How Development Applications Get Processed
This explanation complements a listing of Norquay development applications that seek conditional increase in building size or relaxation of requirements.
Development in Norquay is beginning to pick up speed. Most of the former RS-1 (single-family dwelling) area was rezoned in April 2013 to RT-11 (small house/duplex) and RM-7 (rowhouse/stacked townhouse). As of mid-February 2014, six development applications in these two zones have been listed on the City of Vancouver’s web site for development applications, and others will follow.
Before development can proceed, an application must be filed with City of Vancouver Development Services. If the application is for a form of development that is outright (permitted by the existing zoning), it is reviewed and decided on fairly quickly by staff designated to act for the Director of Planning. Examples of outright development forms in Norquay are additions, one-family dwellings, and two-family dwellings (duplexes).
When an applicant seeks a conditional increase in FSR, the process takes longer. FSR is calculated by dividing the floor area of a building by the site area. It is an important way to control the size of buildings. An increase in FSR usually entails an increase in unit density (the number of dwelling units allowed on the site). The new zoning regulations for Norquay allow the Director of Planning (through designated planning staff) to increase the FSR to a maximum of .85 in the RT-11 zone (or .9 if a character house is retained) and to a maximum of 1.2 in the RM-7 zone. Before planning staff approve the increase in FSR, they must “first consider the intent of [the zoning] schedule, all applicable Council policies and guidelines, and the submissions of all advisory groups, property owners or tenants.” This condition gives Planning staff additional oversight over the proposed development.
An applicant may also seek a relaxation of regulations. Planning staff often consider a relaxation where site specific hardships arising from peculiarities make it difficult to conform to a regulation (e.g. irregularly shaped lots or steeply sloping sites). There is also sometimes potential for increased area, height, building size, or number of buildings if certain guidelines are met. Zoning regulations for RT-11 and RM-7 in Norquay include potential for relaxations.
The applicant for a conditional application or for an application asking for a relaxation is asked to post a development application sign on the proposed site. This is often the first indication to the public that development is about to occur. After the applicant confirms to Development Services that the sign has been posted, the City of Vancouver adds the application to its web site and sends a notification letter to immediate neighbours. There can be an interval of several days between the posting of the sign and the listing on the web site. Privacy concerns dictate that the drawings themselves not be posted, but the web site still gives a considerable amount of information. Both the sign and the web site include contact information for the Project Coordinator in the Planning Department, who can provide further detail on the application. Deadline for public comment is set for a minimum of two weeks after the application is listed on the web site and the notification letters have been sent. Comments will be accepted up to the date that the decision is made.
Decision to approve or reject an application will occur following the deadline for public comment. Planning staff consider advice from other departments and government agencies, advice from other planning staff, and submissions from advisory groups and neighbours. Comments from neighbours living close to the proposed development site may carry additional weight. Everyone who submits comments will be notified of the final decision.
Any development application in Norquay that goes beyond single-family house or duplex seems likely to seek conditional increase in FSR. The only indications of impending development will be signboard at the site, listing on the development application site, and notification mailed out to immediate neighbours in the surrounding area.
The development application process offers the only opportunity for Norquay residents to give feedback on a specific development proposal in the new RT-11 and RM-7 zones. No response from residents will be interpreted as indifference or tacit support.
The City of Vancouver development application listing is found at
Also see Brief Explanation of Zoning and Development Permits in Vancouver
Back to Eye on Norquay [ Updated 20 Feb 2014 ]