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Development Permits

What is a Development Permit Area?

Development Permit Areas are areas identified in Official Community Plans that the community wishes to protect or enhance, such as natural environmental features and farmland. Development Permit Areas also protect development from hazardous conditions and establish design, lighting, and layout features for some residential and commercial areas. If your property is within a Development Permit Area, a development permit may be required prior to undertaking any development activity such as soil disturbance, vegetation removal, land alteration, or subdivision.

If you would like to find out whether your property is within a Development Permit Area, please access the RDNMap here. Alternatively, Current Planning staff can help you find out if your property is within a Development Permit Area and whether a development permit is required.

What is a Development Permit?

A development permit is an authorization to conduct certain work within a Development Permit Area. A development permit differs from a building permit and a building permit may also be required prior to commencing construction. A development permit will regulate the development of the property and authorizes only those works as approved in the permit including siting of buildings and structures, removal of vegetation, alteration of land and, in some circumstances, architectural design. If required, a development permit must be issued prior to making a building permit application. For information on the building permit application process

Who makes the decision?

The Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) Board approves development permit applications. However, under certain circumstances, the Board delegates this authority to the General Manager of Strategic & Community Development. Current Planning staff can advise you who will be considering your application. The Current Planning department makes recommendations to the Board and to the General Manager of Strategic & Community Development, as appropriate.

What does it cost?

The following fees are based on the type and scale of development being proposed:
  1. for a development permit, $200
  2. for a multiple dwelling unit development, $400 plus $50 per dwelling unit;
  3. for a commercial development, $400 plus $1 per square metre of commercial floor space; and
  4. for an industrial development, $400 plus $1 per square metre of gross floor area.
Where a development permit is being considered for approval concurrently with an amendment application, the fee is $200. If there is a variance requested, the fee is $400.

Before you apply...

Prior to submitting a development permit application, it is recommended that the property owner gather as much information as possible regarding their property and their development proposal (e.g. legal description, building drawings, site surveys, biophysical assessments, etc.). It is strongly recommended that you contact the Current Planning department to discuss your proposal, as the planner's advice can save you significant time and effort. Also, the information required as a result of Board adoption or amendment of policies and bylaws may change from time to time.

If a variance to a zoning bylaw is required as part of the development permit proposal, such variances may be considered as part of the development permit application. The Board has adopted "Board Policy B1.5 Development Variance Permit, Development Permit with Variance and Floodplain Exemption Application Evaluation" which sets out evaluation criteria to be used in the consideration of development permit applications with variances proposed. A copy of the policy can be obtained from Current Planning staff or on the RDN website linked here.

Development Permit Process

Development Permit Process The length of the development permit process depends on the complexity of the application, the timing of the application submission, and the submission of a complete application. Please refer to the steps below for further information on the development permit process.

Certain development permits may be issued under delegated authority by the General Manager of Strategic & Community Development as per "Regional District of Nanaimo Delegation of Authority Bylaw 1759, 2017". If any variances are being requested or if the development permit cannot be issued under delegated authority, the Electoral Area Services Committee (EASC) and the Board must approve the application. Staff should be contacted to determine whether or not a permit can be approved under delegated authority.

Step 1 - Consult with staff and obtain an application

Contact the Current Planning department to confirm the type of application required, and to review the submission requirements. If a variance to a zoning bylaw is required as part of the development proposal, such variances may be considered as part of the development permit application.

Step 2 - Submit an application

Upon submission of a development permit application along with all required information and application fee(s), a member of the Current Planning staff will be assigned to the file. Applications are assigned in the order they are received.

Step 3 - Application review by Current Planning staff

The planner assigned to the file will review the application submission, and will contact the applicant if any additional information is required to process the application. Please refer to the "Regional District of Nanaimo Impact Assessment Bylaw No. 1165, 1999" and the "Regional District of Nanaimo Development Approval Procedures and Notification Bylaw No. 1432, 2005" for information on what may be required to support an application. Once all information has been received, the application will be evaluated, a report will be prepared, and a recommendation will go to the EASC or to the General Manager of Strategic & Community Development (if the approval of the application is able to be delegated).

Step 4 - Review by EASC and Board or General Manager of Strategic & Community Development

Following the EASC's review of the proposed development permit, the EASC will forward its recommendation to the Board for consideration and approval. If the development permit proposes a variance to a bylaw, Current Planning staff will notify property owners within the area and any interested person will be given the opportunity to comment on the application. At the regular Board meeting, a resolution must be passed by the Board to approve and authorize issuance of the development permit. The EASC and the Board meet monthly, with the exception of in August and December. The EASC and Board agendas can be found on the RDN website linked here. A decision by the Board is final.

If the application is able to be issued under delegated authority, the General Manager of Strategic & Community Development will review the proposal and determine whether to approve and authorize issuance of the development permit.

Step 5 - If the development permit is approved...

Once the development permit has been approved either by the Board or by the General Manager of Strategic & Community Development, the applicant will be required to meet any conditions outlined in the development permit prior to its issuance by Current Planning staff. Once all conditions have been met and the development permit is in place, the required building permits may be applied for through the Building Inspection department. The work approved by the development permit must be substantially started within two years of the date of the permit's issuance or it will lapse and a new permit will be required before the work can occur. Once the work is completed, the development permit is registered on the title of the property.

If the development permit is denied under delegated authority by the General Manager of Strategic & Community Development...

Under "Regional District of Nanaimo Delegation of Authority Bylaw 1759, 2017", an applicant who wishes to have a decision reconsidered by the Board must apply for reconsideration as per the Bylaw. A copy of the Request for Reconsideration Form can be obtained from the Current Planning department or on the RDN website linked here.