Zoning Info

Vancouver Zoning Information

The City of Vancouver is divided into many zoning districts. Each zoning district has a corresponding district schedule in the Zoning and Development By-Law. For an explanation of the Zoning and Development By-Law, scroll to the bottom of this page. 

The following is a brief description of the intent - a statement of what a particular zone is meant to achieve - of district schedules. The Zoning and Development By-Laws and applicable official development plan by-laws must be consulted for a definitive statement of district schedule intent and regulations. Where a zoning district applies to one specific area of the city, the area is noted in parenthesis.

RA (Limited Agriculture District)

RA-1
Limited Agriculture District (Southlands)

The intent is to maintain and encourage the semi-rural, equestrian and limited agricultural nature of this District, to permit one-family dwellings and in specific circumstances to permit infill one-family dwellings.

RS (One-Family District)

RS-1 and RS-1S
One-Family Dwelling Districts

The intent is to maintain the single-family residential character of the RS-1 District and, in the RS1S District, to conditionally permit two-family dwellings and encourage new development that is similar in character to development in the RS-1 District.

RS-1A
One-Family Dwelling District

The intent is to maintain the single-family residential character of the District, but also to conditionally permit in some instances one secondary suite or additional dwelling unit in a single-family residence.

RS-1B
One-Family Dwelling District (Riverside)

The intent is to maintain the single-family residential character of the District, but also to permit a second one-family dwelling on some sites.

RS-2
One-Family Dwelling District

The intent is primarily to maintain the single-family residential character of the District, but also to conditionally permit in some instances the conversion of large homes to contain additional accommodation, and some two-family and multiple-family dwellings.

RS-3 and RS-3A
One-Family Dwelling Districts

The intent is to preserve and maintain the single-family residential character of the RS-3 and RS-3A Districts in a manner compatible with the existing amenity and design of development, and to encourage new development that is similar in character to existing development in this District. Emphasis is placed on encouraging neighbourly development by preserving outdoor space and views and by ensuring that the bulk and size of new development is similar to existing development. Neighbourhood amenity is enhanced through the maintenance of healthy trees and planting which reflects the established streetscape. The RS-3 District permits a higher non-discretionary density than the RS-3A District.

RS-4
One-Family Dwelling District (Turner-Ferndale)

The intent is primarily to maintain the single-family residential character of the District, to conditionally permit, in some instances, the conversion of large homes to contain additional accommodation, and some two-family dwellings and to accommodate retention of an existing residential building where creation of a new lot is otherwise approvable.

RS-5 and RS-5S
One-Family Dwelling District
 
The intent is to maintain the existing single-family residential character by encouraging new development that is compatible with the form and design of existing development, and by encouraging retention and renovation of existing development. Emphasis is place on design compatibility with the established streetscape. neighbourhood amenity is intended to be enhanced through the maintenance and addition of healthy trees and plants. In the RS-5S District, two-family dwellings are conditionally permitted.

RS-6
One-Family Dwelling District 

The intent is to maintain the single-family residential character, to encourage a good standard of building design, materials, and landscape evelopment while allowing design diversity in new development and to encourage retention of existing housing stock. Neighbourhood amenity is enhanced through the maintenance of healthy trees and planting which reflects the established landscape.

RS-7S
One-Family Dwelling District 

The intent is to maintain the single-family residential character of the RS-7S District and, on typical smaller lots, to conditionally permit two-family dwellings and multiple conversion dwellings and, on larger lots, to conditionally permit multiple-family dwellings and infill. Neighbourhood amenity is enhanced through external design regulations.

RT (Two-Family Dwelling District)

RT-1
Two-Family Dwelling District

The intent is primarily to permit side-by-side two-family dwellings.

RT-2
Two-Family Dwelling District

The intent is to permit two-family dwellings and to conditionally permit, in some instances, low density multiple-family housing.

RT-3
Two-Family Dwelling District (Strathcona/Kiwassa)

The intent is to encourage the retention of neighbourhood and streetscape character, particularly through the retention, renovation and restoration of existing character buildings. Redevelopment is encouraged on sites with existing buildings of style and form which are inconsistent with the area's pre-1920 architecture. Emphasis is placed on the external design of additions to existing buildings and new buildings to encourage the preservation of the historic architectural character of the area. Floor area incentives are included to achieve the creation of affordable housing and the rehabilitation of original buildings which are important to the neighbourhood's character.

RT-4, RT-4A, RT-4N, RT-4AN, RT5, RT-5A, RT-5N and RT-5AN
Two-Family Dwelling Districts

The intent is to encourage the retention of exisiting residential structures and to encourage and maintain a family emphasis in the RT-4, RT-4N, RT-5 and RT-5N Districts emphasis is placed on the external design of all new buildings and additions being compatible with the historical character of the area, and on being neighbourly in scale and placement. In the RT-4A, RT-4AN, RT-5 and RT-5AN District this emphasis is limited to certain uses or, in RT-5A and RT-5AN Districts, to development seeking density relaxations. The RT-4N, RT-4AN, RT-5N and RT-5AN Districts require evidence of noise mitigation for residential development.

RT-6
Two-Family Dwelling District (Mount Pleasant)

The intent is to encourage the retention, renovation and restoration of existing residential buildings which maintain an architectural style and building form consistent with the area. Redevelopment is encouraged on sites with smaller buildings or buildings of architectural style and form which are inconsistent with the area. Emphasis is placed on requiring the external design of buildings and additions to buildings to follow the proportions, rhythm and details of architectural features of the area.

RT-7 and RT-8
Two-Family Dwelling Districts

The intent is to encourage the retention and renovation of existing buildings which maintain an architectural style and building form consistent with the historical character of the area. Redevelopment will be encouraged on sites where existing buildings are smaller, or do not contribute to this character. For renovations and additions, emphasis is placed on maintaining existing external architectural character; for new development, on compatibility in external character. In all cases, neighbourly building scale and placement is emphasized.

RT-9
Two-Family Dwelling District (Kitsilano Point)

The intent is to encourage new development with a diversity of character and neighbourly building scale and placement. The retention and renovation of existing buildings is also permitted on sites where buildings have historical or architectural merit.

RM (Multiple Dwelling District)

RM-2
Multiple Dwelling District

The intent is to permit low to medium density residential development, including low-rise apartment buildings, and to secure a higher quality of parking, open space and daylight access through floor area bonus incentives.

RM-3 and RM-3A
Multiple Dwelling Districts

The intent is to permit medium density residential development, including high-rise apartment buildings, and to secure a higher quality of parking, open space and daylight access through floor area bonus incentives.

RM-4 and RM-4N
Multiple Dwelling Districts

The intent is to permit medium density residential development, including a variety of multiple dwelling types, to encourage the retention of existing buildings and good design, and to achieve a number of community and social objectives through permitted increases in floor area. The RM-4N District requires evidence of noise mitigation for residential development.

RM-5, RM-5A, RM-5B and RM-5C 
Multiple Dwelling Districts (West End)

The intent is to permit a variety of residential developments and some compatible retail, office, service and institutional uses. Emphasis is placed on achieving development which is compatible with neighbouring development with respect to streetscape character, open spaces, view retention, sunlight access and privacy. The RM-5A, RM-5B and RM-5C Districts permit greater densities than RM-5.

RM-5
The additional intent of the RM-5 District is to require developments suited to families with children. The additional intent of the RM-5C District is to permit a greater range of uses.

RM-6
Multiple Dwelling District (West End)
The intent is to permit high density residential development and some compatible retail, cultural, recreational, service and institutional uses. Emphasis is placed on achieving development which recognizes the formal character of Georgia Street and is compatible with the West End residential character along Alberni Street.

FM-1
Multiple Dwelling District (Fairview Slopes)

The intent is to enhance the small-scale residential character of the Fairview Slopes neighbourhood by encouraging retention of the existing houses and permitting new low-profile residential development which may include some compatible commercial, light industrial, and ancillary uses, designed to optimize the amenities inherent in the topography and location of this neighbourhood.

C (Commercial District)

C-1
Commercial District

The intent is to provide for small-scale convenience commercial establishments, catering typically to the needs of a local neighbourhood and consisting primarily of retail sales and certain limited service functions, and to provide for dwelling uses designed compatibly with commercial uses.

C-2
Commercial District

The intent is to provide for a wide range of goods and services, to maintain commercial activities and personal services that require central locations to serve large neighbourhoods, and to provide for dwelling uses designed compatibly with commercial uses.

C-2B
Commercial District

The intent is to provide for a wide range of goods and services, to maintain commercial activities and personal services that require central locations to serve larger neighbourhoods, districts or communities and through discretionary approvals to encourage good design and proper utilization of the land.

C-2C
Commercial District

The intent is to provide for a wide range of goods and services, to maintain commercial activities and personal services that require central locations to serve larger neighbourhoods, districts or communities and to encourage creation of a pedestrian oriented district shopping area by increasing the residential component and limiting the amount of office use.

C-2C1
Commercial District

The intent is to provide for a wide range of goods and services, to maintain commercial activities and personal services that require central locations to serve larger neighbourhoods, districts or communities and to encourage creation of a district shopping area by increasing the residential component and limiting the amount of office use.

C-3A
Commercial District

The intent is to provide for a wide range of goods and services, to maintain commercial activities, specialized services and some light manufacturing enterprises while preserving the character and general amenity of the area and its immediate surroundings, and to provide for dwelling uses designed compatibly with commercial uses.

C-5 and C-6
Commercial Districts (West End)

The intent is to provide for retail and services uses and forms of development which are compatible with the primarily residential character of the West End, and to provide for dwelling units designed compatibly with commercial uses. Emphasis is placed on requiring the external design of buildings to be oriented to the pedestrian in terms of scale and functional considerations. The C-6 District provides a transition between Downtown and the West End by permitting a greater density and scale and range of uses than C-5.

C-7 and C-8
Commercial Districts (Arbutus Neighbourhood)

The intent is to encourage the transition of a predominantly industrial and commercial area into a mixed-use community with a strong residential component, while respecting the needs of existing development. Emphasis is placed on well-designed all-residential or mixed residential and commercial buildings. The C-8 District differs from the C-7 District in encouraging pedestrian-oriented retail uses at grade.

FC-1
Commercial District (East False Creek)

The intent is to permit and encourage the development of a high density mixed commercial use neighbourhood, including some residential and compatible industrial uses. For commercial development, a variety of small-scale retail and service uses are encouraged. Larger, more regional-oriented office and retail commercial uses are limited in size and extent for individual sites.

M&I (Industrial District)

MC-1 and MC-2
Industrial Districts

The intent of this Schedule is to reinforce the mixed-use nature of this area, with residential, commercial and light industrial uses permitted. Emphasis is placed on building design that furthers compatibility among uses, and contributes to area character and pedestrian interest. The MC-2 District differs from the MC-1 District in limiting dwelling uses in areas adjacent to a heavy impact industrial zone.

M-1
Industrial District

The intent is to permit industrial and other uses that are generally incompatible with residential land use but are beneficial in that they provide industrial employment opportunities or serve a useful or necessary function in the city. It is not the intent, however, to permit uses that are potentially dangerous or environmentally incompatible when situated near residential districts.

M-1A
Industrial District (Cornwall & Cypress)

The intent is to permit industrial and other uses that are generally incompatible with residential land use but are beneficial in that they provide industrial employment opportunities or serve a useful or necessary function in the city. It is the intent, however, to permit these uses in a manner which achieves an acceptable level of compatibility with adjacent residential districts and to not permit uses that are potentially dangerous or environmentally incompatible when situated near residential districts.

M-1B
Industrial District (S.E. Marine Lands)

The intent is to provide an industrial district schedule that permits industrial and other related uses under conditions designed to minimize conflicts with adjacent or nearby residential uses. The Schedule is also intended to discourage uses that are not related to the industrial sector. While certain commercial and office uses are permitted as either outright or conditional uses, the type and scale of non-industrial uses is restricted.

M-2
Industrial District

The intent is to permit industrial and other uses that are generally incompatible or potentially dangerous or environmentally incompatible when situated in or near residential districts but that are beneficial in that they provide industrial employment opportunities or serve a useful or necessary function in the city

IC-1 and IC-2
Industrial Districts

The primary intent is to permit light industrial uses that are generally compatible with one another and with adjoining residential or commercial districts. It is also the intent to permit advanced technology industry, industry with a significant amount of research and development activity, and commercial uses compatible with and complementing light industrial uses.

The general intent of external design regulations in the IC-2 District is to achieve a form of development compatible with the function and character of abutting major streets. 

IC-3
Industrial District

The primary intent is to permit a mix of light industrial, live arts and theatre, residential and related uses that are generally compatible with adjoining residential and commercial districts. Service uses compatible with and complementing light industrial uses and a limited number of office uses are also permitted, but not general retail stores. The general intent of the external design regulations is to achieve certain public objectives with respect to the historic Brewery Creek water course.

I-1
Industrial District

The primary intent is to permit light industrial uses that are generally compatible with one another and with adjoining residential or commercial districts. It is also the intent to permit advanced technology industry, and industry with a significant amount of research and development activity. Service commercial uses compatible with and complementing light industrial uses are also permitted but not offices or retail stores.

I-2
Industrial District

The internt is to permit industrial and other uses that are generally incompatible with residential land use but are beneficial in that they provide industrial and service employment opportunities or serve a useful or necessary function in the city. It is not the internt, however, to permit uses that are potentially dangerous or environmentally incompatible when situated near residential districts.

I-3
Industrial District

The intent is to permit high technology industry, and industry with a significant amount of research and development activity. It is also the intent to permit light industrial uses that are generally compatible with one another and with adjoining residential or commercial districts.

HA (Historic Area Districts)

HA-1 and HA-1A
Historic Area Districts (Chinatown)

The intent is to encourage the preservation and rehabilitation of the significant early buildings of Chinatown, while recognizing that the evolving activities that make this district an asset to the City need to be accommodated contextually. The Schedule may permit a range of uses provided that reasonable, but not rigorous, concerns for compatibility are met.

To achieve this intent, this Schedule provides the basic development controls that regulate land uses and building form. There are two Districts: HA-1 corresponds to the boundaries of the Provincially designated sites; HA-1A is the remainder of Chinatown.

HA-2
Historic Area District (Gastown)

Gastown is the site of the old Granville Townsite, and it is from this area that the City of Vancouver developed and grew. This District Schedule is designed to recognize the area's special status and to ensure the maintenance of Gastown's "turn of the century" historical and architectural character.

HA-3
Historic Area District (Yaletown)

The intent is to encourage the conversion and renovation of existing warehouse buildings and the construction of compatible new buildings, to produce a more contemporary mix of commercial, industrial and residential uses, and to introduce more activity-oriented uses into this area. Emphasis is placed on requiring the external design of buildings to follow the proportions, rhythm and details of the predominant circa 1900 architectural features, whether renovating or constructing a new building.

CD (Comprehensive Development District)

CD-1
Comprehensive Development District

A separate CD-1 bylaw exists for each area or site zoned CD-1, tailor-made to the intended form of development.

FCCDD
Comprehensive Development District (False Creek - South Side)

The intent of this District and accompanying official and area development plans is to encourage high standards of design and development for the south shore of False Creek, west of the Cambie Bridge

DD
Comprehensive Development District (Downtown)

The intent of this District and accompanying official development plan is to ensure that all buildings and developments in the Downtown District meet the highest standards of design and amenity for the benefit of all users who live, work, shop or visit the Downtown.

CWD
Comprehensive Development District (Central Waterfront)

The intention of this District and its two accompanying official development plans (Central Waterfront and Coal Harbour) is to encourage the development of commercial, recreational, cultural and public uses throughout the waterfront area as well as residential uses west of BurrardStreet. Marathon's Coal Harbour redevelopment is in this area, between Cardero and Burrard Streets.

DEOD
Comprehensive Development District (Downtown-Eastside/Oppenheimer)

The intent of this District and accompanying official development plan is to retain existing and provide new affordable housing for the population of the Downtown-Eastside Oppenheimer area, and to provide for compatible commercial and industrial uses in some areas.

FSD
Comprehensive Development District (First Shaughnessy)

The intent of this District and accompanying official development plan is to protect and preserve Shaughnessy's unique pre-1940 single-family residential character. Provision is made to allow large pre-1940 houses to be redeveloped as multiple conversion dwellings, and to allow large sites with pre-1940 residential buildings to provide infill development.

BCPED
Comprehensive Development District (False Creek - North Side)

The intent of this District and its two accompanying official development plans (False Creek North and Southeast Granville Slopes) is to achieve a high standard of design and development within a number of residential neighbourhoods, parks, public facilities and commercial areas on the north side of False Creek.

 

Zoning and Development By-Law

The The Zoning and Development By-law is a collection of regulations that govern how development may occur in the various zones in the City of Vancouver. Each zone has its own unique requirements for development, although some similarities may occur in related zones. These requirements are described in the individual District Schedules.

The Zoning and Development By-law is laid out as follows:

There is a section of Bulletins, including General Administration Bulletins and zone specific administration bulletins, which is not officially part of the By-law, but included with it. These are additional explanations of particular issues or questions that have arisen as a result of actual developments. This material is meant to provide further clarification on the interpretation of the By-law about these issues. The items are listed alphabetically. The ‘General’ items section applies to all zones. Others are grouped by zone: for example, the "RS" section refers only to residential development issues in RS areas. It would be prudent to check this section for any applicable items when planning a development.

First is the explanatory note and the table of contents. The first page gives the date to which this particular By-law has been updated, a short explanation of its organization, a description of how you may subscribe for amendments, a few words about the accompanying zoning map, and a reference to the Official Development Plan By-laws. This is a separate book containing all the official development plans for False Creek, False Creek North, Downtown, Central Waterfront, Downtown Eastside/Oppenheimer, First Shaughnessy, Southeast Granville Slopes, and Coal Harbour zoning areas. This additional regulatory material has been included in a separate binder due to the volume and complexity of the material.

Next are sections 2 to 16. Section 2 includes the definition of terms used in the By-law. These are described at some length, and include explanations of the different ‘use’ categories. Sections 3 to 16 give information on the authority of the Director of Planning, what documentation is required in an application for submission, when a permit is or is not required, enforcement penalties, and some important general & additional regulations that apply to various types of developments. It is important to read through these sections when planning a development to ensure vital requirements are not overlooked.

Following this are the District Zoning Schedules for all zones. These are grouped into "R" for residential zones, "C" for commercial zones, "M & I" for industrial zones, "HA" for historical areas, and "CD" for the comprehensive development districts which are further detailed in the Official Development Plan By-laws. The binder tabs make it relatively easy to find the appropriate zone.

Immediately after the district schedules is another important section the "General Schedules" section which details the locations of landscape setbacks and building lines. Next comes the "Appendices" section "A" to "M" which has extracts from the Vancouver Charter, information on panels and boards such as the Board of Variance and Urban Design Panel, as well as tables of fees, metric/imperial equivalents, a list of historical building sites and information on Demolitions.

There is an "Index" section at the back of the By-law for easy reference to specific material.

The district zoning schedules themselves are all documented in identical format. Each district zoning schedule has the following five sections:

  • Intent: a statement of what this particular zone is meant to achieve.
  • Outright Approval Uses: a list of uses that are permitted in the zone subject to all provisions of the By-law, and in compliance with the conditions and regulations of the District Schedule.
  • Conditional Approval Uses: a list of uses which may be approved with conditions after considering the intent of the schedule and all applicable policies and guidelines and the submission of any advisory group, property owner or tenant, in addition to all other relevant provisions of the By-law and in compliance with the conditions and regulations of the District Schedule.
  • Regulations which apply to developments in the District Schedule.
  • Relaxation of Regulations which may be permitted in the District Schedule.

Section 4, in each district schedule, contains the regulations. These are divided into subsections in all zones as shown below. All sections are not applicable in every zone - some sections may be blank in a particular district schedule, but the numbering is the same.

Subsection 4.1: Site area
Subsection 4.2: Frontage
Subsection 4.3: Height
Subsection 4.4: Front Yard
Subsection 4.5: Side Yard
Subsection 4.6: Rear Yard
Subsection 4.7: Floor Space Ratio
Subsection 4.8: Site Coverage
Subsection 4.9: Blank - deleted section now covered by the Parking By-law
Subsection 4.10: Horizontal Angle of daylight
Subsection 4.11: Vertical Angle of daylight
Subsection 4.12: Dedication of Land for Lane Development
Subsection 4.13: Area of Transparent Surface
Subsection 4.14: Blank - deleted section now covered by the Parking By-law
Subsection 4.15: Acoustics
Subsection 4.16: Building Depth
Subsection 4.17: External Design

If you wish to know about Floor Space Ratio, for instance, you would be able to find it in any of the district schedules in section 4, subsection 4.7. This allows for easy cross-reference of requirements between different zones.

The Zoning and Development By-law is one large volume which is available online, for purchase on the 3rd floor of the East Wing of City Hall, and is available for reference at some local libraries.