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, guides, and forms for land use applications as they pertain to trust area islands. Please note, land use applications for Bowen Island must be submitted to Bowen Island Municipality.
To lean about the costs of land use applications, visit the Application Fees page.
Before You Apply
For applications within local trust areas, please review the following prior to submitting an application:
- Before making an application, consider all your options. These guides can help you with planning your project.
- Southern Gulf Islands – Environmentally Friendly Building Guide
- Northern Gulf Islands and Howe Sound – Environmentally Friendly Building Guide
- Choosing a Building Site on Your Lot Fact Sheet
- 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.
- 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.
- Please be sure your application form is complete prior to submission to avoid delays.
- If you require assistance, please contact the planning team who is responsible for planning in your Local Trust Committee area.
- Mail or deliver the completed application form, plans, fee, and supporting material to an Islands Trust office responsible for your island area.
- All fees are payable to the Islands Trust.
- 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.
Building permits are issued by Regional Districts. To find out more about building permit requirements for your local trust area, click here.
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 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
For Building Permits in the Gabriola Island Local Trust Area (within the jurisdiction of the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN)) please contact the Northern Office to discuss your project with a Planner. The Planner will complete an RDN Preliminary BP form for you to submit to the RDN along with your other building permit application documents. The Northern Office may be reached by phone at 250.247.2063 or by emailing northinfo@
The RDN 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 RDN building permit application requirements, which can be found on the RDN website.
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.
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 (except Building Permit Referrals and Agricultural Land Reserve Applications) are made using a unified land use application form that is linked in each of the land use application type sections below.
Use this form for all of the application types listed below. The form allows you to apply for more than one type of application concurrently, provided it is for the same project.
For example, if you need a variance and a development permit, you can use the one form to make both applications.
Fees for all applications, except Agricultural Land Reserve applications, are established by the local trust committees’ fee bylaws. Where more than one application commonly needs to be applied for together, some fee bylaws have a combined fee.
In other instances, the fee for each type of application would be assessed. Planning staff can assist with determining the appropriate fee. Links to individual local trust committee fee bylaws can be accessed here.
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.
- Galiano Development Permit Application Resources and Guides:
- North Pender Island Development Permit Application Resources and Guides
- Unified Land Use Application Form and Schedule B
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 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
- Gabriola Island Official Community Plan Bylaw Excerpt
- Gabriola Island Vacation Rental Supplemental Application Form
Galiano Island Local Trust Area
North 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
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 is free using the Unified Land Use Application form linked below. Registration forms are sent to SSI Soil Management.
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.
Siting 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.
Part of the process is a requirement for local government and public input into the proposal.
A referral to the local government is made using the Unified Land Use Application Form.
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 for non-farm use inside the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), which includes a subdivision of ALR land, may be made to the relevant local trust committee.
The local trust committee will determine whether it supports the application, and if it does, will forward the application to the Agricultural Land Commission for a decision. The application form and fees are established and maintained by the Agricultural Land Commission.
Applications for the inclusion of land in the Agricultural Land Reserve may be made directly to the Agricultural Land Commission.
Contact the Agricultural Land Commission.