Northern Rockies Regional Municipality

News Release: Zoning Bylaw Public Consultation

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Northern Rockies Regional Municipality


Public Consultation Beginning on Proposed Zoning Bylaw


FORT NELSON - Northern Rockies Regional Municipality (NRRM) is currently undergoing a review of its Zoning Bylaw with the goal of proposing a new Zoning Bylaw by Fall 2015. The goal of this review process is to develop a bylaw that is streamlined, modernized, user friendly, legally sound, and consistent with the Official Community Plan (OCP). Public consultation and stakeholder review are key steps in the process and, as such, the NRRM intends to reach out to key groups who frequently encounter zoning regulations inquiries. Consultation with these groups (including the Fort Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce, real-estate agencies and local developers) will be integral to the process; acquiring their invaluable feedback prior to Public Open House meetings (projected for September, 2015) will aid in the preparation for these meetings.    


“Zoning is one of the primary functions of any municipality and helps shape communities,” said Northern Rockies Mayor Bill Streeper.  “It is essential that the public have the opportunity to influence the development of zoning regulations, and as a Council, we are ensuring these opportunities exist."



The Regional Municipality initiated work on a new Zoning Bylaw in 2011.  This was done in part to ensure that the Zoning Bylaw was consistent with the Official Community Plan (OCP) Bylaw No. 64, 2011 that was adopted by Council on October 24th, 2011.  Zoning and OCP bylaw compatibility is important to ensure consistent day-to-day land use administration.


The new Zoning Bylaw was put on hold in 2012 in response to community concerns about some of the bylaw’s requirements. Regional Council requested that an all-encompassing comparative document showing all proposed changes in the new Zoning Bylaw be prepared to provide greater clarity to the process.  This document is available for review at the Municipal offices and online at The document demonstrates all the changes between the present Zoning Bylaw No. 729, 2008 and the draft of the new Zoning Bylaw page by page. 


Watch for future advertisements or send your name and email address to to ensure you are contacted during the consultation process.


If you have any questions about the proposed Zoning Bylaw, please see the attached Backgrounder or contact:


Richard Roy, Planner

Northern Rockies Regional Municipality

250-774-2541 (ext 2042)




Zoning Bylaw Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):


What is a Zoning Bylaw?

Zoning Bylaws are the primary tool used by local governments to regulate and provide direction to the use of land within municipal boundaries. To do this, areas of the municipality are designated by use and separated into zones which guide development by permitting various uses and set development standards. Zoning bylaws also have provisions to promote OCP objectives and policies, support public safety, and protect property values. A zoning bylaw also helps prevent land use conflicts.  For example, in Fort Nelson it has been Council policy since 1973 to have all new residential housing north of the Alaska Highway.  This has kept it well separated from our industrial zones.  The Regional Municipality will not issue a building permit for any building, construction or new development that does not comply with the zoning bylaw.


Zoning helps facilitate orderly growth, create attractive neighbourhoods and provides some assurance to property owners and residents that the land use and characteristics of their neighbourhood will remain relatively stable.


How do the Zoning Bylaw and the OCP fit together?

The Zoning Bylaw implements the vision of the OCP. For example, the OCP sees an expanded role for the airport, providing an enhanced air side service to accommodate the expansion of commercial and industrial uses. The Zoning Bylaw therefore must permit uses in that space that will allow for a wider variety of commercial and light industrial activities.


Why does the Zoning Bylaw need to be changed?

Our current Zoning Bylaw No. 729, 2008, is outdated and not user friendly.  It was created as a union of the Regional District and the Town of Fort Nelson zoning bylaws prior to the incorporation of the Regional Municipality in 2009. It is frequently imprecise, missing definitions, and permitted uses are vague, resulting in confusion for the user. The intention is to produce a modern document, updated to suit today’s community.


It is not only essential to keep the Zoning Bylaw relevant; it must be updated so that it complies with the objectives and policies of the OCP. Provincial legislation dictates that once an OCP has been adopted, the accompanying Zoning Bylaw must be amended to reflect the OCP’s new plan and to ensure that Zoning Bylaw’s zoning designations and general regulations complement the OCP.


How does a Zoning Bylaw affect you?

The Zoning Bylaw provides the rules surrounding the types of uses and activities permitted on a property. Additionally, when you wish to place a new building, renovate an existing building, or subdivide your property the zoning bylaw provides rules for:

  • Parcel Regulations: The minimum parcel widths and the minimum area;
  • Maximum Parcel Coverage: The portion of  the lot that can be covered by buildings;
  • Maximum Density: The number of buildings that are permitted;
  • Yard Setbacks: The minimum distance from property lines that building is permitted;
  • Maximum Heights: The maximum height of a building;
  • General requirements: Fence and retaining wall heights, secondary suites, off street parking  requirements, and landscaping,

Will you be notified if your property zone is changed?

Yes, for changes affecting less than ten properties, individual property owner notification is required. However, for large scale zoning reviews, the entire community of Fort Nelson will be notified through local newspaper advertisements.


Will you be grandfathered?

In this update to the Zoning Bylaw, no occurrences of this type of scenario are expected. However, when it happens, properties with buildings or uses that lawfully exist at the time of a zoning change, but no longer comply after a zoning change are automatically “grandfathered” and become “legal non-conforming”. This status remains valid until the use ceases or the building is destroyed or demolished. You will not be required to tear down or remove a building because of any changes to the bylaw.


What if you disagree with the changes?

Zoning bylaws are never perfect and usually not everyone will be satisfied. Its strength will be that through key stakeholder and public consultations, the adopted Zoning Bylaw will be drawn up to best reflect the needs of the property owners while balancing community interests. Council has and will continue to have the right to consider requests for rezoning, temporary use, and variance applications on a case-by-case basis.


Learn more about the Zoning Bylaw update, attend a public open house in the coming months.  Dates, times, and locations will be announced shortly.  For more immediate information, visit the planning department at Municipal Hall or contact Richard Roy, - Planner, Community Development & Planning Department at 250.774.2541 Ext. 2042, Municipal Planning Department staff would be pleased to discuss the proposed zoning bylaw with all interested parties.



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