Zoning Bylaw




Climate Action Zoning

Zoning bylaws define how specific areas of land can be used. For example, land can be zoned for residential, commercial, industrial or recreational.  Zoning bylaws can also specify the nature of these uses in more detail (eg. multi-family residential, mixed residential) and regulate characteristics such as lot size, placement, density and height of structures.

Zoning shapes smart land use by implementing sustainable land use policies set out in the Official Community Plan and Regional Growth Strategy. Local government authority and influence in the rezoning process (see Leveraging the Rezoning Process) is a powerful tool and can be used to take climate change action. Nearly all of British Columbia’s communities use zoning, although some exceptions do exist.  Local government’s core zoning authority is set out in the Local Government Act, Section 903.

Climate Action through Zoning

Zoning can play a strong role in developing a compact and complete community, to the extent that directly impacts GHG emission and energy use in the following ways:

  • Less GHG emissions from transportation:  Zoning for concentrated development and mixed land uses means shorter distances among residents’ destinations – work, home, shop, play – that are accessible by walking, cycling and transit.  
  • Less GHG emissions and lower energy requirements by buildings:  Compact and connected built form uses less energy, and facilitates alternative energy systems. 
  • Creating incentives for green development:  Zoning can include density bonuses which encourage good practices and design by using incentives.

Additional Benefits

In addition to direct climate benefits, co-benefits of zoning for complete and compact land use are:

  • Strengthened local economy
  • Convenient access to goods and services
  • Improved human health through reduced air pollution and more active transportation
  • Reduced infrastructure costs and lessened property tax burden
  • Increased housing choices that meet changing demographics and demand
  • Cut costs on rising energy expenditures

For further information on benefits of compact land use, see Land Use.


Specific zoning strategies to cut energy use and emissions include:

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