Vancouver Proposes Pilot Project to Omit Certain Guidelines and Relax Trees By-Law to Expediate Development Application Processing

Vancouver Proposes Pilot Project to Omit Certain Guidelines and Relax Trees By-Law to Expediate Development Application Processing

  • Commercial Real Estate
  • Real Estate
  • Vancouver
June 23, 2021

The council is making several recommendations to the city in an attempt to speed up redevelopment application time. The amount of redevelopment application has been piling up and taking too long to process. It will slow down the whole development process at a time where more housing supply is needed. Furthermore, the city has been overloaded with previous work accumulated during COVID. A business address change can take two to four months processing time. The process needs to be simplified to get everything back on track.

The latest recommendation the council made is divided into two categories: a pilot project type which will last for 12 months and a permanent policy change. Both are in favour of real estate developer and individual owners.


  1. Not to enforce certain design guidelines for one and two family dwelling seeking a development permit in specific neighbourhoods (RS-3 and RS-3A, RS-5, RT-3, RT-6, RT-7, RT-8, RT-9 and RT-10 Zoning Districts) (12 Month Project)
  2. Not to enforce specific sections of the Protection of Trees By-law to enable faster processing of development permit applications and reduce further growth of backlogs; (12 Months Project)
  3. Amendment to section 2.2. of the Protection of Trees By-law, to define a tree as having a diameter of 30 cm., rather than the existing 20 cm
  4. 12-month delay in the implementation of amendments to the Building By-law, as set out in sections 19 through 42 of By-law No. 12692, relating to mandatory zero emission building construction guidelines for all new homes.

The changes are expected to save 10,170 processing weeks derived from an average savings of 2 weeks on approximately 5000 applications.

Recommendation 1: will temporary relaxation to deprioritize details review of the architectural design: composition, doors and windows, material, and detailing, and focus on roof and overall form.

Recommendation 2: a temporary relaxation to only conduct Landscape reviews for life safety concerns and deprioritize the character landscape reviews associated with design guidelines in certain neighbourhoods for the duration of the relaxation period.

Recommendation 3: When an arborist report is required, the council wants to relax current requirement to require an arborist only in situations of life-safety, or trees over a certain size. A greater flexibility when trees conflict with accessory buildings. an amendment to the Protection of Trees By-law redefining a small tree as a tree with a diameter of less than 30 cm (increasing the non-enforcement threshold and when a permit is required from 20cm to 30 cm diameter).