Know Your Zone

Last month we talked about What to Consider Before Buying a Home and we touched on the importance of property zoning. Delving into the topic of property zoning can be slightly overwhelming so we spoke with a planner at the District of Squamish to break it down. There is an entire department devoted to the development of this fine town, with years of experience and they have a wealth of knowledge to share. The information in this blog is intended to provide you with an enlightened view of the zoning process and how it may affect you and future developments.

The first important thing to note is that realtors and developers are typically familiar with zoning and development permits. These professionals can translate the wordy-bylaw-jargon into layman’s terms, answer most questions, or take you through the entire processes. That being said, the District of Squamish has a comprehensive website for those of you that like to research your own facts. You can see an aerial view of any property with all the details of the zoning including: size, water and sanitary systems, flood protection, trails and utilities by simply typing the address in this link – Very cool!

The planning department in Squamish has prioritized (among many other things) affordable housing and they are constantly reviewing and amending zoning bylaws to increase development of secondary suites and detached secondary suites (aka carriage homes). If you have been considering a secondary suite, this could be a great time to make that investment. Not only can it provide additional income as a rental, it also increases your property value and creates more housing – win, win…win! Recent changes to the bylaws include: expanding the allowable size of suites, permitting suites on the ground floor of accessory buildings (such as garages), and allowing bigger suites for “greener” homes.

Mother-in-law Suite

There are many factors that affect a property’s zoning such as density, area preservation, flooding, utilities and general infrastructure. Once that part is all sorted, don’t forget about the importance to building permits! If you are planning to build, renovate, or demolish a property, you are probably going to need a permit. The purpose of a building permit is that all buildings comply with safety, health, building and zoning requirements of the District of Squamish and the Province of British Columbia. Once again, an experienced contractor or builder can help you through this process. Applying for a permit is going to cost you $75 (+ the cost of the actual permit) and the process has a hefty checklist that goes along with that so be sure to cross your t’s and dot your i’s for optimal efficiency. Bonus: a permit is not required if you are simply replacing, like for like, and not changing anything such as the replacement of windows or a deck.

You know that old saying, “Sometimes it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask permission”? That’s not the case when it comes to construction. Building without proper permitting can put others in danger or cost you a lot of time and money. Follow procedures, be patient and hire the right people. Keeping our beautiful town “hardwired for adventure” is a priority for all of us and zoning and proper permitting keeps that in check.

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Jason Lorenz | Owner | 
jason@lorenzdevelopments.com

Squamish: 604 892 7652
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