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Board of Variance


A local government that has adopted a zoning bylaw must establish one or more Boards of Variance (BOV). A person may apply to the BOV for a minor variance if they feel compliance with the bylaw would cause them a hardship. For example, if a big rock in their yard made it a hardship to site the house in conformity with the normal setbacks- a person could apply for a minor variance.

In a municipality, a BOV will consist of three or five persons, depending upon the population size of the municipality. In a regional district there may be several BOV’s, one for each rural land use or zoning bylaw area and each one will have three members.

Each member is appointed for a three-year term by the municipal council or regional board but members of an Advisory Planning Commission or an officer or employee of the local government are prohibited from being appointed to a BOV. An appointment can be rescinded at any time.

Meetings of a BOV must be open to the public.

The BOV may grant a variance if they have considered the following factors and are of the opinion that the variance does not:

  • result in inappropriate development of the site
  • adversely affect the natural environment
  • substantially affect the use and enjoyment of the adjacent land
  • vary the permitted uses and densities or defeat the intent of the bylaw.

The BOV focuses primarily on hardship relating to matters such as siting, dimensions and size of buildings. They cannot conflict with other matters such as Land Title Act covenants, permits or land use contracts or floodplain bylaw specifications.

A decision of the BOV is final. However, there may be an appeal to the Supreme Court in the specific case where a person alleges that there has been an error by the building inspector in the determination of the amount of damage to a non-conforming building above its foundation (75% or more of its value).

A decision by a tribunal like a BOV may be assessed by the Courts under the Judicial Review Procedure Act if it alleged that proper procedure was not followed.


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