Wildfire Hazard Regulations

Considering renovations to the outside of your home or making changes to your landscaping or yard?
If so, this is a great opportunity to make your home and property FireSmart to protect it from the threat of wildfires.

The District has recently adopted wildfire hazard regulations, including a Wildfire Development Permit Area and a Wildfire Landscaping Management Bylaw, to help protect the community. 

Wildfire Development Permit Area (DPA)

The purpose of the Wildfire Development Permit Area (DPA) is to protect development from wildfire hazards. New development occurring within wildfire hazard areas must obtain a permit and meet a set of guidelines focused on fire-resistive building materials and landscaping.

View the Wildfire DPA guidelines and map of the hazard areas here.

Wildfire Landscaping Management Bylaw

Wildfire hazard risk is impacted by the types of landscaping that surround your home. To reduce fire hazards in yards and neighbourhoods, the District has adopted a Wildfire Landscaping Management Bylaw which regulates landscaping within a 10-metre area surrounding buildings and structures.

Key elements of the bylaw include the:

  • Prohibition of planting new Juniper, Cedar and Yew which are the top 3 worst offenders (from a flammability perspective!)  
  • Spacing out of fire-prone trees and shrubs (avoid clumping flammable plants together, and place fire-resistant plants in between
  • Maintenance of a 1.5 metre (5 foot) separation between fire-prone trees and shrubs to buildings (including a 5-foot buffer from roofs and under eaves) 

Wondering what you should or shouldn't plant? Not sure what a fire-prone tree is or what a fire-resistant plant is? View the FireSmart Landscaping Guide for tips on choosing and planting trees and shrubs.

No new cedar or yew hedges are allowed in the District going forward, but you can maintain your existing hedge! Check out the Wildfire DPA Compliant Hedge Alternatives Guide to discover the many alternatives to cedar hedging.

View the full Wildfire Landscaping Management Bylaw here. 

An FAQ is provided at the bottom of this page to help answer your questions on the Wildfire Hazard Regulations.

Question not answered or want to find out more about the Wildfire DPA or Wildfire Landscaping Management Bylaw?
Contact the Planning Department at planning@squamish.ca

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Wildfire DPA and Landscaping Management Bylaw 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 private 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 landscaping 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 (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 applies 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 is required for all development activity (some exemptions 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 trigger the Wildfire DP?

    If your property is within the Wildfire DPA and you are planning to do a subdivision that creates more than 2 new lots, a multi-family development, or a commercial or industrial development, then a Wildfire Development Permit would be triggered. Note that some exemptions apply, particularly for single-family homes and duplexes (see exemption FAQ section for more on this).   

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

    This wildfire DPA has guidelines that apply to multi-family, commercial and industrial development.

    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. using fire-resistant siding).
    • 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. covering openings).
    • Chimneys (e.g. using spark arrestors).
  • How does the Wildfire DPA affect landscaping around homes?

    The DPA guidelines for landscaping are based on FireSmart best practices 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 multi-family, commercial or industrial development.

    Landscaping guidelines include:

    • Avoiding planting flammable trees, shrubs and plants (including cedar, yew and juniper).
    • Ensuring there are no trees or limbs overhanging roofs or growing under the eaves of buildings.
    • Spacing and separating fire-prone shrubs and trees.
    • Removing hazardous woody debris (e.g. slash piles from land clearing).

    Note that the District has also adopted a Wildfire Landscape Management Bylaw that applies FireSmart landscaping best practices to existing and new single-family homes along with existing multi-family, commercial and industrial development.  

  • How does 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 does 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, you will need to fill out a Land Development Application and pay the permit application fee. A site plan, building materials and landscape plan must be submitted with the application. District staff will review the application for conformance with the DPA guidelines. If the proposed work meets the guidelines, staff will recommend approval of the DP by the Director of Community Planning. The permit will 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, existing and new single-family homes and duplexes are exempt as long as a new or replacement roof uses fire-resistant (Class A or B) roofing material.  

    Triplexes, multi-family, commercial, industrial and mixed-use development are not exempt.

    There are additional exemptions listed in section 44.5.a. of the Wildfire DPA. If you have questions on whether your project is exempt, contact District staff at [email protected]



  • What is the intent of the Wildfire Landscaping Management Bylaw?

    The intent of the Wildfire Landscaping Management Bylaw is to help Squamish residents make smarter, fire-resistant landscaping choices when it comes to planting new trees and shrubs on their property. The goal of this Bylaw is to ensure all Squamish residents are aware of the significant risk associated with having fire-prone vegetation within close proximity to one's home or building. The Bylaw aims to educate the community about these risks and provide guidance to support Squamish residents in managing their landscaping to build resiliency as a FireSmart community over the next decades.

  • What is the Wildfire Landscaping Management Bylaw?

    The Wildfire Landscaping Management Bylaw is a new bylaw designed to complement the Wildfire Development Permit Area (DPA). The Bylaw will regulate both the installation of new landscaping and the maintenance of existing landscaping. It is based on FireSmart landscaping best practices.

  • How will the Wildfire Landscaping Management Bylaw affect me?

    The Wildfire Landscaping Management Bylaw applies to both new and existing landscaping anywhere within 10 metres of buildings and structures located within the District of Squamish, including around existing homes. 

    The Bylaw prohibits the planting of new juniper, cedar and yew trees and shrubs within 10 metres of buildings and structures.

    The Bylaw requires that existing fire-prone trees and shrubs be maintained (i.e. trimmed back) to ensure a 1.5 metre separation between the outer trim of the plant and the outer edge of any building structure.

    Additional regulations include lawn maintenance (keep grass mowed to under 20cm), and the removal of fire-prone debris after landscaping and clearing activities that generate piles of flammable materials such as tree removal or pruning. 

    Additional regulations that affect planting or installing new landscaping include ensuring separation between fire-prone shrubs, fire-prone trees, and buildings.

    Check out the FireSmart Landscaping Guide here for useful tips on what to plant and where. 

  • Would I need to remove my existing landscaping under the Wildfire Landscaping Management Bylaw?

    No, residents will not need to remove existing landscaping under the Wildfire Landscaping Management Bylaw. Landscaping that exists at the time the Bylaw is adopted can remain in place. However, if existing vegetation grows in size and therefore becomes a bylaw violation, it will need to be maintained (pruned or trimmed) in order to achieve compliance. For example, if a tree had an outer trim that was previously located 1.5 metres from a structure but grew so that its branches encroached within 1.5 metres from the structure, those branches would need to be trimmed.

    Key provisions such as ensuring a 1.5 m separation between the outer trim of fire-prone vegetation and the outer edge of any building structure, and removing any fire-prone vegetation that is located under building eaves are critical steps residents should take to protect their homes from wildfires.


  • Can I plant a new cedar or yew hedge under the Wildfire Landscaping Management Bylaw?

    If the plant is located within 10 metres of a building or structure, the answer is no.

    If the plant is not located within 10 metres of a building or structure, the answer is yes.

    Under the Wildfire Landscaping Management Bylaw, planting new juniper, cedar or yew is not allowed within 10 metres of buildings and structures. 

    Many alternatives to the cedar or yew hedge are available and outlined in this wildfire compliant hedge alternatives document.

  • What can I plant?

    There are many attractive fire-resistant trees and shrubs that can be planted used within 10 metres of a building or structure.

    The FireSmart Landscaping Guide includes resources and information including a list of FireSmart plants and best practices, how FireSmart landscaping works, plant flammability, leaf types and more.

    If you are interested in planting a privacy hedge, there are many FireSmart options, such as boxwood, that could be planted to achieve this. A number of these options are outlined in our Guide to Wildfire DPA Compliant Hedges.


  • Under the Wildfire Landscaping Management Bylaw, if one or more of the trees in my existing row of cedar hedges die, could I fill in the gaps by replacing them with new cedars?

    If the hedges are located within 10 metres of a building or structure, the answer is no

    If the hedges are not located within 10 metres of a building or structure, the answer is yes. 

    This applies to existing landscaping only. If you are seeking to replace trees within an existing privacy hedge, or if you are considering planting a new privacy hedge, there are many FireSmart options that are available for this specific purpose. A number of these options are outlined in our Wildfire DPA Compliant Hedges Examples.

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