How would the proposed changes affect property owners?

Environmental development permits are already required for specific development activities on land located in and around our protected natural areas, so the proposed update to the ESA Management Strategy will not have a direct impact on the majority of property owners. However, the boundaries of the proposed permit area have been revised to include some additional properties, such as those along the marine shoreline. This change brings these properties in line with others located near natural areas.

If your property is located within the boundaries of the proposed permit area and you plan to develop or redevelop your land, you will need to arrange a review by City staff to determine if your planned activities require a development permit (DP) or a minor DP.

A DP is a permit approved by City Council that identifies specific measures that must be taken as a condition of development. A Minor DP can be approved by City staff and can be used to process applications for the reconstruction of single family homes in or around ESAs.

Not all activities require a permit – some activities, such as interior renovations, minor repairs, and maintenance within existing landscaped areas, are exempt.

It’s important to note that a development permit area designation is not intended to stop development or prevent re-building of single-family homes; it's a flexible tool that allows the City to evaluate specific conditions and activities, and work with property owners to reduce the impact of development on ESAs and restore habitat where possible. The purpose of the development permit process is to gather more information about the landscape and environment, identify where approvals or notifications may be required (federal, provincial, local), and to modify development plans if necessary to protect our natural areas.

Permit requirements will continue to depend on the type, scale, and location of development and existing property conditions. When small, single-family home construction with no direct impact on ESAs is proposed within assessment areas, it is anticipated that a minor DP will be required outlining measures for protecting natural areas. For larger-scale developments, such as multi-family projects, a more detailed assessment would be required to determine specific measures and conditions of development.

Activities that may require a DP or minor DP include:

  • demolition
  • construction or addition to a building or other structure
  • land alteration (e.g. clearing, grading, impervious surfaces, infrastructure, new landscaping)
  • subdivision
  • rezoning

Exempt activities include:

  • activities that comply with existing agreements with senior government agencies or covenant terms
  • property works (e.g. interior renovations, maintenance and repair of existing buildings and structures, gardening, maintenance within existing landscaped areas)
  • ecological restoration and enhancement works
  • emergency and hazard works
  • public utilities and operational works

Please see the illustration for examples of measures that may be required under development permits to protect and restore ESAs:

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