Building & Development
Permit, toolbelt, drill... check!
Building and development within the District of Tofino is managed by the Building Inspector, Planning Department and Engineering Services. Below you will find information related to building permits, development permits, current development projects and other related permits that impact development activities within the District.
Before commencing any clearing, excavation, construction or other development work, please check this page or contact the Planning Department to ensure that you have the appropriate permits in place.
Land Use & Development Applications
If you are considering development of your land and are unsure what steps are required, please consult with our planning department prior to submitting an application.
Do I need a development permit (DP)?
Development Permit Areas (DPA) are lands protected by the Municipality through the Official Community Plan (OCP) for ecological sensitivity, land use or geographic significance, or for development-specific reasons. To find out if your property falls within a DPA, please see schedules B1-9 of the OCP Bylaw No. 1290, 2021 or contact the planning department.
Applying for a Development Permit (DP)
If your property falls within a designated Development Permit Area (DPA), you will require approval prior to altering (including vegetation or soil removal), developing, or subdividing lands. If the proposed works impose on the boundaries of the DPA, you will be required to submit an application and pay associated fees outlined in the Fees & Charges Amendment Bylaw No.1271.04, 2021.
Each DPA includes specific guidelines that support the community's vision for future development and OCP objectives, while encouraging and allowing flexibility for creative design. These guidelines also serve as a framework for District staff and Council to review and evaluate proposals. Find DPA guidelines within the Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 1299, 2021.
Development Variance Permit (DVP)
Per the Local Government Act, Municipal council has the authority to approve a Development Variance Permit (DVP) to vary the provisions of a bylaw. For example, this type of permit can vary the provisions of a zoning bylaw, subdivision servicing, park land, parcel frontage on a highway, and other bylaws.
Alternatively, if you feel that compliance with a bylaw would cause hardship, you may apply to Tofino's Board of Variance for a DVP. The Board of Variance focuses primarily on minor matters related to siting, dimensions and size of buildings. For example, if topography is prohibitive to conformity of normal setbacks. The variance must be minor and the Board has several limitations to what types of variances apply.
Board of Variance (BOV)
Alternatively, if you feel that compliance with a bylaw would cause undue hardship, you may apply to Tofino’s Board of Variance (BOV). The Board of Variance typically focuses on matters related to siting, dimensions and size of buildings, such as challenging topography that makes compliance with zoning requirements onerous. Typically, these variances are minor in nature and the Board is limited to approving variances based on hardship alone.
The BOV is comprised of community volunteers that meet on an as-needed basis.
Temporary Use Permit (TUP)
A Temporary Use Permit (TUP) is a permit that allows a use not otherwise permitted by a property’s zone for a limited time. They can be issued for a maximum of three (3) years and renewed once. They typically serve as a precursor to a zoning amendment or for a one-off occurrence.
Zoning Amendment (ZA)
The District of Tofino Zoning Bylaw outlines zones for each property in the town. These zones determine the permitted uses, density, siting, and other relevant allowances for the property. Occasionally, a property owner may wish to change these permissions – whether to add a different type of use (adding commercial to a residential property, for example) or to change the permitted density (adding additional housing units, for example). To accomplish this change, the zoning for the property must be adjusted through a Zoning Bylaw amendment.
Zoning Bylaw amendments are complex processes that often take significant time and resources on the part of the applicant. These amendments are considered and approved by Council and must be aligned with the goals and policies of the current Official Community Plan. However, alignment with the OCP does not guarantee that a zoning amendment application will be approved.
Official Community Plan Amendment (OCP)
The District of Tofino Official Community Plan (OCP) is the central document guiding development within the community. All land use decisions either consider the OCP or are linked to it in some way. As the OCP is meant to change and grow with the community, amendments to the OCP may be considered by Council though these changes follow a lengthy process outlined by Provincial legislation. Often, a particular zoning amendment application requires an OCP amendment to be supportable.
The District of Tofino typically initiates OCP review and amendment processes every 3-5 years to ensure that this critical document matches the goals and directions of the community. Ideally, any development proposal that requires an OCP amendment will be considered through these standard reviews.
Subdivision occurs when a single parcel of land is divided into multiple parcels, when an existing property line is adjusted, or when two or more parcels are consolidated into a single parcel. The District of Tofino’s Approving Officer is the only authority with the ability to approve a subdivision within the community.
Subdivision is typically regulated by zoning permissions. If a property has the appropriate zone, area, and width, it may be eligible for subdivision. However, there are multiple other factors that influence the viability of a subdivision, such as topography, servicing, access, stormwater, environmentally sensitive areas, and other considerations.
The approval of the Approving Officer is required for the following applications:
- Adjusting lot boundaries between two or more lots
- Creating new lots form one or more lots
- Creating lots in a bare land strata development
- Creating strata lots through a phased strata plan
- Subdivision of land for the purpose of leasing (for a term longer than 3 years)
- Air space parcel subdivisions
- Strata Conversions
Building permits are required for new construction of buildings and structures and for additions and alterations to existing buildings or structures. If you are unsure if you require a Building Permit, it is always best to ask the Building Inspector before starting any construction.
If you're ready to start your new development or home renovation, applying for the proper permits is your first step.
Do you need a Building Permit? The answer is probably yes if you're planning to build or modify any new or existing structure. The best place to start is with the Building Permit Guide.
The District of Tofino and the District of Ucluelet share a Building Inspector. Tofino building inspection services are provided on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
24 hours notice is required to book an appointment with the Building Inspector.