Development Permit Area Guidelines





Smart Site and Building Design

DP guidelines are an opportunity to strongly encourage energy efficiency in new development by mindfully designing landscaping and buildings to allow light to penetrate living spaces in winter, and protect spaces from hot sunlight in the summer. / picture courtesy District of Saanich.A Development Permit Area (DPA) is a set of development regulations pertaining to a specific area as specified by the Official Community Plan. Any proposed building and subdivision within a DPA requires the issuance of a development permit. The authority for local governments to establish DPAs is set out in the Local Government Act, Sections 919.1 and 920.


Read the Guide

Development Permit Areas for Climate Action.

The purpose of this guide is to help local governments use their DPA authority to conserve energy, conserve water and/or reduce GHG emissions. The guide is intended primarily for local governments and their planning staff. The content of the guide may also benefit others involved in land-use planning and development, including developers, builders, architects, landscape architects and planning consultants.

The purpose of a Development permit area (DPA) may be to:

  • protect development from hazardous conditions;
  • protect agricultural land;
  • protect the natural environment, its ecosystems and biological diversity;
  • revitalize an area in which a commercial use is permitted;
  • establish objectives for the form and character of intensive residential development, and/or to establish objectives for the form and character of commercial, industrial or multi-family residential development.
  • establish objectives to promote energy conservation, water conservation, and reduce greenhouse gases.   

The flexibility of DPA guidelines allow Council to fairly exercise its discretion in granting or refusing a permit on a case by case basis, while providing objective principles to guide Council's conditions for approving or refusing a DP application. [1]

Complementary Measures

  • DPAs can be developed through an Official Community Plan and Neighbourhood Plan.
  • DPAs work in coordination with a Zoning Bylaw to shape development on the scale of a parcel or development site.   Comprehensive Development Zones can be quite specific, working well in tandem with DPAs.
  • Development Permit Areas can stipulate conditions for Density Bonusing.
  • Standards and designs for streets (e.g., "Complete Streets" policies) specified in Subdivision and Development Control Bylaw must be consistent with DPAs objectives.
  • The key objectives of the DPAs can be represented in a Sustainability Checklist.

Community Examples

See Case studies in Development Permit Areas for Climate Action:

 [Use the tab above to learn HOW to reduce emissions with this tool.]

[1] Rutherford, Susan, 2006Green Buildings Guide. West Coast Environmental Law