A Development Permit is a binding legal document that authorizes development on a specific parcel of land. In the Town of Comox a Development Permit is required for most development projects located within Development Permit Areas (See the Development Permit Area Maps for their exact locations and the Development Permit Area descriptions in the Official Community Plan). Development Permits contain conditions to ensure the development project conforms to the purpose of each Development Permit Area. A Development Permit cannot alter the use or density of a property and their conditions typically relate to the form and character and environmental regulations of the Town’s DPAs.
If you have any questions regarding Development Permits, when a Development Permit is required, or the Development Permitting Process please see the Application Process and Forms (BROKEN LINK) or contact the Planning Department either in person at Town Hall or by phone at (250) 339-1118.
A Development Permit Area (DPA) is a set of development regulations that affect a specific area. In Comox Development Permit Areas are included as part of the OCP. In British Columbia, section 919.1 of the Local Government Act allows municipalities to regulate Development Permit Areas for the following purposes:
- Establishment of objectives for the form and character of intensive residential, commercial and industrial development;
- Establishment of objectives to promote energy and water conservation and a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions;
- Protection of natural environments, ecosystems and biodiversity;
- Protection of farmland;
- Revitalization of commercial areas.
It is important to note that the Local Government Act prohibits municipalities from using Development Permit Areas to regulate the land use or density of a property. If you have a development project that requires a change to the property’s land use or density an OCP Amendment or Rezoning Application may be necessary. Please contact the Planning Department at (250) 339-1118 if you have any questions about the approvals that may be necessary for your development project.
In the new OCP the Town of Comox established 16 Development Permit Areas (see the Development Permit Area Maps (PDF) for their exact locations) with special objectives to support the purposes listed above.
During the OCP process, Town residents expressed a strong desire to preserve the Town’s existing form and character, including its marine heritage. This lead to the creation of six Development Permit Areas designed to regulate the form and character of development projects. They include building and landscape design guidelines, that regulate elements including building massing, architectural features, colour pallets and finishing materials, to ensure high-quality developments that will fit into their surrounding neighbourhoods and become positive assets to the community at large. In addition to the building and landscape design elements of form and character DPAs, they also contain guidelines to encourage energy and water conservation including the support of green technology like solar panels for electricity or geothermal systems for heating.
DPAs concerned with form and character include Development Permit Areas #1 – 6:
- DPA #1 Downtown Comox
- DPA #2 Ground Oriented Infill
- DPA #3 General Multi-Family
- DPA #4 Mixed Use: Commercial Residential
- DPA #5 Commercial: Neighbourhood and Tourist
- DPA #6 Light Industrial
Please consult the Official Community Plan DPA Maps (BROKEN LINK) for the exact locations of each DPA. A detailed description of DPA guidelines can be found in the Comox Official Community Plan Bylaw, 2011. If you have any questions regarding the locations or requirements of form and character DPAs please contact the Planning Department at (250) 339-1118 or in person at Town Hall.
In addition to form and character DPAs, the Town of Comox also developed a specific set of DPAs to protect the natural environment, biodiversity and sensitive ecosystems that are an important feature of life in the Town. The DPAs include provisions to protect the riparian areas of Brooklyn Creek and Lazo Marsh (DPA 7), Bald Eagle and Great Blue Heron nesting sites and perching trees (DPA 10), existing wildlife corridors (DPA 11) and Garry Oak Habitat (DPA 12). The full list of environmental DPAs and their locations can be found in the Official Community Plan Bylaw, 2011 and the Official Community Plan DPA Maps
Each environmental DPA has a unique set of requirements, depending on its objectives. For example, DPA #14 Marine Foreshore protects the sensitive ecosystems of the Courtenay River estuary, Kye Bay and Point Holmes. In this DPA a development permit is required for any alteration of the land – including vegetation – construction or major alternations of a primary building – including decks – and the construction of any accessory buildings. For the guidelines and requirements of environmental DPAs please consult the Official Community Plan Bylaw, 2011 (PDF) and the Official Community Plan DPA Maps (PDF).
While the purposes of most environmental DPAs are to protect and preserve the natural environment, the Town created DPA #13 Hazardous Areas to protect developments from potentially hazardous environmental conditions including flooding, erosion and unstable slopes. If a property is located within DPA #13 a development permit is required for any alteration of the land – including vegetation – to protect against landslides and ensure buildings remain safe and habitable. Please see the Official Community Plan Bylaw, 2011 and the Official Community Plan DPA Maps for the location and requirements for this and all other Town of Comox DPAs. If you think your property may be in DPA #13 Hazardous Areas please contact the Planning Department (either in person at Town Hall or by phone at (250) 339-1118) regarding a development permit prior to commencing any type of onsite works.
If your project is located within a Development Permit Area, you will need a Development Permit before subdividing your property or applying for a building permit. It is recommended that you contact the Planning Department (either in person at Town Hall or by phone at (250) 339-1118) to discuss your project before submitting a development permit application to ensure your application is complete.
In addition to the documents listed above, you should review Landslide and Flooding Hazards for information regarding geotechnical report requirements. If you have any questions regarding whether or not a geotechnical report will be required for your project, please contact the planning department prior to submitting your application.
The development permit application process usually takes between 3 and 4 months from the time a complete submission is received. Complex applications may require additional time. Submitting a complete application is an important part of increased processing times and it is recommended that you contact planning staff prior to submitting an application to ensure any complex issues are identified.
The development permit application fee varies depending on the value of the proposed development, or if the application is for subdivision only by the number of lots created. A full fee schedule can be found here: Application Fee Schedule (PDF).
Development Permits can be issued by either Council or the Municipal Planner. For form and character Development Permit Areas (Development Permit Areas 1 – 6), see the Official Community Plan DPA Maps for exact locations of each area.
The permit is approved and issued by Council. The Municipal Planner has the authority to approve and issue environmental development permits (for projects located in Development Permit Areas 7 – 16. See the Official Community Plan DPA Maps for exact locations of each area). A detailed Application Flow Chart is included in the Development Permit Application Form.
The Town issues a public notification of Development Permit applications that includes details on how Comox residents can provide comments on the application. This includes information on how residents can register to appear as a delegation at a Regular Council Meeting and the deadline for submitting written comments to Council. In accordance with the Town of Comox Development Application Procedures Bylaw, 1996 (PDF), written notifications are mailed to all property owners and tenants within a 75-meter radius of the proposed project. For more information regarding the public consultation process and how Town residents can comment on a Development Permit application, please contact the Planning Department at (250) 339-1118.