City of North Vancouver begins planning process to overhaul zoning policies

Apr 19 2023, 4:25 am

The municipal “bible” regulating land use and building developments within the City of North Vancouver will be completely overhauled.

Earlier this month, North Vancouver City Council provided City staff with the green light to launch a two-year planning process to overhaul the zoning bylaw.

There will be a new emphasis on focusing on optimal building design, specifically with how the building shapes the public realm — how structures tie in with the street and urban fabric of the city.

Some of the key outcomes from changing the zoning bylaw include improving sustainability, livability, and housing tenure diversity, as well as the alignment with other municipal policies and strategies, including the official community plan.

Through the process, there could be a realignment of vehicle parking supply requirements for buildings, with a greater emphasis on active transportation and public transit moving forward. There could also be greater consideration for accommodating the growing uptake of electric-battery vehicles.

Other policy changes could potentially create a “more resilient and adaptable zoning bylaw” that carries less rigidity, and instead acts like a living document to “respond to emerging and future needs.”

Many municipal governments have a highly complex and convoluted zoning bylaw, especially when many amendments over the decades are simply tacked on to the document. In addition to changing policies and considerations, the zoning bylaw will be significantly simplified so that it can be better understood for not only planners, builders, developers, and architects, but also the general public. There will be less text and technical planning jargon, and instead more layman’s terms and visuals with drawings and diagrams, along with interactive online formats.

Example of the existing zoning bylaw format:

north vancouver city zoning bylaw example existing

Example of the existing zoning bylaw format with heavy text and jargon. (City of North Vancouver)

Example of the future simplified, user-friendly zoning bylaw format:

north vancouver city zoning bylaw example future

Example of the potential simplified user-friendly zoning bylaw format with more visuals and less jargon. (City of North Vancouver)

By making the zoning bylaw more easy to understand and use, this will help streamline development approvals, according to the City’s rationale for the changes.

Few municipal governments take the path of overhauling the zoning bylaw given the daunting challenges and complexities of doing so, especially for large jurisdictions. However, the City of North Vancouver is amongst the region’s smallest municipalities, with a land area of just 12 sq km and a population of about 60,000 residents.

But there are growing calls from the provincial government and from within municipal governments to overhaul and simplify zoning and the application processes as much as possible as one of the measures to speed up new housing supply.

Initial consultation with the public and stakeholders will take place between April 2023 and November 2023, with the intent of building up awareness of the planning process and gathering initial input.

Between Fall 2023 and Summer 2024, the draft new zoning bylaw will be created, and there will be another major round of consultation.

Then between Summer and Fall 2024, the draft zoning bylaw will be finalized for City Council’s review and full approval, and an interactive online zoning bylaw will be created.

The entire planning process is expected to cost $375,000. City staff working on this project will partner with consultancy firm Urban Strategies, which has experience working with municipalities to produce modern form-based zoning bylaws.

The City of North Vancouver’s first zoning bylaw was first created in 1953, and then replaced in 1967. It saw minor amendments in a 1995 update.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

+ News
+ Real Estate
+ Development
+ Politics
+ City Hall
+ Urbanized