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.

Draft Cairnsmore Sustainable Neighbourhood Plan – Posted for Review and Comment

The draft Cairnsmore Sustainable Neighbourhood Plan is available for public review and feedback. Please visit to view the draft plan and complete a feedback form, or contact


Every property in the City of Duncan falls under a zoning category, which is defined in the Zoning Bylaw No. 3166, 2017. 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 No. 3166, 2017, select one of the links shown below to link to the page for that topic.

City of Duncan Zoning Bylaw No. 3166, 2017

Zoning Map

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 the Zoning Map 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.  For additional information on Zoning Amendments, please refer to the Zoning Amendment Application Guide.

Zoning Bylaw Rewrite

The current Zoning Bylaw No. 3166, 2017 was adopted in 2018. Within the new Zoning Bylaw, the entire array of zones and their associated land uses have been revised to be more consistent with the vision of the OCP and other City policies. Please visit the Zoning Bylaw Rewrite page for more information.

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 erecting signage, property owners should consult the Sign Bylaw No. 3095 (Consolidated) to determine if a Sign Permit is required.  Sign Permits can be obtained by filling out a Sign Permit Application and submitting it to City Hall along with the required permit fee listed within.  Signs that do not follow City regulations may result in signs being impounded and/or fines being issued. For more information, contact the Planning Department at 250-746-6126.