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Zoning, what is it good for? (Part One)   by Geraldine Santiago

Published Author, Licensed Realtor

When purchasing a property for the first time, prospective home buyers need to look at the zoning of the area.  If you are buying a property, this information is located on the MLS feature sheet prepared by the listing or selling agent.  You can do more research on-line by going to your municipality or city’s website to find out more about the zoning and by-laws for development. This will allow and restrict you if you were to build or intend to run a business from your home.  If you have already purchased your property, this information may be found on your title search as well as from the MLS listing and your BC assessment.  

Zoning protects and preserves the right of an owner to use his or her property through regulation. Zoning is carried out by the local government and specifies what types of buildings can be built. It specifies height restrictions of a building, types of businesses that can be carried out, and so on.  As a home owner or future home owner, it is always important to find out what your zoning is on your property.  

In strata titled properties for multi-dwelling residential buildings such as condominium, apartments, townhouses, and so on, there exist by-laws which set out specific uses and guidelines for the use of the property by its residents.  In single detached homes, there exist zoning by-laws and regulations which specifically addresses use and development for the area in question. Unless zoning allows it, one cannot just open a barber shop, or a convenience store from a your home or property.  That's exactly what zoning is for.

It is important to obtain a map of your city to know where the boundaries of zoning exist as they may also affect you.  A neighbouring factory, golf course, park, school can affect you in a positive and negative way. In addition, it should be noted that there may also be future changes in zoning, which could also affect your property as well. 

Recently in Vancouver, BC, there have been changes to certain zoning namely for RS, RT and RM zones which were adopted by City Council in July 2009. The City of Vancouver’s Land Use and Development had certain guidelines regarding a laneway house allowing laneway housing to be built on the property of the above mentioned zones. For a homeowner with this new zoning changes, what does it mean?  Find out in my next article  Zoning, what is it good for?  Part Two by Geraldine Santiago


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