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

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 to improve the format and structure of current district schedules. Key features include clearer land use terms and a new organization of zoning information using tables and diagrams. 

The prototype is based on input from Phase 1 and 2 engagement with industry stakeholders, project advisors, the public, and City staff. 

Join us for one of the online virtual focus groups

This is an opportunity to provide feedback to improve the user-friendliness of the by-law. While the technical discussions rely on the user’s familiarity of the document, these session are open to everyone.

Register for a focus group:

  Additional session added due to high demand. Space is limited, register now.

Amendments to Zoning and Development By-law approved 

At the public hearing on June 25, 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.

On July 24, 2020, Council enacted the amendments to the zoning regulations, and September 15, Council gave final approval to the consequential amendments to the related land use documents. The specific amendments include:

  • Organize and consolidate 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
  • Clarify 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
  • Add new definition for unnecessary hardship
  • Update terms “vary” and “relax” throughout the by-law  to reflect authorities to relax and vary regulations, and move regulations to the relevant section of district schedules
  • Consolidate regulations from district schedules that allow variance of regulations into Section 10.6 (Character House) and broaden permitted variations to further enable retention
  • Introduce 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
  • Update and improve consistency of regulations for decks, balconies and covered entries, porches, and verandahs
  • Correct references and errors in numbering and spelling  

For more information on the changes, read the report (587 KB) 

View the redline version of the amendments (12 MB)

Read the June 25 Public Hearing minutes (129 KB)

Recent updates

Regulation redesign project updates

Open house and pop-ups February 19-27

Thank you to everyone who dropped into the open house and everyone who talked with staff at a pop-up event and for sending in your comments online. Your comments are invaluable and will be used to improve user-friendliness of the land use by-law, clarify regulations to provide more certainty, and making regulations more consistent so they are easier to understand.

Stay connected and receive project updates by signing up on our list serve. 

View the information boards  (1.3 MB)

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

In each phase, we will consult with development and building industry professionals, builders, the broader public and staff.

  • Spring -
    winter 2018

    Phase 1: Project Start Up

    What we are doing:

    • Review regulatory framework and best practices
    • Public consultation, listening sessions, kiosk at the development and building services centre, stakeholder roundtable, pop-up events in the community
    • Seek feedback to identify issues and ideas of the current land use zoning and development regulatory framework

    Who we’ll consult with:

    • Development and building industry professionals, builders, and the broader public
  • Spring 2019

    Phase 2: Develop options and directions

  • What we will do:

    • Prioritize issues and explore options based on findings in Phase 1
    • Report to Council with options and directions

    Who we'll consult with:

    • Development and building industry professionals, builders, and the broader public

  • Fall 2019-
    winter 2020

    Research, development, update regulations

    What we will do:

    • Develop guiding principles for new regulations
    • Create definitions for balconies, porches and decks, update and harmonize regulations
    • Develop options for a user-friendly zoning by-law format
    • Clarify the purpose and format of land use documents (for example, guidelines, bulletins)
    • Improve coordination of policy development and implementation through improved tracking
  • Spring 2020


    What we will do:

    • Report to Council with updated regulations and a recommended option for a user-friendly zoning by-law
    • Prototype and test new by-law structure and format
    • Begin drafting new zoning by-law
    • Ongoing regulatory updates to simplify and clarify regulations
    • Establish protocols and procedures for developing regulations and land use policies

    Public engagement opportunities

  • We are here
  • Winter 2021


    What we will do:

    • Report to Council with regulatory updates
    • Continue drafting and refining new zoning by-law
    • Develop implementation plan for introducing new by-law
    • Communicate protocols and procedures for developing regulations and policies

    Public engagement opportunities

  • Winter 2021


    What we will do:

    • Introduce new by-law: education and training programs

    Public engagement opportunities

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.