Environmental Development Permit Area

The Environmental Development Permit Area (EDPA) was adopted by Saanich Council on March 12, 2012.  On June 12, 2017, Saanich Council amended the EDPA to temporarily exempt single family RS-zoned properties from the requirements of the EDPA (except when a subdivision  application is involved).  If you have questions about whether your development proposal is exempt from the EDPA, please contact Environmental Services.

Updates to the EDPA Atlas

On October 2, 2017, Council will consider proposed updates to the EDPA Atlas for a subsequent Public Hearing.  The report and maps illustrating the proposed amendments can be seen here: 

EDPA Independent Review Process

Council received an independent review of the EDPA by Diamond Head Consulting Ltd. on July 24th, 2017.  The opportunity for further public feedback on the report will take place at a Special Committee of the Whole meeting on Saturday, October 28, 2017 at 10 a.m. in the Fieldhouse at G.R. Pearkes Recreation Centre - 3100 Tillicum Road.


  • Protect our areas of highest biodiversity.
  • Require mitigation during development.
  • Require restoration to damaged or degraded ecosystems during development.

General Information

Common Questions

Why are the EDPAs important in Saanich?

Residents know that we live in one of the most beautiful places in Canada. Many don’t know that we also have many of British Columbia’s threatened and endangered species. For example, Garry Oak ecosystems are one of the top three most endangered habitats in Canada. The EDPA protects these at-risk and ecologically-fragile ecosystems.

Very little of our land remains unaltered. The Crown owns most of the land in many other areas of BC. Most land in Saanich is privately owned. We are fortunate to publicly own 52% of the land in the EDPA. High land values and increased development pressure keep us from creating new protected areas. This makes private land stewardship vitally important. 

As residents, we play an essential role. We can restore and recreate habitat. What we can’t protect now, we’ll lose forever.

What areas are included in the EDPA?

The EDPA includes Environmentally Significant Areas (ESAs) and buffers. Buffers can be natural, or lawns and homes or may be developed in the future. We include buffers so that new activities next to ESAs do not harm them. 

We used five inventories to identify ESAs in the EDPA. You can see many of them on our public GIS mapping system. See below for more information on the inventories.

To see the maps, view the official EDPA Atlas.

The EDPA does not include streams and riparian areas. These already appear in the Streamside Development Permit Area.

How accurate is EDPA mapping?

We continually work to update and refine the mapping with new data, new technology and landscape changes. We wrote EDPA Guidelines to allow staff to exempt proposals shown to be outside of the EDPA without delay or further process. Staff do the majority of the fine-tuning at landowner request. Over time, the EDPA Atlas will become more accurate as staff take proposed amendments to Council.

If you feel that the EDPA mapping on your property can be improved, please contact Saanich Environmental Services.  This factsheet [PDF - 405 KB] will assist you through the process.

If you feel that your property does not belong in the EDPA and should be removed from the bylaw, please see this factsheet [PDF - 406 KB] to apply.  You will need to fill out these forms:

What inventories do you base the EDPA on?

Sensitive Ecosystem Inventory, 2002

  • Federal/Provincial inventory by Environment Canada and Ministry of Environment.
  • Sensitive ecosystems including woodlands, coastal bluff, older forest and others.

Conservation Data Centre

  • Ministry of Environment.
  • Tracks red and blue listed and rare ecosystems, plants and animals.
  • Publishes maps, status reports and other information.

Wildlife Trees

  • Wildlife Tree Stewardship Program (Federation of BC Naturalists).
  • These trees house Bald Eagle and Great Blue Heron nests and more.

Isolated Wetlands and Watercourses, 2010

  • District of Saanich
  • Provide important habitat but don't have fish.

Saanich Marine Inventory, 2000

  • District of Saanich and the Veins of Life Watershed Society.

When do I need an Environmental Development Permit?

The Local Government Act prohibits the alteration of land, subdivision and construction within an environmental development permit area unless you have an exemption or permit.

Contact Saanich Environmental Services to discuss your project. We will identify exemptions like:

  • Hazardous trees
  • Existing garden and landscaping maintenance
  • Existing lawn mowing
  • Picnic tables, benches, swing sets etc.
  • Small outbuildings like a gazebo or shed
  • Invasive plant removal
  • Environmental projects
  • Agriculture
  • Slope stabilization
  • Planting native plants
  • Existing structure repairs and maintenance
  • Rebuilding on existing foundations
  • Low-impact paths and fences
  • Natural state covenant areas
  • Projects outside the ESA boundary
  • Vegetation management in fire interfaces

If I don’t have an exemption, what activities need a permit?

  • Removal, alteration, disruption or destruction of vegetation.
  • Removal, deposit or disturbance of soils.
  • Construction or erection of buildings and structures.
  • Creation of non-structural impervious or semi-impervious surfaces.
  • Construction of roads, trails, docks, wharves and bridges.
  • Provision and maintenance of sewer and water services.
  • Subdivision of land where there is the potential to create conditions for impacts to an ESA.

EDPA Guidelines

Please follow our guidelines [PDF - 194 KB] when you want to develop or alter land. See the table below:



Guidelines that Apply

Sensitive Ecosystems 10 m 1 to 5
Red and blue listed animals, plants and ecological communities No additional buffer 1, 3-5
Wildlife Trees No additional buffer 1, 3-5
Isolated wetlands and watercourses 10 m as measured from the natural boundary 1 to 5
Marine Backshore (as measured from the natural boundary) 15 m 1 to 5


Application Forms

Part 1

Part 2


You may need to plant native vegetation as a condition of your development permit. We have two lists to help you choose appropriate plants.

Where can I get more information?

Please contact Environmental Services in our Planning Department. They can discuss site specific circumstances and assess if you need an Environmental Development Permit.