Development Permit Guidelines

The Provincial Government has provided municipal councils with the ability to regulate certain aspects of a development that are not directly addressed in the Zoning Bylaw or the Building Bylaw. The Municipal Official Community Plan describes the special conditions or objectives that justify the designation of a Development Permit Area (DPA) and specifies guidelines for how these special conditions or objectives should be addressed. For instance, for commercial development, Council can establish guidelines for the general type of exterior finish of the buildings and landscapes features, and then require that all proposals meet these guidelines. Once the council is satisfied that a proposal would satisfy all the guidelines that have been established, a Development Permit can then be issued.

A Development Permit is not a Building Permit. Once you have obtained your Development Permit, you can then apply for a Building Permit.

Getting Started 

Please review North Cowichan's Development Permit Areas to determine whether the land you wish to develop is within a DPA. DPAs are described in Appendix 3: Development Permit Areas of North Cowichan's Official Community Plan Bylaw. If the property falls within a DPA, refer to the  Guide to Development Permit Applications while preparing your proposal and filling out your Development Permit Application Form.  Where land is subject to more than one DPA designation, an applicant needs to submit only one application for the development. That application, however, must consider the requirements of each of the applicable DPAs and associated guidelines.

Which activities require a Development Permit?

A Development Permit is required for the following activites unless specifically exempted in the DPA Exemption Criteria Table [PDF - 259 KB].

  • alteration of land, disturbance of soils, including grubbing, scraping and removal of top soils
  • construction or erection of buildings and structures
  • creation of non-structural impervious or semi-pervious surfaces
  • subdivision of land

North Cowichan's Development Permit Areas

The Municipality of North Cowichan has designated the following DPAs:

How much time does the process take?

The amount of time to process a Development Permit application is largely dependent upon the complexity of the application. In addition, the time frame is affected by how well you respond to meeting the pre-requisites established by Council. On average, a Development Permit application should take 8-12 weeks to process once an application has been submitted. It must be recognized that the process could take longer, again depending upon the intricacies of the application and the developer's own timing.

Period of Validity

A development permit lapses when construction has not substantially commenced within two years of its date of issue. If your permit lapses, you must submit a new development permit application, and repeat the process.