Development Permits

A Development Permit is a statutory tool which may be used by municipalities to exercise discretionary control over certain types of development. The City of White Rock is divided into seven Form, Character, and Sustainability Development Permit Areas and three Environmental Development Permit Areas. With certain exceptions, a Development Permit must be obtained prior to the subdivision of land, or the construction/addition/alteration of any building or structure on any property in any designated Development Permit Area.

You can determine whether your property falls within a Development Permit Area by reviewing Schedule B - Form, Character and Sustainability Development Permit Areas or Schedule C: Environmental Development Permit Areas of the White Rock Official Community Plan, 2017, No. 2220 (the "OCP") (PDF).

All Development Permit Guidelines can be located in Part D: Development Permit Area Guidelines of the White Rock OCP. Please note that certain types of development are exempt from the development permit process (see section 22.2 and 23.2 of the OCP). Please note that the White Rock Planning Procedures Bylaw, 2017, No. 2234 (PDF) provides further distinction between a Major Development Permit and a Minor Development Permit, as further described below:

Minor Development Permits

A Minor Development Permit is a development permit which, if issued, would conform to the development permit guidelines set out in the Official Community Plan, but which does not require a variance to a provision of a City bylaw, for:

  • An amendment to a development permit where no variance is required
  • A commercial development permit limited to minor facade improvements or signage, that does not involve reconstruction or expansion of the existing building footprint of floor area
  • A development permit in respect of natural resource preservation, environmental development, or protection from hazardous conditions
  • A residential development permit for a duplex or triplex

Minor Development Permits are approved by the Chief Administrative Officer. Any minor development permit application that involves the form and character of a development (e.g. duplexes, triplexes, form and massing amendments, commercial facade and signage, etc.) may require presentation before the Advisory Design Panel. Further information is located at our Resources and Documents page.

Major Development Permits

A Major Development Permit refers to any Development Permit that does not quality as a Minor Development Permit. For full clarity, this primarily refers to the following:

  • All new developments proposals that take place within a designated FCS Development Permit Area
  • Development permits that require concurrent approval of variances to City bylaws
  • Development that meets the OCP's definition of "assisted living residences"
  • Development that meets the OCP's definition of "intensive residential development"

Major Development Permits are approved by Council. Every development permit application that involves the form and character of a new development will likely require presentation before the Advisory Design Panel. Further information is located at our Resources and Documents page.

Exemptions

As previously noted, there are certain types of development activity that are exempt from the development permit process. These exceptions are distinguished by the type of Development Permit Area (FCS or Environmental):

The following activities are exempt from the development permit application approval process under a Form, Character, and Sustainability Development Permit Area:

  • Proposals where the intended use is wholly limited to institutional, utility and/or civic uses
  • Interior alterations and/or renovations with no charges to the exterior appearance or design
  • Building envelope remediation so long as there are no charges to exterior appearance or design
  • In-kind replacements of missing, worn, or damaged materials, so long as there are no charges to the exterior design or appearance
  • Alterations to a facade that result in only minor changes to the form and character of the building
  • Applications for individual signs only

Exempt Activities

The following activities are exempt from the development permit application approval process under an Environmental Development Permit Area:

  • Emergencies - all actions to resolve emergency situations must be reported immediately to the Engineering and Municipal Operations Department and the Planning and Development Services Departments, as well as the appropriate Federal/Provincial authorities. A Development Permit is not required to authorize procedures to prevent, control, or reduce flooding, erosion, or other immediate threats to life or public or private property, including:
    • Emergency actions for flood protection, erosion protection, and clearing of obstructions;
    • Emergency works to prevent, repair, or replace public utilities
    • Clearing of an obstruction from a culvert or drainage flow;
    • Repairs to safety fences;
    • Removal of a hazardous tree that presents a danger to the safety of persons or is likely to damage public or private property, as determined by an ISA Certified Tree Risk Assessor. A tree management permit will be required prior to removal.
  • Existing approved developments, including previously approved Development Permits are variances still in effect that were approved prior to the adoption of these policies. Modifications to these permits or variances may necessitate a new application.
  • Public Works and Services - the construction, repair and maintenance of works by the City or its authorized agents and contractors are exempt from the formal development approval process. However, development within Riparian Assessment Areas must be completed in accordance with a Riparian Areas Assessment.
  • Re-establishment of the Streamside Protection and Enhancement Area by planting native vegetation.
  • Removal of invasive non-native vegetation, provided that a vegetation management plan, prepared by a Qualified Environmental Professional, is provided to and approved by the City.
  • Repairs and renovations to existing buildings and structures on existing foundations that involve no changes to the footprint of the building or structure.

If you have any questions about Development Permit exemptions or the process generally, please contact Planning and Development Services at your earliest convenience.