How rezoning works

Vancouver regulates the use and development of property in the city through zoning.

The city is divided up into many zoning districts. Each district has its own set of bylaws and schedules which dictate:

  • The City's objective for the district
  • Land use regulations (maximum heights, setbacks, floor areas, and so on) 
  • Other aspects of development for the zone

Some districts have accompanying Council-approved guidelines for development applications, while other districts are governed by an Official Development Plan (ODP).

Applying for rezoning

Anyone who wants to develop a property in a way that does not comply with the regulations for the zone where that property is located needs to apply for rezoning.

All rezoning applications are reviewed by Planning staff, and are reported to City Council with a recommendation of support or refusal. 

Council makes the decision either to approve the rezoning application, or refuse it.

Three types of rezoning

Rezoning of a property can be done in three ways:

1. Create a custom, site-specific zone (CD-1)

When someone wants to develop a specific site or area in a way that does not fit with the current zoning for that area, they can apply to have the zoning changed to Comprehensive Development District (CD-1).

CD-1 zoning is tailor made for the specific site, and is intended to accommodate special uses or forms of development.

As part of this rezoning, Council may establish certain conditions that the developer has to meet (legal agreements or design guidelines, for instance), either before the rezoning is granted, or a development permit will be issued.

There are over 400 sites in Vancouver that are regulated by custom designed CD-1 bylaws.

2.Change the zoning of an area from one standard zoning district to another

Changing the zoning of an area from one district to another (from RS-1 to RS-5, for instance), is called a "plan amendment."

Plan amendments generally occur as part of the process of implementing a Community Plan or related planning program in the area.

There are rare instances when an individual property will be rezoned from one district to another, but that is usually because of an anomaly in the existing zoning boundaries, or the property has unique features.

3. Change the rules about what is permitted within a specific zone

Changing the rules that regulate what is permitted within any zoning area (including an official development plan or CD-1) is called a "text amendment."

A substantial change to a development proposed for a CD-1 district may also require an application to amend the regulations in the CD-1 bylaw.