Development Planning & Applications

To learn more about a particular aspect of development planning, please click on one of the following hyperlinks:

What is Development Planning?

Development Planning refers to the technical review and processing of development proposals received by the City of White Rock. Using various City plans and policies, Planning staff undertake a critical and professional evaluation of all development applications received by the City. Depending on the type of application, public consultation and notice may be required at various points during the review and approval process.

Development Planning - List of Current Development Applications

Please click here for a link for the City's list of current development applications. Be aware that this list updated on a monthly basis. Additionally, project statistics outlined in an application's description are approximately only, and may change prior to final approval.

For the most up-to-date information on any particular development application, please contact Planning & Development Services staff by emailing planning@whiterockcity.ca.

Development Planning - Submitting a Development Application

Before You Begin ... Consider the Following:

  • Consider a pre-application meeting!

Prior to submitting any development application(s), please contact the Planning & Development Services Department to arrange a pre-application meeting to discuss your proposal, identify what applications may be required and answer any questions you may have. Please be aware that submitting an development application does not automatically guarantee approval of your proposal. 

  • Review our requirements!

Your application will be processed in accordance with the requirements of various City bylaws and Council policies. Anyone who intends to proceed with an application should read all relevant portions of the White Rock Planning Procedures Bylaw, 2017, No. 2220 for a full understanding of the City's procedural and submission requirements. Full information regarding frequently requested Planning documents, including the Planning Procedures Bylaw, is available at our Resources and Documents subpage.

  • Ensure that your application is complete!

Pursuant to Section 21.0 Development Approvals Information of the White Rock Official Community Plan and the White Rock Planning Procedures Bylaw, additional information may be required before your application is considered complete. Staff will only accept a full and complete application at time of intake. You will need to verify your particular application requirements with Planning staff.

  • Read the following information!

For additional information on different types of development applications, please click one of the following links for further information:

Official Community Plan Amendments

The White Rock Official Community Plan, 2017, No. 2220 (OCP) is a statement of objectives and policies that guides decisions on planning and land use management in the City. Local governments within British Columbia are authorized to adopt an OCP in accordance with the Local Government Act.  Once an OCP has been adopted, all bylaws enacted by the municipality must be consistent with the plan. This document was adopted in October 2017. 

An OCP Amendment is the process of legally changing an OCP Land Use Designation, policy, or other aspect of the White Rock Official Community Plan (e.g. development permit area designations). If the use, density, or building typology of a development proposal is not consistent with the OCP, you will have to apply for an OCP Amendment for that property. An OCP Amendment may be required in conjunction with a Zoning Amendment.

Please be aware that pursuant to the White Rock Planning Procedures Bylaw and Council Policy 512, the OCP amendment process is subject to special requirements. Staff recommend reviewing these documents under our Resources and Documents subpage before proceeding any further.

Zoning Amendments (Rezonings)

Each property within the City of White Rock is assigned under a zone in accordance with White Rock Zoning Bylaw, 2012, No. 2000 (as amended). This zoning bylaw establishes regulations for the use of land, buildings, and structures in the City of White Rock. It also regulates the location, height, siting, and intensity of development. Other regulations, such as parking requirements and siting exceptions, are addressed in this document.

A zoning amendment (rezoning) is the process of legally changing the zone and associated land uses and densities of a property. Rezoning can change the zoning of a property (or properties) from one designation to another; create a site-specific comprehensive development zone for complex developments and/or the amendment or discharge of a land use contract.

If the use you are proposing for your development is not permitted under the current zoning bylaw you will have to apply for a Zoning Amendment for that property. Further information is located at our Resources and Documents subpage.

Development Permits (Minor & Major)

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").

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 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:

  • 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;
  • 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; or
  • an amendment to a development permit where no variance is required.

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 subpage.

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 that meets the OCP's definition of "intensive residential development";
  • Development that meets the OCP's definition of "assisted living residences"; and
  • Development permits that require concurrent approval of variances to City bylaws;

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 subpage.

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

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

  1. 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.
  2. Public Works & 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.
  3. Re-establishment of the Streamside Protection and Enhancement Area by planting native vegetation.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 & Development Services at your earliest convenience.

Development Variance Permits

A Development Variance Permit (DVP) is a statutory tool which may be used by municipalities to vary the provisions of a land use bylaw authorized under Part 14 of the Local Government Act (e.g. the Zoning Bylaw, the Subdivision Bylaw, etc). As this permit is issued by Council, it is not bound by the requirements of 'undue hardship'.

Beyond the siting, shape, and physical dimensions of buildings and structures, DVPs may also be used to vary provisions not possible through the Board of Variance, such as modifying off-street parking requirements. A DVP, however, may not however vary the following:

  • The use or density of land;
  • A floodplain specification; or
  • A Phased Development Agreement

Further information is located at our Resources and Documents subpage.

Subdivisions

Subdivision is the legal mechanism used to create new parcels of land. The subdivision of a property or properties may include the creation of new fee-simple or bareland strata lots, airspace parcels, lot line adjustments, strata plan amendments, and strata title conversions.

The Land Title Act gives the power to regulate the subdivision of land to municipalities through an Approving Officer. The Approving Officer ensures each subdivision is evaluated with respect to the following:

  • Provincial statutes;
  • Various City bylaws policies, including (but not limited to) the City's Official Community Plan, Zoning Bylaw, and Subdivision Bylaw;
  • Public safety;
  • Floodplain construction requirements;
  • Necessary utilities, services and access/egress;
  • Environmental sensitivity; and
  • Community compatibility.

As subdivision applications have many technical requirements, please do not hesitate to contact Planning staff for more information. Additionally, further information is located at our Resources and Documents subpage.

Board of Variance Applications

A Board of Variance is an independent decision making body with limited powers, established in accordance with Part 14 of the Local Government Act. Boards of Variance can grant minor variances to Zoning Bylaw and other rulings as set out in the Act. The variance must be justified by the presence of “undue hardship”, as determined by the Board.

For more on the Board of Variance, please see the Board of Variance Committee page of the website. You can also find out more at our Resources and Documents subpage.

Tree Management Permits

A Tree Management Permit is a tool used by municipalities to regulate the cutting and/or removal of trees on private property in accordance with the Tree Management Bylaw.

For more information on Tree Management Permits, please see the Private Trees section of the Tree Management page of the website.

Sign Permits

The White Rock Sign Bylaw, 2010, No. 1923, regulates the type, placement, maintenance and repair of signs within the City. The goals of the Sign Bylaw are to:

  • Reflect the aesthetic standards and enhance the appearance and unique identity of the City;
  • Support the viability of local businesses by providing sufficient advertising opportunity;
  • Ensure that signage does not compromise pedestrian and traffic safety; and
  • Enable fair and consistent enforcement of sign regulations.

A sign permit is required for all new permanent signs, temporary signs including sandwich boards and promotional banners and the re-facing of existing signs. Further information is located at our Resources and Documents subpage.

Other Types of Applications

Please note that the City processes other types of development applications that are not discussed here, such as Liquor License Referral Applications and Temporary Use Permits.

For further information regarding submission and procedural requirements for these types of applications, please contact the City's Planning and Development Services Department - or review the relevant sections of the White Rock Planning Procedures Bylaw.

Development Planning - Inquiries and Questions

Planning staff have prepared a variety of bylaws, City plans, Council policies, and informational guides for public use at our Resources and Documents subpage. Please consider reviewing these documents before contacting staff regarding your inquiry directly.

If you cannot find your answer here, please contact Planning at 604-541-2108, or at planning@whiterockcity.ca.