On this page, you will find information regarding the types of permits that may be required to develop property within the RDN. For more information about the application process, please refer to the application guide within each application package, or contact us.

Please note that a variance or development permit may be required before you can apply for a building permit. You may need more than a building permit to begin site preparation and construction. Site preparation includes the removal or alteration of vegetation, grading, and the installation of a well, septic system, or drainage.

Please refer to our Bylaws & Policies page for more information regarding the various policies and bylaws that may apply to an application for a permit.

Please refer to our Application Forms page for more information regarding the application process.

For Building Permit information, please refer to Building and Inspection Services.

Development Permits

How do I cut down trees or build near a ditch, or an Eagles nest, or in a floodplain, or above a known aquifer?

If your property is within a Development Permit Area, a development permit may be required prior to undertaking any development activity such as soil disturbance, vegetation removal, land alteration, or subdivision.

Development Permit Areas are areas designated in Official Community Plans that the community wishes to protect or enhance, such as environmentally sensitive features and farmland. Development Permit Areas also protect development from hazardous conditions and establish design, lighting, and layout features for some residential and commercial areas.

To learn which development permit areas apply to your property, please contact us or use the RDNMap tool.


How do I build taller than allowed, or closer to a property line than allowed?

Variances are a tool that allow for the accommodation of atypical (unusual) development scenarios, like sites with extreme topography, hazardous conditions, environmentally sensitive features, or commercial uses not anticipated by the bylaw (ie. zoning). Applicants are advised to bring their proposals into compliance with the regulation as closely as possible, to minimize the need for a variance, and to help mitigate the impacts of that variance on other properties, functionality of the site, and aesthetic values. Applicants must identify such impacts and propose solutions to lessen their effect.

Please note that variance applications are a public process. It is suggested that applicants discuss their plans with neighbours and tailor their proposals to address feedback.

There are two options to apply for a variance to a regulation. One is through the Board of Directors, the other is through the Board of Variance. Please note that the Board of Variance can only make decisions under very specific circumstances. For more information about the Board of Variance, please refer to our Board of Variance page.


How do I establish a business or a use in an area where it’s not currently allowed?

An amendment application is required when a property owner wishes to change an existing Official Community Plan (OCP) land use designation or policy, the property zoning or subdivision district, or any other land use regulation contained in RDN bylaws (ie. Sign Bylaw).

You may also apply to temporarily add a use, regardless of whether or not it is supported by the OCP. Temporary Use Permits can be used for short term uses, like a sales office for a condominium development, or a food truck. In addition, they can be used to “test drive” a new use, prior to applying to permanently amend a zoning bylaw. Where the trial goes well, a zoning amendment application can be made without also amending the OCP, where the use is not supported.

Please Note: Where a parcel is designated within a development permit area (DPA) by an OCP and the proposed development is not exempt from the DPA guidelines, the property owner or agent is also required to apply to the Board of Directors for a development permit in addition to the amendment application.

Have a question? Need more information?

Please contact Community Planning
Phone: 250-390-6510 (Nanaimo area) or toll free in BC 1-877-607-4111
Fax: 250-390-7511 Email: