—- Current Projects—-
Currently, the Town of Smithers is working on fhe following Projects:
- New Library and Art Callery Concept Design & Business Case Project
- Smithers Active Transportation Plan
- Smithers Housing Needs Assessment Project
- Smithers Child Care Plan
Smithers Housing Needs Assessment Project
Housing has always been a focus area of discussion and policy action in the Town of Smithers. Smithers Housing Need Assessment Project is the latest initiative taken by the Town in this direction. This project will update the 2014 Housing Need and Demand Study prepared by SPARC BC for the Smithers Housing Action Committee.
The Housing Need Report will reflect the community's current housing needs, establish the Town's role in supporting housing, and meet the Local Government Act's requirements concerning the development of housing needs reports within the April 2022 deadline. Besides, it will position the Town of Smithers, housing providers, social service groups, and additional stakeholders to understand and respond to the community's changing needs while leveraging funding for projects that aim to address the needs. SPARC BC, a Burnaby-based consulting firm, is working with the Town of Smithers on this project.
The initial phase of work will include developing a methodology and data collection plan for gathering information to provide a meaningful picture of current and future housing needs. This phase will also include outreach and engagement with key community partners and stakeholders to put together a comprehensive picture of the overall housing needs across the Town, including developing a complete Community Profile. The final report produced through this process will be published online.
The project's second component is a draft Housing Incentive Policy that includes identifying potential partnerships, policies, strategies, regulatory tools, and other incentives to meet current and anticipated future housing demands successfully. It is anticipated that the Housing Incentive Policy will facilitate implementation of the Town Council's Strategic Plan and updates to the Official Community Plan (OCP), including targets and strategies for infill development, secondary suites, carriage houses, and supports for residents who are experiencing homelessness.
Intending to ensure that the final report content effectively captures the housing realities in Smithers's context, the project adopted a meaningful public engagement process despite the unanticipated circumstances resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and the 'new normal' in social/community engagements. To this end, the project relied on a range of community engagement tools, including a community survey, stakeholder surveys, one-on-one interviews, and focus group discussions with various groups of stakeholders identified. The above tools enabled the Town to learn more about the different types of housing needs in Smithers and to identify existing challenges, opportunities, and areas for action.
Housing Needs Report-Town of Smithers (2020)
The Housing Needs Report is a foundational document to support the Town in responding to its housing needs and in informing the development of policies and development-related decisions. As a key document that provides a holistic account of the community's housing scenario, this report will also function as an additional resource to guide the service providers, local businesses, and residents. This report's contents are also expected to expand the provincial understanding of the local housing supply and demand needs.
The report is divided into six sections. In compliance with the legislative requirements, the report analyzes fifty (50) social, demographic, economic, and housing-related indicators. As the detailed data inventory is not part of the UBCM's Housing Need Report requirements, the complete, 86-page long data analysis is included as an appendix to the report.
The community engagement findings have been integrated appropriately into various sections and sub-sections of the main document. A separate summary of the community engagement findings has been included as an appendix to the report. Drawing insights from the community engagement activities and sound planning practices relevant to Smithers' development context, the report provides a list of recommendations that are crucial to improving the housing scenario in Smithers over the next five years.
At its January 12th, 2021, Regular Meeting, the Town of Smithers Council adopted the Housing Needs Report from SPARC BC, the consulting firm working on the project.
Please click here to view the Town of Smithers Housing Needs Report (2020)
Affordable Housing Incentive Policy:
Although not a UBCM requirement, the consultant is currently working with staff, drafting an Affordable Housing Incentive Policy for the Town. Based on an incentive-based approach to tackling housing affordability issues in Smithers, the policy will set guidelines to streamline the creation of affordable dwelling units in the future.
Liquor & Cannabis Licensing
The Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) regulates British Columbia's liquor industries and private retail non-medical cannabis industries throughout the Province, including the issuance of the liquor and retail non-medical cannabis licenses. As part of the LCLB application process for liquor licenses, the branch requires input from the local government. As part of the LCLB application process for retail non-medical cannabis licenses, the branch requests local government input. For both license categories, this input must be in the form of a Local Government Resolution passed by Council and based on public input.
Please click here to go to the Liquor & Cannabis Licensing webpage.
Highway Use Permit
These are required for any non-municipal uses within road right-of-ways, including lanes. For example: excavations, temporary closures/detours, signs/displays/seating areas. There is no cost for the application, but the Town may require a cash security for the duration of the project/event, which may be refunded in whole if there is no damage to Town infrastructure.
Click here to view the Highway Use Permit Application Form.
If applicable, please complete the Sketch of Proposed Use Within a Highway Right-of-Way to accompany your application.
Some events may require a “Special Events Permit” through the Recreation, Parks and Culture Department.
Temporary Use Permits
A Temporary Use Permit (TUP) is an approval from Council for a temporary land use that does not conform to the Zoning Bylaw. A TUP may be issued for up to 3 years and can be renewed once by Council for an additional 3 years.
For more information, please contact the Development Services Department at 847-1600.
Click to view the following documents:
- 2012 Community Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Plan
- 2012 Corporate Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Plan
- 2012 Sustainable Resiliency Plan
- Official Community Plan
- Planning for a Vibrant Downtown Smithers - Charrette Report
- Age Friendly Assessment and Action Plan
Secondary Suites & Carriage Houses
Secondary suites and carriage houses are great opportunities for homeowners to construct rental housing in the Town of Smithers. The below information provides an overview of the regulations pertaining to secondary suites and carriage houses.
A secondary suite is an additional dwelling unit located within a single family home that complies with the BC Building Code and Town bylaws. If you are interested in constructing a new secondary suite within your home or bringing an existing secondary suite into compliance, please review the following:
- 4 Steps to a Secondary Suites
- Technical Requirements for Secondary Suites
- Town of Smithers Secondary Suites Policy DEV-012
A carriage house is a self-contained dwelling that is constructed as a separate building to a single family home. Carriage houses are permitted on R-2 zoned properties as shown on the Town of Smithers Zoning Map. You qualify for a carriage house if:
- There is an existing single family home on the property.
- There is not already a secondary suite, home occupation or boarding use within the home or on the property.
- You have sufficient space to build a carriage house in order to meet the setbacks, parcel coverage and parking
If you are interested in constructing a carriage house on your property, please review the following:
For more information on secondary suites or carriage houses, please contact the Development Services Department at 250-847-1600.
What is a Building Permit?
Building Permits regulate various types of building construction that are allowed in the Town of Smithers and ensure compliance with the BC Building Code, Building Bylaw, Zoning Bylaw and other Town Bylaws. The Building Permit process protects both the owner's interests and those of the community at large. Failure to obtain proper Building Permits can result in costly construction delays, legal action and/or the removal of work already completed.
How do I know if I require a Building Permit?
Before beginning your project, we recommend you discuss your plans with the Town of Smithers Building Inspector who can confirm necessary permits and plans. Generally, you will need a permit if you wish to:
- Build any kind of structure larger than 10 square metres (107 sq. ft.).
- Alter, renovate, or adding onto existing buildings/structures, including interior plumbing.
- Excavate or construct a foundation.
- Install a heating, ventilation, air conditioning unit or wood stove.
- Change a use or occupancy of a building.
- Construct a retaining wall which retains more than 1.5 metres of fill.
- Demolish or move a building.
When don't I need a Building Permit?
Building permits are not required for non-structural minor modifications such as:
- Esthetic renovations (i.e. painting, replacing carpet).
- Replacing windows that are the same size and location.
- Fencing (Zoning Bylaw contains permitted height and setbacks).
- Sidewalks or landscaping on private property.
What should I consider before applying?
Things you should consider before applying include:
- Review the Development Process Flowchart
- Check the zoning of the property to ensure your intended use is permitted and the required setbacks, site coverage, and height requirements are met. If your project does not meet zoning standards, a rezoning or development variance permit application may be required.
- Check to see if your property is located within a development permit area. If so, a development permit may be required before a building permit can be issued.
- Review the Subdivision Servicing and Development Standards Bylaw for any required frontage improvements.
- Check for the location of services i.e. water, storm, and sanitary sewer (BC One Call 1-800-474-6886).
- Check for easements or right-of-ways on your property.
- Confirm driveway location and slope (max 10%).
- SAFERhome Standards Information Page.
- Fire Department Response Time.
What do I need to provide in order to obtain a Building Permit?
In order to obtain a Building Permit, the following should be provided:
- Building Permit application (hard copies available at the Town Office) and application fee.
- Site Plan (2 copies) which identifies the lot shape, size, driveway location, existing buildings, setbacks and project location.
- Notice to All Builders and Developers - Building Setbacks
- Building plans (2 copies) illustrating elevation and floor plans and cross sections.
As of August 2020, the Town of Smithers will now be requiring plans designed and sealed by a Registered Architect for any of the buildings outlined in Bulletin 31 from the Architects Act.
- Bulletin 31: Buildings Requiring the Services of an Architect
- Background Information: Building Permits Subject to Architects Act
Depending on your project, the following may also be required:
- Home Owner Protection Office approval for new residences (1-604-646-7050).
- Truss layout including engineered details.
- Form 'M' Owners Undertaking of Building Foundation.
- Foundation design prepared and signed by a registered professional accompanied by letters of assurance in the form of Schedule B-1 and B-2.
- Complex Building Notice to Owner if the building will be classified as being used for major occupancies.
How much does it cost?
The application fee is $35.00 for residential buildings and $50.00 for all other buildings. The total fee is calculated by the value of construction. The applicant submits a construction value and the building inspector calculates an estimate according to the plans submitted.
Value between $1 and $1,000,000 = $6.25 per $1,000 of total
Value over $1,000,000 = $5.50 per $1,000 of total
Additional costs may include the installation of a water meter or service connection.
How long will it take to get a Building Permit?
Most permits can be issued in 1-10 working days depending on the complexity of the project and completeness of the documents submitted.
What happens after I apply?
When you pick up your approved Building Permit, you will be given a list of required inspections. Inspections should be called at every stage of work during the building process, before the work is covered up by the next stage. All work should be substantially complete before you request an inspection. To schedule an appointment call the Development Services Clerk at (250) 847-1600.
In addition to inspections, you must:
- Post your building permit in a visible location.
- Keep a copy of the approved plans on site.
- Bring any changes to the attention of the Building Inspector.
Click here for more information.
Engineering and Mapping
All required off-site works and services must be completed in accordance with Bylaw No. 1800 - Subdivision Servicing and Development Standards.
Certain properties in the Town of Smithers are designated as Development Permit Areas (DPA). The Official Community Plan contains guidelines and requirements for the two types of DPAs in Smithers: Environmental and Form & Character. For properties located within a DPA, a Development Permit (DP) may be required prior to subdividing land or obtaining a Building Permit.
- Gerneral Overview of Development Permit Areas (excerpt from the Official Community Plan)
- Development Process Flowchart
Form & Character Development Permit Areas
- Form and Character DPA Overview & Guidelines (excerpt from the Official Community Plan)
- Map of Form and Character DPA
- Form and Character DP Application Guide
- Form and Character DP Application
- Alpine Theme Guidelines
Environmental Development Permit Areas
- Environmental DPA Overview & Guideline (excerpt from the Official Community Plan)
- Map of Environmental DPA
- Environmental DP Application Guide
- Environmental DP Application
Helpful resources regarding development on flood hazard lands
The B.C. Government has prepared the following guidance and planning documents to assist local governments, land use mangers and approving officers in developing land use management plans and making subdivision approval decisions in flood hazard areas:
- Designated Floodplain Areas – Skeena Region
- Flood Hazard Map User Guide
- Flood Hazard Area Land Use Management Guidelines (These guidelines are the minimum requirements in the absence of a local flood plain bylaw).
- APEG Professional Practice Guidelines - Legislated Flood Assessments in BC
- Guidance For Selection of Qualified Professionals and Preparation of Flood Hazard Assessment Reports
Changes to an approved Development Permit may require a Development Permit Amendment Application to be submitted. For more information, please contact the Development Services Department at 847-1600.
A subdivision alters the legal property boundaries of a parcel of land and includes dividing a property into smaller parcels, consolidating several parcels into one, creating a bare land strata or changing the alignment of an existing property line. All required works and services must be completed in accordance with Subdivision Servicing & Development Standards Bylaw No. 1800.
- Subdivision Application Guide
- Preliminary Application to Subdivide
- Final Subdivision Application
- Site Profile
A strata conversion occurs when a previously occupied building is converted to strata title ownership. The Strata Property Act, Zoning Bylaw and Council Policies control the strata conversions in the Town of Smithers.
For more information, please contact the Development Services Department at 847-1600.
OCP & Zoning
An Official Community Plan (OCP) is a general statement of the broad objectives and policies of the local government respecting the character of existing and proposed land use and servicing requirements in the area covered by the Plan. The OCP serves as the foundation for all policies, regulations, and decisions pertaining to land use and development in a municipality. Each property in Town has been assigned an OCP designation that defines the approximate or desired location of land uses such as residential, commercial, industrial, parks and open space, etc.
- Official Community Plan Bylaw No. 1614 *consolidated December 11, 2019
- Map 1: Provincial Context
- Map 2: Planning Area
- Map 3: Parks, Open Space, and Recreation
- Map 4: Servicing and Infrastructure
- Map 5: Road Network
- OCP Map - Schedule A: Land Use Map
- Schedule B: Environmental Development Permit Areas
- Schedule C: Form and Character Development Permit Areas
- Official Community Plan Update Information
The Zoning Bylaw is used by the Town to regulate the use of land and to implement the policies in the OCP. It states what land uses are permitted in the community and provides information such as where buildings may be located, density requirements, and standards for lot size, parking requirements and building height.
- Zoning Bylaw No. 1403 *Consolidated September 3, 2020
- Zoning Map (Schedule "A" to Bylaw No. 1403) *Consolidated May 12, 2020
When is an OCP and/or Zoning amendment necessary?
Rezoning is a process of changing one zone to another. When a development is proposed, including constructing new buildings or changing the types of activities that occur on a property, the owner must check the zoning regulations for that property. If the existing zone does not permit the proposed development then it is necessary to apply for a rezoning. A rezoning cannot be approved contrary to the OCP; therefore, an OCP amendment may also be required. The rezoning and OCP amendment occur together as one process.
- OCP and Zoning Amendment Application Guide
- OCP and/or Zoning Amendment Application
- Posting a Notification Sign
- Site Profile
- Development Process Flow Chart
For more information, please contact the Development Services Department at (250) 847-1600.
Development Variance Permits
Development Variance Permit
A Development Variance Permit (DVP) is an approval from Council to vary the bylaw regulation(s) of zoning, subdivision servicing, or signage for non-conforming development approvals. A Development Variance Permit cannot vary use or density of land specified in a bylaw.
Board of Variance
The Board of Variance (BOV) is a quasi-judicial body separate from the Local Government with its own authority under the Local Government Act.
The Board of Variance (BOV) for the Town of Smithers is an appointed body that has the authority to grant a minor variance to certain provisions of Town bylaws cause a person undue hardship. A BOV cannot vary use or density of land specified in a bylaw; result in inappropriate development of the site; adversely affect the natural environment; or substantially affect the use and enjoyment of the adjacent land.
A Board of Variance application must begin with a discussion with the Development Services Department. We can confirm that your proposed variance is a legal option, inform you of the acceptability of the variance, and provide you with details of the process.
What are the provisions of the Town Bylaws that can be varied by the BOV?
According to Section 540 of the Local Government Act, a person may apply to a board of variance if the person alleges that compliance with any of the following provision would cause the person undue hardship:
a) a bylaw respecting the siting, size or dimensions of a building or other structure, OR the siting of a manufactured home in a manufactured home park;
b) a subdivision servicing requirement under section 506 (1) (c) [provision of water, sewer and other systems] in an area zoned for agricultural or industrial use;
c) the prohibition of a structural alteration or addition under section 531 (1) [restrictions on alteration or addition while non-conforming use continued];
d) a bylaw under section 8 (3) (c) [fundamental powers — trees] of the Community Charter, other than a bylaw that has an effect referred to in section 50 (2) [restrictions on authority — preventing all uses] of that Act if the council has taken action under subsection (3) of that section to compensate or mitigate the hardship that is caused to the person
e) The owner of land subject to a bylaw adopted under section 548 [early termination of land use contracts] may apply to the BOV for an order under subsection 5 of Section 543 if the owner alleges that the timing of the termination of the land use contract by the bylaw would cause the owner hardship, and the application is received by the board of variance within 6 months after the adoption of the bylaw. (Section 543 of LGA)
f) A person may apply to the BOV for an order under Sec. 544 (2) if the person alleges that the determination by a building inspector of the amount of damage under section 532 (1) [end of non-conforming use protection if building of other structure is seriously damaged] is in error (Section 544 of the LGA).
As per Section 542 of the local government act, the board of variance must not grant a variance that would do any of the following:
a) be in conflict with a covenant registered under section 219 of the Land Title Act or section 24A of the Land Registry Act, R.S.B.C. 1960, c. 208;
b) deal with a matter that is covered in a land use permit or covered in a land use contract;
c) deal with a matter that is covered by a phased development agreement under Division 12 [Phased Development Agreements];
d) deal with a flood plain specification under section 524 (3);
e) apply to a property
I. for which an authorization for alterations is required under Part 15 [Heritage Conservation],
II. for which a heritage revitalization agreement under section 610 is in effect, or
III. that is scheduled under section 614 (3) (b) [protected heritage property] or contains a feature or characteristic identified under section 614 (3) (c) [heritage value or character].