Wildfire Development Permit Area (DPA)

The District is creating a Wildfire Development Permit Area (DPA) for Squamish to help reduce the risk to public safety, property and the District’s forests from wildfire hazards.

Identified as one of the recommendations from the District's Community Wildfire Protection Plan, the Wildfire DPA would apply to properties that are at risk for wildfire. Development occurring within the Wildfire DPA would be required to obtain a Development Permit and meet a set of guidelines focused on fire-resistive building materials and landscaping.

Learn more and get involved:

Join us at one of two virtual workshops to learn more about the project and share your comments and concerns on these new wildfire regulations:

  • Session 1: Thursday, November 12 from 3 to 5 p.m. (This afternoon session is geared towards local developers and builders, however all are are welcome to join.) Register here. 
  • Session 2: Thursday, November 12 from 7 to 9 p.m. (This evening session is geared towards the general public.) Register here. 

Can't attend? Share your thoughts on the draft Wildfire DPA by completing this brief survey, open until November 30.

Launch the survey 

Wildfire DPA Guidelines

Wildfire DPA Map

Questions? Please contact our Planning Department at planning@squamish.ca

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Wildfire DPA FAQ

  • What is a Wildfire Development Permit Area?

    In general, under Provincial legislation, local governments can use Development Permit Areas to identify locations where special requirements and guidelines for development apply, to protect development from natural hazards. 

    The Wildfire Development Permit Area includes forests and properties that are at risk for wildfire. Development occurring within the Wildfire DPA would need to get a permit and meet a set of guidelines that specify accepted materials and methods to limit the development's vulnerability to wildfires and ember showers.   

  • Why do we need a Wildfire DPA?

    Wildfire risk continues to increase in the District with:

    • Ongoing development (risk of human caused ignitions and more development occurring adjacent to forests);
    • Current and increasing levels of fuel hazard (woody debris accumulating); and,
    • Fire seasons lengthening and more frequent extreme weather events occurring (potential climate change impacts).

    A Wildfire DPA will:

    • Ensure that new development is managed in a way that minimizes the risk to property and people from wildfire hazards, promotes activities to reduce wildfire hazards, and minimizes the risk of fire to the District’s forests;
    • Proactively manage conditions affecting potential fire behaviour to enhance fire suppression and containment and minimize adverse impacts;
    • Conserve the visual and ecological assets of the forest; and,
    • Reduce the risk of post-fire landslides, debris flows and erosion.

     

  • What areas of Squamish are subject to the Wildfire DPA?

    The Wildfire DPA will apply to most lands within the District of Squamish, given the large amount of forested areas and the close proximity of our neighbourhoods to these forests (as well as the strong winds that can spread wildfires and embers). 

    Review the Wildfire DPA Map.

    A Development Permit would be required for all development activity (some exemptions will apply) within the Wildfire DPA. 

  • What are the key elements of the Wildfire DPA?

    The first focus of the DPA guidelines is on building materials, with fire resistant materials used for roofs, cladding/exterior walls, and decks/porches/balconies.

    The second focus is on covering external building openings, including eaves, soffits, and vents. Chimneys should have spark arrestors. 

    The third focus is on landscaping adjacent to the building, with landscaping guidelines based on FireSmart best practices. 

  • What types of development or construction would trigger the Wildfire DP?

    If your property is within the Wildfire DPA and you are planning to do any construction, addition to or alteration of a building or structure, or you are planning to do a subdivision which would create two or more new lots, then a Wildfire Development Permit would be triggered. Note that some exemptions will apply (see exemption FAQ section for more on this).   

  • How would the Wildfire DPA affect building design and construction?

    This wildfire DPA has guidelines that apply to the construction of, addition to or alteration of a building or structure.

    Buildings must generally be constructed using fire-resistant materials and methods. 

    Building construction guidelines include:

    • Roofing materials (e.g. using Class A or B materials). 
    • Exterior cladding (e.g. cement board, metal, brick, etc.).
    • Overhanging projections (e.g. using fire-resistant materials for balconies and decks).
    • Exterior doors and windows (e.g. using non-combustible, or double-paned options).
    • Eaves, soffits, and vents (e.g. using metal materials and covering openings).
    • Chimneys (e.g. using spark arrestors).
  • How would the Wildfire DPA affect landscaping around homes?

    The DPA guidelines for landscaping are based on FireSmart principles about how to create defensible space around homes and structures, to reduce the possibility of fire ignition.

    Landscaping modifications apply to the area within 10 meters of a proposed building site or existing building footprint. 

    Landscaping guidelines include:

    • Avoiding planting flammable trees, shrubs and plants.
    • Ensuring there are no trees or limbs overhanging roofs or growing under the eaves of buildings.
    • Thinning the tree canopy and understory and pruning lower branches.
    • Spacing the tree canopy to at least 3 meters between trees.
    • Removing dead and dying trees (an assessment by a qualified professional is required for tree removal).
    • Removing hazardous woody debris (e.g. slash piles from land clearing). 
    • Additional fuel management guidelines apply where wildfire hazard levels are high. 
  • How would the Wildfire DPA affect new subdivisions?

    The Wildfire DPA has guidelines for subdivision development and design, which include specifications for:

    • Road system planning and design to ensure safe access and evacuation routes (e.g. ring roads or placing roads adjacent to forested areas).
    • Fire hydrant locations.
    • Applying development setbacks of 10 meters from natural features that increase wildfire risk (e.g. tops of ridgelines, steep slopes and cliffs).
  • How would the Wildfire DP application process work?

    If your property is included within the Wildfire DPA, discuss your proposed work with District staff early in the process. You will be advised whether the proposed work is exempt from the DPA, or whether a Wildfire Development Permit (DP) is needed.

    If a Wildfire DP is needed, a Land Development Application would be completed and fee paid. A site plan, building materials and landscape plan would be submitted with the application. District staff would review the application for conformance with the DPA guidelines. If the proposed work meets the guidelines, staff would recommend approval of the DP by the Director of Community Planning (who has delegated authority for permit approval and issuance). The permit would also be registered on the title of your property. You would then proceed through the building permit and construction process, following the terms and conditions of the permit. 

    Note that a Development Permit is NOT a Building Permit. A Development Permit must be obtained before a Building Permit or subdivision approval can occur.

    Development Permit processing time varies depending on whether or not there are any other DPs required, the completeness and accuracy of the application information submitted, and the overall complexity of the project. Once all information is received, the processing generally takes 4 – 8 weeks, but is dependent on current staff capacity and whether additional information is required to process the application. 

  • Are there any exemptions from the Wildfire DPA?

    Yes, there are exemptions proposed.

    Firstly, no guidelines will be applied to existing homes (that are not proposing or undergoing new construction, renovations or additions) within the Wildfire DPA. 

    A Development Permit will not be required for the following uses within the Wildfire DPA (note this is a condensed list, refer to the draft DPA for full verbatim list):

    • Subdivision that creates less than 3 new lots, as long as the subdivision is not adjacent to a wildfire interface area.
    • Any development on lands that already have a wildfire restrictive covenant registered on title.
    • Construction located within the Secondary Wildfire Hazard Areas (see DPA map), if the owner registers a wildfire restrictive covenant on title to ensure compliance with the wildfire DPA guidelines.
    • Development that doesn't trigger a building permit, except for a complete roof replacement.
    • Renovations to existing buildings, except for additions or complete roof replacement. 
    • Complete roof replacement with materials that are rated Class A or Class B fire resistance. 
    • Construction or placement of accessory buildings, except for accessory dwelling units (coach houses).
    • Construction of secondary suites within an existing dwelling unit (provided no addition to building is proposed)

     

     

  • When would the Wildfire DPA come into effect?

    While there is no date set for the Wildfire DPA to come into effect, the project timeline is as follows:

    1. Introduction to staff - occurred October 2019
    2. Development of the draft DPA map - occurred November 2019
    3. Introduction to Council - occurred January 2020
    4. Draft Wildfire DPA - currently underway (delayed due to COVID and staff capacity)
    5. Developer workshop - November 2020 
    6. Public workshop - November 2020
    7. Survey - November 2020
    8. Report to Council and progress update - December 2020
    9. Submission to Council for formal Bylaw readings - January 2021
    10. Anticipated adoption of Wildfire DPA - March 2021