Board of Variance

What is the Board of Variance?

The Board of Variance reviews appeals for minor variances where compliance with the City's Zoning Regulation Bylaw would cause undue hardship. It also deals with matters regarding additions and structural alterations to non-conforming buildings. 

Purpose

The Board of Variance is a quasi-judicial body which is independent from City Council. It is made up of five members appointed by City Council. Elected officials and City staff are not permitted to sit on the Board.

The Board reviews appeals for minor variances where compliance with the Zoning Regulation Bylaw would cause undue hardship. It also deals with matters regarding additions and structural alterations to non-conforming buildings. It does not address matters related to land use, density limits, parking variances or landscape variances.

About

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.

Meeting Time and Location

Board of Variance meetings are being held online. Meetings occur on the second and fourth Thursday of each month at 12:30 p.m. Hearings are generally scheduled to commence every 20 minutes. If you wish to attend a hearing, please email bov@victoria.ca

Board of Variance Hearings

The following steps outline the meeting procedures:

  • At the appointed time, staff introduce all attendees to the Board. The Board of Variance secretary records the names and affiliations of those attending the hearing.
  • The Chair explains the meeting procedure.
  • All correspondence that has not been provided to the Board in advance of the hearing is read aloud by the secretary at the start of the hearing.
  • The Chair invites the applicant(s) to present the proposal. The Board may ask questions of the applicant(s).
  • The Chair invites 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 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 then deliberates 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, Part 14, Division 15, Section 542 (4), a decision of the Board of Variance is final. There is no process for appeal.

Variances to the Zoning 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 developmentservices@victoria.ca

Agendas

Minutes 

Archived Minutes

City of Victoria Board of Variance Bylaw & B.C. Local Government Act Excerpt