Smart Bylaws Guide for British Columbia Municipalities:

Posted January 2006

Courtesy of West Coast Environmental Law

Many municipalities and developers in B.C. are emerging as North American leaders in smart growth practices at the regional and local scale. Residents are demanding more choices in housing, and in the quality of neighbourhoods and job opportunities. Bounded by ocean, mountains, rivers, and working lands, communities are also being forced to use land more efficiently to stop urban sprawl, revitalize commercial centres, and maintain a working land base.

In recognition of this leadership role, West Coast Environmental Law has developed a comprehensive web-based Smart Bylaws Guide to help local governments implement smart growth strategies through policy and bylaw changes. It describes smart growth practices, and backs up the theory with case studies, technical standards, and bylaws that can be tailored to specific municipal circumstances. The guide brings together the good practices of municipalities across B.C., and highlights innovators in the U.S.

The Smart Bylaws Guide can help local governments:

  • Create urban containment boundaries and preserve agricultural land;
  • Create more compact complete communities where services and residential uses are integrated into walkable neighbourhoods;
  • Assess the look and impact of increasing densities;
  • Implement affordable housing strategies;
  • Integrate “green infrastructure” into neighbourhood design; and
  • Ensure that the cost impacts of different types of development are properly addressed.

Leaders in the development industry, municipal governance, and sustainable communities are recognizing the value of the Smart Bylaws Guide. “It is great to have a central resource and access to this type of information for all sectors and citizens interested in smart growth strategies,” states Allison Habkirk, Mayor of Central Saanich. “The Smart Bylaws Guide is also an efficient way for elected officials to easily gain an overview of these issues.”

Michael Geller, president and CEO of the Simon Fraser University Trust, says that, “Many architects, planners and developers would like to build more sustainable communities and buildings, if only the applicable zoning bylaws and other codes would let them. I am confident that this excellent guide will contribute to a review of outdated and inappropriate regulations, and thus result in more sustainable development throughout British Columbia.”

Since its launch, the Smart Bylaws Guide has been used by planners across Canada, and has already been included in three academic curricula.

To access the guide, click on: Smart Bylaws Guide. For printed copies of the Smart Bylaws Summary ($10.00 + GST per copy), contact West Coast Environmental Law via email at or by phone at 604-684-7378 or 1-800 330-9235.