Land Use Application Guides & Forms

Our focus of all long-range planning is the preservation of the environment and community sustainability. For this reason, land use planning involves many different tools to achieve long term stability in the development of the island land base.

Here you’ll find documents and guides for land use applications as they pertain to trust area islands. Land use applications for Bowen Island must be submitted to Bowen Island Municipality.

To learn about the costs of land use applications, visit the Application Fees page.

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Islands Trust Applications Portal

Before You Apply

For applications within local trust areas, please review the following prior to submitting an application:

  1. Before making an application, consider all your options. These guides can help you with planning your project.
  1. If you are proposing the development of a property that includes ecologically significant or sensitive land, you might consider preserving and protecting that piece of the property through a voluntary land donation or a conservation covenant. Information on tax incentives and implications is available at Protect Land During Development.
  2. Please read the relevant application guides carefully before you submit an application form and keep the application guide for your reference during the application process.
  3. Please be sure your application form is complete prior to submission to avoid delays.
  4. If you require assistance, please contact the planning team who is responsible for planning in your Local Trust Committee area.
  5. Mail or deliver the completed application form, plans, fee, and supporting material to an Islands Trust office responsible for your island area.
  6. All fees are payable to the Islands Trust.
  7. Visit the Application Fees page for fees in your local trust area. To find out which local trust area your property is in, please visit the Find Your Local Trust Area page.
  8. Complete a Planning Application Authorization Form

Building Permits

Building permits are issued by Regional Districts. Find out more about building permit requirements for your local trust area.

Southern Gulf Islands

For Building Permits in the Southern Gulf Islands (within the jurisdiction of the Capital Regional District (CRD)) please submit a Preliminary Plan Review Form and required documents electronically. The Southern Office may be reached by phone at 1-250-405-5151 or by emailing Southern Islands for inquiries about Galiano, Mayne, Saturna, North & South Pender Islands. For inquiries about Salt Spring Island contact the Salt Spring Office by phone at 1-250-537-9144 or by emailing Salt Spring Island.

The CRD is responsible for issuing building permits and Islands Trust only reviews plans for consistency with zoning.

Plans submitted to Islands Trust must be identical to your building permit application plans and meet CRD building permit application requirements, which can be found here.

Gabriola Island Local Trust Area

Effective January 19, 2022
For Building Permits in the Gabriola Island Local Trust Area, please submit an application directly to the Regional District of Nanaimo.

If you are applying for a building permit to construct a new secondary suite on Gabriola Island, this covenant is also required.

Gambier Island Local Trust Area

For Building Permits in the Gambier Island Local Trust Area, please submit an application directly to the Sunshine Coast Regional District.

Thetis Island Local Trust Area

For Building Permits in the Thetis Island Local Trust Area, please submit an application directly to the Cowichan Valley Regional District.

Other Areas

For all other building permits on all other islands, except Denman and Hornby islands, contact the relevant regional district building inspection office. All of the offices are listed here.

Gambier LTA Riparian Area Declaration Form – before submitting a building permit application on Gambier Island, complete the Gambier LTA Riparian Area Declaration Form and include that with your application.

This form is intended to help you to determine whether or not a development permit is required prior to beginning construction.

Denman & Hornby Local Trust Areas

For Denman and Hornby islands, before beginning construction, you will need to obtain a Siting and Use Permit.

See the Siting and Use Permit section below under Land Use Applications.

Land Use Applications

All land use applications must be submitted electronically to the Islands Trust Portal unless otherwise stated below. An Authorization Form must also be submitted for all land use applications.

Fees for all applications, except Agricultural Land Reserve applications, are established by the local trust committees’ fee bylaws. Planning staff can assist with determining the appropriate fee. Links to individual local trust committee fee bylaws can be accessed here.

Development Permits

The Local Trust Committee can designate areas of the Local Trust Area as a Development Permit Area for certain specified reasons, and establish guidelines by which a landowner can obtain a permit to do work in the Development Permit Area.

Development permits are commonly used to protect the natural environment, protect development from hazardous conditions, guide the form and character of commercial, industrial or multi-family development, buffer agricultural land, or reduce greenhouse gas emissions, conserve water and energy.

All land that is designated as a Development Permit Area is shown on a map in the Island’s Official Community Plan.

Development Variance Permits

Land Use regulations generally apply to large areas and a large variety of situations. There are times when a regulation might not make sense or seem overly restrictive.

In these situations, a landowner can apply to the Local Trust Committee to vary any land use regulation that applies to their property, except for use or density.

Common uses of a development variance permit include varying the setback from property lines or the height restrictions. All development variance permit applications are referred to landowners, within a distance of the subject variance established by bylaw, for comment before the Local Trust Committee makes a decision.

Board of Variance

The Board of Variance (BOV) is a three-member body appointed by the relevant Local Trust Committee.

The BOV has the authority to issue orders to permit minor variances from, or exceptions to, land use bylaw regulations where it deems compliance with the bylaw would entail undue hardship; and also to permit alterations or additions to nonconforming uses.

All BOV applications are referred to adjacent landowners for comment before the Board of Variance makes a decision.

Rezoning Applications

Rezoning property is the common term for making an application to change (by amendment) a Land Use Bylaw. A Land Use Bylaw describes different permitted uses and densities of land and buildings.

It also regulates the siting, size and dimensions of buildings and the standards required in creating parcels through a subdivision, such as minimum parcel size.

The bylaws are in effect over all land areas of an island, as well as the water surfaces of lakes and the surrounding sea.

Temporary Use Permits

Temporary Use Permits (TUPs) can be issued by the Local Trust Committee to permit a use that otherwise would not be permitted by zoning, in areas or under conditions specified in the Official Community Plan.

A temporary use permit is generally valid for three years and can be renewed once for an additional three years. Further continuation of the temporary use would then require a new application.

All temporary use permit applications (except renewals) are advertised in the local newspaper prior to the Local Trust Committee making a decision.

Some local trust committees have Temporary Use Permits for very specific reasons, such as the operation of Short-Term Vacation Rental.

If you are planning to operate a Short-Term Vacation Rental (STVR) on Gabriola, Galiano or North Pender islands, please review the following before making your application.

Gabriola Island Local Trust Area

North Pender Island Local Trust Area

South Pender Island Local Trust Area

Strata Conversion Application

A building strata conversion is the division of an existing building into strata lots. In these cases, under Section 242 of the Strata Property Act, the landowner must apply to the Local Trust Committee for a building strata conversion.

Soil Removal & Deposits - Registration & Permits (Salt Spring)

Local trust committees may enact a Soil Removal and Deposit Bylaw that apply to their local trust areas. These bylaws are intended to protect soil and regulate the removal and deposit of soil.

At present, only the Salt Spring Island Local Trust Committee has adopted a Soil Removal and Deposit Bylaw.

Before moving or depositing soil on Salt Spring Island, please review the following information to determine whether you are exempt, required to register or require a permit.

Soil Removal/Deposit Registration (Salt Spring Island)

Activity involving the removal or deposit of soil volumes between 40 cubic metres and 100 cubic metres on Salt Spring Island must be registered with the Islands Trust office. There are some exemptions.

Registration form and accompanying site plan must be electronically submitted to the Islands Trust Portal.

Soil Removal/Deposit Permits (Salt Spring Island)

The removal or deposit of soil in volumes more than 100 cubic metres on Salt Spring Island requires a Soil Removal and Deposit Permit.

These permits are issued by Islands Trust staff unless the proposed activity involves the removal or deposit of more than 5,000 cubic metres of soil.

In that case, the decision to issue the permit is made by the Salt Spring Island Local Trust Committee. There are some exemptions.

Applying for a permit is free. Soil Removal and Deposit Permit applications must be electronically submitted to the Islands Trust Portal.

Siting and Use Permits (Denman & Hornby)

Siting and Use Permits are issued on Denman and Hornby Island by the relevant local trust committee.

Denman and Hornby Island Trust areas are the only two areas in the Islands Trust that do not have any building inspection services.

In those island areas, landowners must have a valid Siting and Use Permit prior to beginning construction.

Liquor and Cannabis Applications

Applications for distribution of Liquor or Cannabis are made through the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB). The LCRB will forward (refer) the application for the licence or permit to Islands Trust. Once the Islands Trust has received the referral from the LCRB, an Islands Trust LCRB Licence/Permit application must be electronically submitted to the Islands Trust Portal.

Part of the process is a requirement for local government and public input into the proposal.

More Information

Contact the Liquor and Cannabis Licensing.

Heritage Alteration Permits

Local trust committees may adopt Heritage Alteration Permit (HAP) Areas in their local trust area to protect heritage features.

These areas are identified in the Official Community Plan. At present, only the Salt Spring Island Local Trust Committee has adopted a Heritage Alteration Permit Area.

Before undertaking development on Salt Spring Island, review the following information to determine whether or not you need a Heritage Alteration Permit.

Application Fee Sponsorship

The Executive Committee can sponsor fees for applications that benefit the community at large. See the Development Application Fee Sponsorship Application Form for more information.

Agricultural Land Reserve Applications

Applications regarding land use decisions for land within the Agricultural Land Reserve are initiated with the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC). The Islands Trust will then receive the referral from the ALC. The Local Trust Committee will determine whether it supports the application, and if it doesn’t, will forward the application back to the ALC for decision.

Contact the Agricultural Land Commission to initiate an Agricultural Land Reserve application.

Subdivision Applications

The Provincial Approving Officer (PAO), working with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI), is the independent authority responsible for subdivision approval within the Islands Trust Area (except Bowen Island Municipality). Applications are made to MoTI.  In considering subdivision applications, the PAO will request that the Islands Trust confirm that the proposal is consistent with Local Trust Committee policies and regulations.

Please note, prior to granting subdivision approval, the PAO will seek to confirm with the Islands Trust that the proposed subdivision complies with all applicable land use regulations, which are typically found in the LUB, in addition to other Provincial legal requirements. If it is not possible to comply with all bylaw requirements, the application will need to be modified, or an application will need to be made for a bylaw amendment or variance to the land use bylaw.

More Information

Contact the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to initiate the subdivision application process.