Board of Variance
What is the Board of Variance?
The British Columbia Local Government Act requires a local government that has adopted a zoning bylaw to establish a Board of Variance. This is a quasi-judicial body which is independent from City Hall. It is made up of volunteer members appointed by City Council. Elected City officials and City employees are not permitted to sit on the Board of Variance.
The Board deals with requests for minor relaxations to the Zoning Regulation Bylaw, and may grant one or more variances where it is persuaded that the present zoning creates an undue hardship unique to the property in question. If a hardship is established, the Board may grant the minimum variance that it believes is necessary to alleviate the hardship. However, the Board may deny the variance request if it feels that the proposed variance would substantially affect the use and enjoyment of a neighboring property, harm the natural environment or defeat the purpose of the Zoning Regulation Bylaw.
The Board also deals with matters regarding additions and structural alterations to buildings with a legal but non-conforming use.
The Board may not grant variances related to land use, density limits, on-site parking or landscaping.
The City of Victoria is recruiting for two positions for three-year terms to serve on its Board of Variance.
NOTE: Over the coming weeks, the City will be making decisions about advisory body meetings in relation to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
What is the Process?
Application Submission and Review
Prior to submitting an application, the Board encourages applicants to canvas all notified adjacent property owners and occupants with information about the proposal and to request signatures indicating support for or opposition to the proposal. This is time well spent as it allows for constructive input and identification of concerns that neighbours may have. Adjacent properties include properties that are directly across the street as well as those at the rear, sides and corners of the application’s subject site. Staff can assist in determining all adjacent properties that will receive notification from the City of the variance request.
Applications are to be submitted in person to Development Services, located in the Development Centre on the 2nd floor of City Hall. Applications will not be accepted via mail or courier.
Staff will review the application to confirm it is complete and the requested variances are clearly identified.
Notice is mailed to all owners and occupants of adjacent properties no less than 10 clear days prior to the scheduled hearing date.
Any letters of support or concern received by Development Services are forwarded to the Board in advance of the hearing date.
Board of Variance Hearings
The following steps outline the meeting procedures:
- At the appointed time, staff will accompany all attendees from the allocated waiting area to the meeting room and will introduce all attendees to the Board. Note: attendees are to sign in when they arrive the waiting area.
- The Board of Variance secretary records the names and affiliations of those attending the hearing.
- The Chair will explain the process.
- All correspondence that has not been provided to the Board in advance of the hearing will be read aloud by the secretary at the start of the hearing.
- The Chair will invite the applicant to present the proposal.
- The Board may ask questions of the applicant(s).
- The Chair will invite notified adjacent property owners/occupants to present comments and/or questions about the proposal. These are to be addressed directly through the Chair. The Chair moderates all discussion between the applicant(s) and the attendees.
- Once the applicant(s) and adjacent property owners/occupants have had an opportunity to speak, the open public discussion will be closed.
- The Board will then deliberate the proposal. The applicant(s) and notified adjacent property owners/occupants (attendees) may remain in the meeting room and listen to the deliberations. However, they cannot participate in any discussion at this stage.
- Once the Board has completed its deliberations, a motion will be made by a Board member and voted on by the Board members. A motion requires a majority vote to be passed. The Chair does not vote on a motion unless the members are evenly divided in the vote.
- If a motion is defeated, a new motion will be made and voted on.
- In extenuating circumstances, the Chair may choose to adjourn a hearing to a later date.
- Once a motion is passed, the decision is final and cannot be appealed. However, if the proposed construction is not substantially started within 2 years of the date the variance was granted by the Board, permission terminates and a new variance request will be required.
Can a Board of Variance decision be appealed?
Under the Local Government Act Division 15 Section 542 subsection (4), a decision of the Board of Variance is final. There is no process for appeal.
Variances to the Zoning Regulations Bylaw may be requested of City Council by way of a development application. This is separate process and is not associated with the Board of Variance. For more information on development applications for variances, please contact Development Services at 250.361.0382 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Meeting time and location
Meetings are held at City Hall twice per month, typically on a Thursday starting at 12:30 p.m. Hearings are scheduled to commence every 20 minutes.
City of Victoria Board of Variance Bylaw & B.C. Local Government Act Excerpt
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