Board of Variance

Board of Variance

In accordance with the Local Government Act, the Town of Qualicum Beach has established a 3-member Board of Variance so that applicants may obtain relief from certain types of requirements established by Town bylaws.

Board members are volunteers appointed by the Town of Qualicum Beach Council for a three-year term. Advisory Planning Commission members and officers or employees of the Town of Qualicum Beach are not eligible.

The Board operates independently from Council and is regulated by bylaws, the Community Charter and the Local Government Act.


The Board may grant minor variances or exemptions from a:
  • bylaw respecting siting, dimensions or size of a building or structure or the siting of a manufactured home in a manufactured home park;
  • prohibition of a structural alteration or addition for legal non-conforming uses;
  • bylaw for subdivision servicing requirements in an area zoned for agricultural use or industrial use;
  • bylaw for tree cutting prohibition and regulation and significant tree bylaws.
To qualify for a variance, the applicant must prove undue hardship. For example, an undue hardship may be a unique land or parcel shape challenge. Also, did the applicant knowingly create the hardship? Hardship variances must not conflict with Land Title Act or Land Registry Act covenants, apply to heritage property designated by the Town, deal with a matter covered in a land use contract or Town permit, or deal with a floodplain specification.

An applicant can also appeal to the Board for a new determination of the extent of damage to a structure containing a legal non-conforming use, to allow reconstruction after damage or destruction.


After Town staff advise you:
  • that you cannot obtain a building permit due to non-conformance with bylaws;
  • of the subdivision servicing requirements that apply to your agricultural or industrial property;
  • of tree bylaw requirements; or,
  • of a determination of damage with which you disagree.

You should first review options with Town staff and determine if you wish to apply. Your options include adjusting plans to conform to the bylaw, applying to the Board for a variance or exemption, or applying to Council for a Development Variance Permit, which would not require proof of hardship and is not limited to minor variances.


If you wish to apply, submit your Board of Variance application form and fee ($150.00) with required attachments to Town Hall at least two weeks before the Hearing. The Board meets in the Council Chamber, Town Hall on the first Thursday each month. Forms are available at Town Hall.

DO NOT CONTACT BOARD MEMBERS PERSONALLY. Board members may visit the site prior to the hearing but must not hear evidence outside of the hearing.

ARE YOU A NEIGHBOUR? Applicants are encouraged to discuss their plans with their neighbors.

The Board's Secretary (the Town's Corporate Administrator), will send adjacent property owners/tenants notice of the hearing. Copies of the notice, agenda, application and written submissions are available at Town Hall.

If you feel affected by the appeal, you may choose to speak at the hearing or send a letter to the Board.


Board hearings are informal processes, open to the public. At the hearing, the applicant or the applicant's agent should describe their request and answer questions from the Board. The Board will provide an opportunity to speak, to the applicant and any other parties who wish to speak. Interested parties can also submit written comments about the application.

At the meeting, the Board may order a minor variance if the Board believes the variance or exemption will not:

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

After hearing interested parties, the Board may immediately make their decision by majority vote. The Board may specify a time limit for completion of construction and specifically reference the plans or purpose in its variance order.

Decisions of the Board are final except determination of damages, which you, or the Town of Qualicum Beach, can appeal to the Supreme Court.

WE'RE HERE TO HELP... Please visit Town Hall to obtain copies of pertinent bylaws and application forms or to review Board of Variance hearing agendas or minutes. Staff are available to answer your questions regarding municipal regulations and the process to apply to or present to the Board of Variance. Copies of the Board of Variance bylaw, Local Government Act and Community Charter are also available for review.

The Town's Planning and Corporate Administration Departments provide support in processing applications and maintaining records for the Board.

The Planning Department interprets zoning regulations and responds to questions regarding the Land Use and Subdivision Bylaw No. 580, 1999 and Development Application Procedures and Fees Bylaw No. 605, 2007.

More Information


Qualicum Beach Planning Department
Phone: 250.752.6921

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