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Electoral Area B: Cortes – Zoning Bylaw Review

Cortes Zoning Bylaw Review Engagement Sessions

Thank you to all Cortes community members who attended the Zoning Bylaw Review Engagement Sessions! It was great to see such a high level of interest and participation. The thoughtful feedback and comments received will inform the development of a draft Zoning Bylaw, which will be available for public review soon.

The SRD hosted various engagement opportunities to gather feedback and ideas from residents on key topics to be addressed in the Zoning Bylaw:

  • Short-Term Rentals Survey
  • Public Open House on:
    • Density
    • Housing
    • Short Term Rentals
    • Aquaculture/ Water Use Zones
    • Cannabis Land Uses
  • Two Community Conversation meetings (1 in person and 1 virtual)

If you missed these engagement sessions, it is not too late to provide comments!

Please email with your questions and comments.

For answers to common questions on the Zoning Bylaw review, please see the Frequently Asked Questions page HERE >.

Project Launch

The Strathcona Regional District (SRD) is pleased to announce the re-launch of the process to develop an updated Zoning Bylaw for Area B, Cortes Island!

In 2018, the Strathcona Regional District (SRD) initiated a process to review and update the Zoning Bylaw for Electoral Area B, which includes lands and waters in and around Cortes Island. After a series of delays, the Zoning Bylaw is now ready for a refresh. The Cortes Island Zoning bylaw has not been updated since 2002. Given the age of the document, a full review of the bylaw is needed to ensure it is compliant with changes in legislation and reflects the vision, goals, objectives and policies of the Cortes Island Official Community Plan which was developed with the community between 2010 and 2012.

The Zoning Bylaw and the Cortes Island Official Community Plan (OCP)

The Cortes Island OCP was reviewed with the community in 2010 and 2011 and an updated plan was adopted in early 2012.

The OCP identifies the community’s long-term vision and goals, objectives and specific policies for land use on Cortes Island. It guides the Strathcona Regional District board when reviewing development applications and making land use decisions that affect the island.

The updated OCP guides updates to the zoning bylaw since the zoning bylaw needs to reflect the OCP. A few of the guiding principles of the OCP are:

  • Support development that is mindful of the capacity of the land and that does not disturb Cortes’ rural character;
  • Maintain a supply of land for commercial development in suitable locations;
  • Maintain a balance between regulation of land use and the desire for a lifestyle that allows for a high degree of self-expression with respect to use of property;
  • Safeguard the island’s water supply;
  • Develop a transportation system that meets the needs of island residents and visitors and fits the island’s rural character;
  • Preserve the natural environment;
  • Safeguard the marine environment;
  • Support self-sufficiency and food security.

What is a zoning bylaw?

A zoning bylaw assigns zones to land and water within a local government jurisdiction, such as Cortes Island, and specifies what kind of development and activities are permitted within each zone.

For example, zoning may regulate the following on a property:

  • Land use (e.g. residential, agricultural, commercial or industrial)
  • The number of homes and secondary suites permitted on a property (“density”)
  • Maximum size and height of buildings and structures
  • Setbacks from lot lines
  • Minimum lot size
  • Maximum lot coverage
  • Home based businesses
  • And more.

Why do communities have zoning bylaws?

Zoning aims to ensure adjacent land uses are compatible by directing different types of land uses into different areas. Thanks to zoning, communities have commercial centres where services, retail and businesses are located, a variety of residential areas to meet different household needs, as well as agricultural, resource and industrial areas.

While zoning can separate uses, it can also encourage mixed uses. For example, zoning might allow for both residential and commercial development within village centres.

Cortes Island has a wide variety of upland land use zones. The types of upland zones on Cortes are:

  • Residential
  • Rural
  • Community Land Stewardship
  • Forest Land Stewardship
  • Community Services
  • Agricultural Land Stewardship
  • Forestry
  • Resource Commercial
  • Service Commercial
  • Tourist Recreational Commercial
  • Park
  • Industrial
  • Public Assembly

The zoning bylaw also has several zones that apply to areas of water:

  • Access (allowing for public or private moorage and/or navigational aids)
  • Aquaculture
  • Marine Commercial
  • Recreational Moorage
  • Water Conservancy

Within many of the above categories, there are two or more zones with small variations such as the number of dwellings permitted.

Is the new Zoning Bylaw written? 

  • The new zoning bylaw is not written, but information previously provided to us has been incorporated into current preliminary draft bylaw content. This project is not starting from scratch, but the input provided in the previous phase of the project is being used to assist with setting the stage and informing the initial consultation for this phase. The time and input community members have provided are valuable and the project team hopes this will continue in this next phase.
  • Cortes is a unique and special community with deep roots. Community input from the previous phase was essential to capturing the current and projected land use needs. This is fundamental to informing the final draft, which is expected to be completed in 2024.

What Will be New in this 2024 Draft?

Since the completion of the first draft in 2018, some new legislative changes have happened, meaning that the Zoning Bylaw draft will need to have a few sections either updated or included. These topics include:

  1. Short-Term Rentals
  2. Cannabis production and retail uses
  3. Housing and density
  4. Agriculture/Aquaculture


The SRD would like to extend a huge thank you to the people of Cortes Island for their Short-Term Rentals survey submissions.


Please see SRD’s Questions Posed & Answered by the Ministry of Housing


Thank you to all community members for attending the in-person Zoning Bylaw Review Dec 11 open house.  Attendees learnt about how a Zoning Bylaw works, the strengths and limitations of regulating a land use, and had their questions answered.

View Zoning Bylaw Open House – Poster Boards


For additional questions or further info, please contact the SRD Planning Department at 250-830-6718  |

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