Construction and Land Development

I want to build a house/garage/deck/ or other structure on my property. What permits or approvals do I need from Community Planning Services?
The first step is to obtain a Planning Referral application and complete the required information. Let us know what it is you would like to build and where you plan to build it on the property, along with some other siting details and information about your property. You may require an Environmentally Sensitive Area Development Permit if your proposed construction is nearby or adjacent to fish bearing watercourses, the ocean, eagle nests or Great Blue Heron rookeries. Consult with planning staff to determine if you need this kind of permit. You may also need a Development Permit if your land is commercial or industrial property, or located near steep slopes or hazard areas. Please contact Community Planning Services for more information.

Once your planning referral application or any required development permits have been approved by Community Planning Services, you may then apply for a building permit. Contact the building department or go to the building department webpage for more information.

Why don't I have a street address for my property yet?
Street addresses, or house numbers, are assigned to properties at the building permit stage. Once you obtain a building permit to construct on a vacant property, a street address will be assigned that is tied into the Emergency 911 system.

I have an empty lot. Can I build an accessory building (garage, storage shed) first, before I build a house?
Some zoning bylaws of the regional district permit an accessory structure of a limited size to be constructed before the principal structure. If the property owner wishes to construct an accessory building where no principal use is carried out, the accessory building may be constructed on a lot provided the building is no greater than 90 meters² (968.8 feet²) in total floor area and is used solely by the owner of the same lot for the storage of personal effects.

Can I live in my existing house on my property while I build my new house?
You may live in an existing single family dwelling during the construction of a new single family dwelling where the maximum number of dwellings exists. There are three main requirements that are required to be fulfilled.

A registerable covenant is completed, which contains language to remove, demolish or convert the existing single family dwelling and includes a rent charge in the amount of $5000 ensure the covenant details are fulfilled by the owner.

  • The proposal has approval of the local Health Authority.
  • Must satisfy conditions of the Agricultural Land Reserve if applicable.
  • Please contact Community Planning Services or view the Additional Dwelling Performance Bonding package for more information.

Do I need any siting approvals or building permits for a pool?
If a pool of any constructed materials or prefabricated pools have a surface water area greater than 15 metres (160 feet²) or a depth greater than 500 milliliters (20 inches), or both, the pool is required to meet setback requirements as stipulated in the zoning bylaw and will require a building permit.  Please contact the building department to inquire about additional pool construction requirements (fencing, walkways, etc.)

All of your applications say that I need a copy of my property title. Can you do this for me with my application? What about other covenants or rights-of-ways?
When an application is made, a title search of the property is required to determine if there are any covenants, restrictive covenants, easements, rights-of-ways or other documents registered against the title, which may prohibit construction on the property or on certain areas of the property. All of our application fees include a title search, however obtaining any additional documents, such as the ones listed above, are on an “at cost” basis.  We only able to perform title searches or document retrieval requests for regional district applications.

I heard about a rezoning or development in my neighbourhood. How do I find out more about it?
If a rezoning or Official Community Plan amendment is being processed, a series of public notices about the application and when the public hearing will be held will be run in a local newspaper. The notice will also appear on our website on the Notice Board on the homepage. For other types of development, please contact Community Planning Services to inquire about applications in progress. Please note that because of privacy laws, only general information may be given.

When do I need a survey to confirm setbacks or heights of buildings and structures on my property?
A survey certificate, prepared by a British Columbia Land Surveyor, is required to confirm the setbacks or heights of buildings and structures conform with the zoning bylaw when they are being constructed within 1.0 metre (3.3 feet) of your property setbacks or maximum permitted height, or when the Building Inspector cannot easily determine that the building or structure is beyond the setbacks or if the height cannot be determined.

A survey may also be required for certain permit applications, such as to confirm the siting or height of a building or structure when a Development Variance Permit is applied for, or for another application when determined by the rgional district.

Septic regulations have changed. Now what do I do?
As of May 31, 2005, the provincial government replaced the previous septic regulations with the new Sewerage System Regulation. Property owners are no longer able to file plans, design or install their own systems. Property owners must hire a registered professional recognized by the Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of BC.  If an authorized person wishes to construct, install, alter or repair a sewerage disposal system, the legislation requires that plans, installation reports and maintenance plans be filed with the Vancouver Island Health Authority (a filing). Click here to visit the Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of BC website to view a list of qualified professionals.

A ‘filing' is required to be completed with the local heath authority when you wish to obtain a building permit for construction or alteration of buildings or structures on your property. You are encouraged to consult with the local heath authority, Community Planning Services or the building department if you are planning a construction project.

How do I assign a person as my agent to act on my behalf for planning applications?
To simplify the process of giving another person the authorization to act on your behalf for planning procedures and applications, we have created an Agent Authorization form that you may view and download, fill out and return with your planning application. This allows the owner of property to give permission to another person to apply for and receive approvals of planning applications on your behalf.  This is a helpful option for people who reside outside of the area or cannot personally apply for applications or appear at meetings, etc., associated with some planning procedures.

How do I find out if a Development Permit or a Development Variance Permit has been issued for a property?
Contact us! We would be happy to look up this information for you and provide you with a copy of any permit document copies.

My property is within 200 metres of an eagle nest tree, 300 m of a heron rookery or 30 m from a watercourse, as shown on your Habitat Atlas. How is my property affected?
Properties that are within 30 metres of fish-bearing watercourses (including lakes, streams, the ocean, etc), 200 metres of an eagle nest tree or within 300 metres of a Great Blue Heron colony are subject to the requirements of an Environmentally Sensitive Area Development Permit in Electoral Areas ‘A', ‘B' & ‘C' (Comox Valley).

The purpose of the permits is to ensure that these environmentally sensitive areas are not threatened or disturbed by potential development activities. The permit places conditions around developments, such as restricting development from occurring during the breeding season of eagles and herons, or ensuring that the riparian area of a fish-bearing watercourse is maintained.  Please check our brochure about these areas, and contact us if you have any questions.