What is a Development Permit Area and its purpose?

    Local governments have the authority to designate development permit areas (DPAs). These areas recognize locations that need "special treatment for certain purposes including the protection of development from hazards, establishing objectives for form and character in specified circumstances, or revitalization of a commercial use area" (BC Government/Development Permit Areas).

    As described by the province, the eligible purposes of a development permit area are:

    • Protection of:
      • The natural environment, its ecosystems and biological diversity
      • Development from hazardous conditions
      • Farming
    • Revitalization of an area in which a commercial use is permitted
    • Establishment of objectives for the form and character of:
      • Intensive residential development
      • Commercial, industrial or multi-family residential development
      • Development in a resort region
    • Promotion of:
      • Energy conservation
      • Water conservation
      • Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

    Local governments may designate a development permit area in an official community plan. The plan must describe the special conditions or objectives that justify the designation.

    The local government must also specify guidelines for how proposed development in that area can address the special conditions or objectives. As such, the draft OCP includes the following when describing DPAs:

    • General requirements
    • General exemptions
    • Intent - a summary of why the DPA exists
    • Designation - where the DPA applies
    • Objectives - clarifies the purpose and goals of the DPA
    • Exemptions - outlines when, in addition to the general exemptions, the DPA does not apply
    • Guidelines - best practices to follow the DPA

    While these guidelines may be specified by zoning bylaw, the OCP Advisory Committee heard early in the review process that more clarity and upfront communication are needed on what is expected when developing in Sooke. By including greater DPA details in the OCP, the intent is to respond to this need.

    Please explain more about the 15-metre setback requirement and when it applies - or does not apply.

    DPA #3 provides details on developing within the foreshore area (pp. 187-190) with a guideline to "maintain a 15-metre setback landward of the high water mark that is to remain free of development, buildings, and structures (p.188).

    DPA #3 aims to respond to public feedback to steward the natural environment and preserve the waterfront. With this addition, concerns about DPA #3 impacting a property owner's ability to maintain their property, have been expressed. 

    Related to the foreshore, a development permit is required prior to land alteration, subdivision, or building construction UNLESS EXEMPT on parcels adjacent to the shoreline (Figure 16, pp.194-195).

    To help clarify, more specific scenarios where DPA 3 does NOT apply include:

    • Where construction value is less than $25,000.
    • When the development is for the purpose of constructing:
      • A single-family dwelling;
      • A duplex where the lot size is 750m2 or greater;
      • An accessory building, building addition; or
      • A farm building
    • The planting of native species trees, shrubs or ground covers for the purpose of enhancing the habitat values and/or soil stability within the development permit area.
    • Subdivisions creating four or fewer additional lots which are not further subdividable under the applicable zoning regulation, lot line adjustment, parcel consolidation, or a subdivision for a park or heritage protection and that are not a presently unaltered forest parcel.

    Additional general exemptions for development permit areas are found on pages 178-179 of the OCP Bylaw No. 800.  

    Where DPA #3 DOES apply is in scenarios such as large-scale developments, i.e. subdivisions greater than four lots or new commercial development. 

    In short, the intent of DPA 3 is "to protect and preserve the natural features and function of the Foreshore Area from the impact of residential, commercial and industrial development" (p. 187). More specifically, the objectives of this DPA include:

    • Protect the ecological function of marine shorelines, foreshore and the adjacent upland.
    • Preserve, restore and manage foreshore areas as a public resource for their environmental, traditional, cultural, spiritual, and recreational value.
    • Protect against flooding, erosion and potential sea level rise in ways that do not lead to loss of environmental and recreational values.

    Tell me more about net-zero buildings and local applications.

    As of May 1, 2023, the BC Building Code (the Code) requires 20%-better energy efficiency for most new buildings in B.C. This is equivalent to Step 3 for Part 9 buildings ("simple" buildings such as a single-family home" and Step 2 for Part 3 buildings ("complex" buildings such as a shopping mall). 

    To help reach our emission reduction targets, the District of Sooke advanced the adoption of Step 3 in January 2022. While, at this time, the District does not have a record of any net-zero passive building permits being issued, some Part 9 dwelling units have been constructed in Sooke to Step 4 which is in advance of the 2027 implementation date required by the province. 

    Overall, the Province "has committed to taking incremental steps to increase energy-efficiency requirements in the BC Building Code and to make buildings net-zero energy ready by 2032 in line with CleanBC goals" (Government of BC/Energy Efficiency).

    Locally, Council is looking to receive a presentation from a subject matter expert on net-zero buildings in Fall 2023. 

    Of related note regionally, Saanich approved an approach to implementing the new BC Zero Carbon Step Code for new construction at their April 24, 2023 Council meeting. 

    Please elaborate on the extension of the boardwalk/waterfront trail and what this means for waterfront property owners?

    OCP Bylaw No. 800 refers to the Parks and Trails Master Plan, informed by public consultation during plan development, mentions public waterfront access using trails and a potential boardwalk. The reality of constructing a boardwalk, as stated by the Mayor on June 19, 2023, is a long-term process - if at all possible.

    Waterfront property owners are not being asked to build a boardwalk upon the adoption of OCP Bylaw No. 800. The ability to acquire land to construct a future trail is formalized through a rezoning process, generally meaning a waterfront property owner has sold their land to a developer, and the District is implementing the goals of the Parks and Trails Master Plan on a case-by-case basis (i.e. some properties may not be required for future access). 

    Further, the construction of a boardwalk would require capital funding - none of which is identified in the District's five-year financial plan. As such, at this time, the extension of the boardwalk/waterfront trail may best be considered aspirational.