Victoria’s new downtown zoning aims to be easier for property owners to understand. The proposed new zones have been simplified down from 82 types. (City of Victoria map)

New Victoria zoning bylaw would cut red tape for developers, downtown property owners

Complex zoning laws made easier to navigate under proposed regulations

The days of confusing rezoning applications for Victoria property owners could be over if the city council approves a new downtown zoning bylaw.

Something as simple as an addition to a building or business can leave people swimming through mountains of paperwork. Searching for the zoning details for a particular plot of land often ends up in the hands of Victoria’s planning tech staff, who spend as much as half their working hours checking rezoning bylaws, according to Jonathan Tinney, City director of sustainable planning and community development.

Although Victoria is relatively small, and the downtown even smaller, the city’s zoning system is complex. The new bylaw, as presented, tackles the downtown core area, but changes for the rest of the city are also in the works, Tinney said.

“[Victoria’s] zoning bylaw has almost 800 different types of zones with different regulations attached to each of them,” he said.

“We have about 82 different zones that cover different parcels in the downtown core. But if we look at the plan, there’s really only a handful of different uses.”

Based on that, the downtown can be simplified into, generally, just three types of zones, Tinney said.

In the 1970s, the City decided to tailor each type of zone to the type of development being proposed, but what it created is complicated and difficult to navigate today.

What property owners can do, for the most part, won’t change. But changes will make it easier for downtown businesses and developers to navigate the system, saving staff time and money in the process.

“The big thing, I think, is for building owners and property owners in the downtown it will be much easier for them to understand what they can and cannot do, without having to go through reams and reams of paper and have to talk to City staff to help them decipher it.”

Recent off-street parking requirements proposed will also be included in Zoning Bylaw 2017.

The date for the public hearing on the new bylaw has not been set.

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