Planning and Development

The Development Services Department provides service in the areas of land use planning, including: policy and plan implementation, Development Permits, Urban Forest Strategy and Tree Protection, SignageSecondary Suites, Subdivision, Development Cost Charges, Zoning, and Building Inspection.


Every property in the City of Duncan falls under a zoning category, which is defined in the Zoning Bylaw. Each zoning category specifies the activities that can take place on the properties within it. Zoning categories also specify maximum floor area and height of buildings, minimum distances between buildings and property lines, the amount of off-street parking required, and other factors of land use. The way cities and neighbourhoods look and feel is a largely a result of zoning. Zoning Bylaws are developed and adopted to implement the objectives, goals, and policies of the Official Community Plan (OCP), which is the document that guides decisions by Council about the use and development of land.

Zoning ensures that specific types of land use (commercial/residential) occur in appropriate areas, and that the use on any property does not conflict with land uses on surrounding properties.

To view a specific section of the Zoning Bylaw, select one of the links shown below to link to the page for that topic.

City of Duncan Zoning Bylaw 1540, 1988 (with Amendments to January 4, 2016)


General Regulations

Creation and Definitions of Zones

Residential Zones

R-1 Zone – Urban Residential

R-2 Zone – Suburban Residential

RM-1 Zone – Low Density Multi-Family Residential

RM-3 Zone – Medium Density  (3 storey) Residential

RM-4 Zone – Medium Density (4 storey) Multi-Family Residential

RM-6 Zone – High Density (6 storey) Residential Commercial

RM-6-A Zone – High Density (6 storey) Residential Commercial

Commercial Zones

C-1 Zone – General Commercial

C-1-B Zone – General Commercial / Micro Brewery

C-2 Zone – Office Commercial

C-3 Zone – Service Commercial

C-4 Zone – Tourist Recreational Commercial

C-5 Zone – Local Commercial

Park and Institutional Zones

P-1 Zone – Institutional

P-2 Zone – Parks and Recreation

Area, Shape and Dimensions of Parcels

Zoning maps show the zoning category for every property in Duncan and the zoning bylaw contains development regulations for each zoning category. You can review both online or at the City’s Planning & Development Services Department at City Hall.

Zoning Bylaw Amendments (Rezoning)

Before any property can be developed (e.g. by constructing a new building, or by changing the land use), the owner should first check the current zoning regulations for that property. If the proposed development is not permitted under existing zoning, the property owner – or an agent of the property owner – can apply for a zoning amendment. A zoning amendment can legally change either the zoning category of a property or the zoning regulations within a zone.

When a property owner or developer proposes to develop the property in a way that is outside the use or density provisions of a particular zone (i.e.; proposing a multi-unit condo building in a single family zone), an amendment to the zone is necessary as it is considered a change in land use and/or allowable density. This change in land use requires the approval of Council and is a formal process that includes a Public Hearing, which gives the community an opportunity to provide input.

For a zoning amendment to be considered by Council, it must be demonstrated that the amendment is supported by objectives, goals, and policies contained within the OCP. For example, an amendment for an industrial use within a single family neighbourhood zone wouldn’t be supported. If it’s not supported by the OCP, Council would not be able to support the amendment to the Zoning Bylaw. In that case Council could propose an amendment to the OCP, but that’s a different process. For more information on OCP amendments, please contact the Planning Department at or 250-746-6126.

Rezoning Application Process

Pre-Application Meeting

Prior to considering moving forward with an application to rezone a property, a meeting with Staff is required. During this meeting Staff will be able to discuss the scope of the project and provide you with a range of goals and policies within the Official Community Plan, which must be considered, a timeline, and a checklist of items, which must be provided as part of a complete application. Once you have a complete Zoning Amendment Application it may be submitted along with the application fees to the City of Duncan.

Application Review

The Planning & Development Services department circulates your application among appropriate departments and agencies for an initial review. Once this review is complete and comments and requirements are received, a comprehensive letter containing this necessary information will be provided to you.

Committee of the Whole Review

At their first opportunity (and based upon agreed to timelines) Staff will present your application to the Committee of the Whole. The Committee will discuss the project and provide recommendations to Council.

Council Review

Following the presentation to the Committee of the Whole, Staff will again present your application at a Council meeting and reiterate the Committee of the Whole’s recommendation. Should Council choose to support the application they may give 1st and 2nd reading to the Bylaw and direct Staff to prepare the application to proceed to a Public Hearing.

Public Hearing

The Public Hearing is an opportunity for the community to provide comments and feedback directly to Council. At this meeting Council listens to community members and, once this portion of the meeting is completed, tables discussion prior to giving 3rd reading to the bylaw.

Final Decision

Council gives consideration to the information, policy analysis and recommendation provided by Staff, the recommendation provided by the Committee of the Whole, and input from the Community to make a decision to give 3rd reading and, in so doing, allows the application and bylaw to proceed to the next Council meeting where Council may provide 4th and final reading (adoption) of the bylaw. If the Zoning Amendment Bylaw is adopted by Council, the use of the property must be in conformance with the newly adopted zoning regulations.

If you would like to submit a Rezoning Application and would like more information about land use and development please contact the Planning Department at 250-746-6126.

Prior to proceeding with the development of the property, a Development Permit may be required, as well as a Building Permit.

Development Permit Areas

The Local Government Act of BC, Section 488, gives local governments the authority to designate Development Permit Areas (DPA) within an Official Community Plan. These DPAs may be created to establish building form and character or intensive residential development within a specific area. DPAs may also be created for protection of the natural environment, promote energy conservation and the reduction of greenhouse gases. Each Development Permit Area has corresponding guidelines which are the guiding principles of all new development within each specific DPA. When a development is within a specific DPA (or within multiple DPAs) it is required that the development meet specific requirements prior to proceeding to a Building Permit.

The City of Duncan’s Official Community Plan has 6 designated Development Permit Areas as follows:

Development Permit Area Regulation Objective Development Permit Requirements
Multi-Family Residential Form and Character; Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions Checklist
Downtown  Form and Character; Revitalization; Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions Checklist
Highway Corridor Form and Character; Revitalization; Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emission Checklist
Other Commercial Areas Form and Character; Revitalization; Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emission Checklist
Natural Environment Protection of the Natural Environment Checklist
Hazard Lands Protection of Development from Hazardous Conditions (i.e. floods) Checklist

In addition to the above DPAs the entire area within the City of Duncan is established as a Development Approval Information Area, which gives the City the authority to request additional information or requirements (above and beyond those of the DPA guidelines) to mitigate specific conditions or effects of development.

If you would like to know more or believe your project may require a Development Permit please contact the Planning Department at 250-746-6126 for guidance to help you navigate through the process.

Development Variance Permits

A Development Variance Permit is a process by which a property owner or developer (authorized agent) may request to vary the provisions of a regulatory bylaw such as a Zoning Bylaw, Parking Bylaw, or Subdivision Bylaw. Regulations are generally intended to shape development or the use of land but there are often situations where strict adherence to a bylaw makes the development unreasonably difficult or sometimes not possible. In these circumstances a Development Variance Permit application may be submitted and it is Council’s discretion as to whether or not the application is approved. Development Variance Permits cannot vary the use or density of land. The only way to change the use of land or increase density is by way of rezoning the property to another zone to accommodate the use.

If you would like to know more about the Development Variance Permits please contact the Planning Department at 250-746-6126 for more information and guidance to help you navigate through the process.


Prior to starting any stage of your project, including erecting signage, you must obtain a permit by submitting a Sign Permit Application. Signs that do not follow City regulations may result in signs being impounded and/or fines being issued. For more information, view the Sign Bylaw,  Sign Permit Guide or contact the Planning Department at 250-746-6126.