Regulation redesign: simplifying rules for city building

Updated and simplified land use regulations and policies will result in more streamlined review processes.

Regulation Redesign is a comprehensive review of our land use regulations and related policy documents. The aim of this work is to:

  • Simplify and clarify land use regulations and policies to improve ease of use and clarity in order to reduce permit processing times
  • Modernize and update the rules, language, and format or land use documents; and the processes to create/amend them
  • Improve consistency among land use policies and regulations
  • Improve external and internal communication on the land use planning framework and its systems
  • Establish a robust and enduring land use framework (including regulations, policies, protocols, and procedures) that is able to adapt well into the future

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Outcomes of Regulation Redesign will be:

  • An updated Zoning and Development By-law with a user-friendly format
  • More consistent regulations across district schedules
  • More clarity on the purpose of various land use documents (for example, guidelines, bulletins) and how they relate to each other and land use regulations

What's happening

Virtual focus groups – District Schedule Prototype for the Zoning and Development By-law

October 14, 27, and 28, 2020 – We’re working on delivering a simpler Zoning and Development By-law that will make it easier for people to find and to understand land use regulations. To advance this work, we have developed a prototype of the new district schedule format. Key features include tables and diagrams and new dwelling use terms. 

The prototype is based on input from Phase 1 and 2 engagement with industry stakeholders, project advisors, the public, and City staff. 
Three online virtual focus groups were held in October to collect input on improving the user-friendliness of the Zoning and Development By-law. 

Review the summary report with the results from the focus groups  (12 MB)

Recent updates

Amendments to Zoning and Development By-law approved 

June 25, 2020 - At the public hearing, Council approved amendments to clean-up, clarify, and consolidate our land use regulations and related land use documents to make them more user-friendly. These are incremental changes towards more simplified zoning regulations. In combination with permit processing improvements, these changes will help simplify and streamline permit review.

Council enacted the amendments to the zoning regulations on July 24, 2020, and the consequential amendments to the related land use documents on September 15, 2020. The specific amendments included:

  • Organizing and consolidating information by topic and update regulations in sections 3, 4, and 5 on authorities, administration of development permits, and relaxation and discretion into separate sections
  • Clarifying when the Development Permit Board reviews development applications (no change in role or administration) and update relaxation authorities to allow both the Director of Planning and Development Permit Board to relax for unnecessary hardship
  • Adding new definition for unnecessary hardship
  • Updating terms “vary” and “relax” throughout the by-law to reflect authorities to relax and vary regulations, and moving regulations to the relevant section of district schedules
  • Consolidating regulations from district schedules that allow variance of regulations into Section 10.6 (Character House) and broaden permitted variations to further enable retention
  • Introducing new definitions for awning, balcony, enclosed balcony, deck, roof deck, canopy, covered entry, patio, porch, and verandah, and update terms throughout the by-law and various land use documents
  • Updating and improving the consistency of regulations for decks, balconies and covered entries, porches, and verandahs
  • Correcting references and errors in numbering and spelling  

Regulation redesign zoning webpages

Zoning and Development By-law
The landing page for the Zoning and Development By-law containing general information on the by-law and its functions.

Zoning and land use document library
Your single reliable source of land use regulations and policies currently in effect.

Zoning and land use amendments
Your single reliable source outlining recent changes to the City's land use by-laws, policies, guidelines, and bulletins.


Here is our process and anticipated milestones

Through out the process, we will consult with development and building industry professionals, other businesses, the general public and City staff.

  • Spring 2018 -
    winter 2019

    Project launch

    • Review regulatory framework and best practices
    • Seek feedback to identify issues with land use regulations and policies and ideas to simplify and clarify them
    • Public consultation, listening sessions, kiosk at the development and building services centre, stakeholder roundtable, pop-up events in the community
    • Report to Council with first round of regulatory amendments to clarify approval authorities, update regulations and repeal outdated land use documents
  • Winter 2019 -
    spring 2020

    Develop option and directions

    • Prioritize issues and explore options to simplify and clarify regulations based on engagement feedback
      • Develop work streams to address modernizing the Zoning and Development By-law, simplifying regulations and clarifying the land use framework
    • Report to Council with regulatory amendments to update sections 2, 10, 11 of the Zoning and Development By-law into a new modernized user-friendly format, simplify regulations, remove gendered terms and repeal outdated land use documents
    • Clarify land use framework through creation of an on-line land use document library, new document naming conventions and introduce a new user guide for the Zoning and Development By-law
  • We are here
  • Spring 2020 -
    fall 2022

    Further develop and implement solutions

    Modernize by-law structure and format

    • Develop options and prototype a user-friendly Zoning and Development By-law structure and format
    • Draft Zoning and Development By-law in a modernized format
    • Report to Council in fall 2022 with a draft reformatted Zoning and Development By-law for adoption
    • Implement the by-law and training

    Simplify and clarify regulations

    • Report to Council in spring 2020 report with amendments to the Zoning and Development By-law:
      • Introduce new definitions for balconies, porches and decks, update and improve consistency of regulations
      • Update sections 3,4, 5 to simplify and organize regulations so they are easier to find and understand
    • Report to Council in spring 2021 with amendments to the Zoning and Development By-law on height and horizontal angle of daylight regulations

    Endurance of land use framework

    • Clarify the purpose and format of land use documents (e.g. guidelines, bulletins)
    • Update protocols and procedures for developing regulations and policies
    • Improve the search-ability of land use documents
    • Update and maintain land use document library webpage

What is Zoning?

Watch the video to learn more: Zoning 101

Zoning and Development By-law

The Zoning and Development By-law 3575 establishes regulations for the development of land in the City of Vancouver.

Housing Vancouver strategy

Learn how our 10-year strategy provides a strong foundation for the future in Vancouver.