Planning Frequently Asked Questions

Below are general answers to frequently asked questions. Should you require further assistance, you may submit your question by email at

Please Note: This information is not a substitute for legal counsel or professional advice.

Property Information

Zoning regulates how you may use your property, by setting out what you can do, where on the property it can be located, and at what density (i.e., how many dwelling units are allowed). Other sections of the zoning bylaw, besides the zone itself, also regulate activities on your property such as parking, setbacks to watercourses, or home-based business rules. The applicable bylaw can be accessed on the Bylaw page.

To learn what zone applies to your property, visit SCRD Maps to download a free property report. For more information, see “SCRD Maps” below.

SCRD Maps is an easy-to-use tool to help the public download a free Property Report for any parcel in the SCRD.

The Property Report provides information on zoning, development permit areas, subdivision district area, and much more.

Do you need a civic address for your property? Addressing is assigned by the SCRD mapping team. For further information, see civic addressing. 

The ALR is a provincial zone in which agriculture is recognized as the priority use. It is different from zoning under a SCRD bylaw. The ALR is administered by the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC). The ALC is a Provincial agency whose purpose is to preserve agricultural land and encourage farming. Please visit the ALC website ( for more information about how the ALC and the ALR work.

Development application processes within the ALR is separate from the processes under the SCRD regulations. In some cases, proposed development will require the permission of both the ALC and the SCRD, in other cases it will be only the ALC. ALC regulations apply only to land that is actually within the ALR, so for a parcel that is partially within the ALR and partially outside it, the ALC regulations apply only to the portion of the land that is physically within the ALR boundary, not the entire parcel.

To determine if your property is located in the ALR you can look this up at SCRD Maps

For further information on construction in the ALR, review ‘ALC Regulations – Building in the ALR’ on the Codes and Regulations page.

A Certificate of Title and title related documents such as easements and covenants can be accessed through the BC Land Title Office’s website.

The Land Title Office also provides property ownership information, copies of charges listed on title, such as easements, covenants and building schemes. If you have trouble understanding these documents, you may wish to seek legal counsel on your behalf.

Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) is the approving authority for all septic related requirements in the SCRD. Please contact VCH with any questions about septic systems including how to locate the septic tank on your property.


Property Information Request ($100)

A Property Information Request (PIR) provides basic, publicly available information on land use items for a specific property. PIRs are most commonly requested by property owners who have minor questions on permitted used or Development Permit Area requirements.

Email to request a PIR. The following information is required to process the request:

  • The name, address, contact phone number and email address of the person making the request.
  • The civic address and legal description of the property that is subject to the request.
  • The minor question on land use or planning application process you would like an answer to in writing.

Comfort Letter ($300)

A Comfort Letter provide information on land use items for a specific property, such as the current zoning, building permit records, and past development applications. Comfort Letters are most commonly requested by law firms or Real Estate Agents wanting to know the current status of property as part of due diligence as part of a property sale.

Email to request a Comfort Letter. The following information is required to process the request:

  • The name, address, contact phone number and email address of the person making the request.
  • The civic address and legal description of the property that is subject to the request.
  • An itemized list of information being requested (e.g., type and status of permits, zoning regulations, subdivision potential, bylaw infractions, etc.).

Business in the SCRD

Businesses operating within the boundaries of the SCRD must be in compliance with zoning. New business owners are encouraged to contact Planning staff to discuss their future business plans to confirm compliance with the zoning.

The SCRD does not issue business licenses, nor is a business license required to operate a business within its boundaries. Please note: Operating a business within an incorporated area, such as the District of Sechelt or the Town of Gibsons, requires a business license. Please contact these local governments directly for more information.

SCRD zoning bylaws have regulations for bed and breakfast and short-term rental accommodation. An entire single-unit-dwelling (residential home) or auxiliary dwelling unit (carriage house) over 55m2 (592 sq ft) cannot be operated as a short-term rental accommodation.

The short-term rental operator must reside on the property where the rental is located for the duration of the rental being in operation. Please refer to short-term rental regulations found in the applicable zoning bylaw for more details. SCRD Zoning Bylaws can be found on the Bylaws page.

Where required, licenses and/or approvals from Provincial agencies are necessary to operate a business within the SCRD such as for liquor and cannabis retail sales, childcare or food service. Tenures such as Licenses or Leases are required to make private use of public land, such as docks, boat ramps, recreational trails, and other uses.  In most cases, the applicant must demonstrate that the application to the Province meets local regulations. Provincial agency may require the SCRD to review an application for a license before it can be issued.

Applicants for Provincial licenses, such as liquor or cannabis retail, are required to make an application to the SCRD for review. Please be advised that the required licenses and approvals may need to be submitted in support of a building permit application, such as to establish a catering service or childcare facility as a home-based business within a residential building. For more information refer to the applicable provincial agency.

Planning Applications and Permits

Application Forms for planning approvals, such as development permits, variances, subdivision, and land use information letters, can be found on the Planning applications page.

Fees for planning applications can be found here..

A Development Permit is required when you are planning to alter land (digging, tree cutting, grading/fill, etc.), subdivide land, or construct buildings/structures in a Development Permit Area (DPA) or within 30 metres of any wetland, stream, or ditch. A Development Permit is required before prior to undertaking any development activities.

DPAs are areas designated in Official Community Plans that the community wishes to protect or enhance, such as environmentally sensitive features and farmland, and also protect development from hazardous conditions. To learn which DPAs apply to your property, please us the SCRD mapping tool (see “SCRD Maps” above) or email

Questions for Other SCRD Departments or Organizations

Building permits are required prior to the construction, renovation or alteration of any building or structure on a property, including retaining walls. Contact SCRD Building Services at or 604-885-6803 for more details.

SCRD Bylaw Compliance Officers ensure that the bylaws that currently govern the SCRD are adhered to. If you have a complaint regarding a violation of a bylaw, please fill out the Complaint Form. A Bylaw Compliance Officer may be contacted by email at

In advance of any land alteration (digging, tree cutting, grading/fill), a property owner is responsible for determining their responsibilities under the Heritage Conservation Act. Except as may be authorized by the Minister responsible for heritage conservation, no person may damage, alter, or remove from a site any object, artifact, feature, material or other physical evidence of unknown origin that may be protected under the Heritage Conservation Act. In the event of finding a possible archaeological site or artifact, immediately stop work and use the contacts below. In advance of land alteration, please determine your responsibilities by contacting:

Archaeology Branch Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development

PO Box 9816 Stn Prov Govt Victoria, BC V8W 9W3

The Land Management Division, Squamish Nation

320 Seymour Blvd, North Vancouver, V7J 2J3

shíshálh Nation Rights and Title Department

5555 Sunshine Coast Highway, Sechelt, BC
Phone: (604) 885-2273 Toll Free: 1-866-885-2275
PO Box 740, Sechelt, BC VON 3A0


Each year BC Timber Sales opens their 5-year Operating Plan (harvesting plan) for comment. Referrals are sent to the Sunshine SCRD and other agencies.