshore area.
  2. The vending of any goods by a mobile vendor shall not be carried out for more than 2 hours in any zone which does not permit retail sales as a permitted principal use.
  3. No structure shall be placed or erected in association with the vending operation.
  4. Only one free standing sign no larger than 1.0 square metre (10.8 square feet) on each side may be displayed in association with the vending operation.
  5. Vending of any goods within regional district park boundaries requires the issuance of a Park Use Permit from the regional district.
  6. Where food is offered for sale, approval from the local health authority is required.

Can I have a sawmill on my property?
In electoral areas ‘A', ‘B' or ‘C' (the Comox Valley), unless prohibited by the zoning bylaw, portable sawmills are permitted:

  1. On a lot which it is used solely to saw logs from trees grown and harvested from the lot on which the portable sawmill is located, or
  2. As a Domestic Industrial Use where permitted in the bylaw subject to those conditions.

Some of the larger-acreage rural zones in the bylaw permit permanent sawmill use, with conditions. Please check with the zones to see where such permanent sawmill uses are permitted.

My building/fence/retaining wall or other structure is overheight. A portion of my house/garage/deck/ or other structures intrudes into the property setbacks.  How are my buildings affected?  How do I “legalize” them?
The procedure to formally legalize non-conforming structures on a property, whether they intrude into the property setbacks or are overheight, are done by a Development Variance Permit or a Board of Variance Appeal. These procedures, if approved, relieve that portion of the non-conforming structure from the provision of the bylaw, whichever the case may be. Contact us for advice before making an application to help you decide which process is better for your situation.

Can I live in a recreational vehicle on my property?
Occupancy of a recreational vehicle on your property for residential purposes is permitted for various circumstances in the Comox Valley such as when you are building your main residential home on the same lot and wish to stay in your recreational vehicle during construction. See the Comox Valley Zoning Bylaw to view the specific conditions. In rural zones, there are specified days on how long someone may “camp” on their property in a recreational vehicle. Campgrounds on your property for commercial use are only permitted in Tourist Commercial zones.