Proper landscaping has many positive benefits and is a cost effective tool for improving the experience a place offers. The Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) works with property owners to ensure potential benefits from landscaping in Whistler are fully realized.
Landscaping enhances the connection between the built environment and its natural surroundings and provides tangible benefits including improved air quality and decreased soil erosion. Landscaping also improves aesthetics by softening the appearance of building edges, adding colour and screening less desirable views. Well maintained landscaping positively influences perceptions of comfort and safety and provides shady refuge options on summer days.
The following is a summary of the streamlined process for modifying existing landscaped areas on properties located in Development Permit Areas that are not in a “Riparian Assessment Area”. Alterations to landscaping in a “Riparian Assessment Area” require a Development Permit Application – Delegated. For simple tree thinning and limbing please see the related section below.
The following are the steps in the application process:
- Obtain a Development Permit Application – Landscape Alterations – Delegated application form (Delegated Development Permits may be approved by staff and do not require Council approval or review by the Advisory Design Panel);
- Contact the Planning Department to request a site visit with staff (phone 604-935-8170);
- Submit a completed application form with fee(s) and supporting information; and
- Submit landscape security if applicable.
Staff will contact the applicant to advise them of the decision on their application within two weeks of the applicant's submittal of a complete application.
In addition to the general requirements in the Development Permit Application – Landscape Alterations – Delegated application form, the application requires applicants to provide documentation specific to their proposal.
For landscape alternations pertaining to wildfire fuel management, the following are required:
- FireSmartTM Assessment – This is available free of charge from the RMOW's Protective Services Department. To book, contact Scott Rogers, FireSmart Coordinator at 604-966-4173 or email@example.com.
- Landscape Modification Prescription Report – This report must be done by a qualified tree professional and include a detailed prescription for the landscape modifications referenced in the FireSmartTM Assessment. It is recommended that the qualified tree professional read the memo to arborists and landscapers and meet on site with the FireSmart Coordinator before completing the above reports.
If your proposal includes landscape alterations on adjacent municipal lands, the private landowner is responsible for all application submittal requirements respecting the adjacent municipal lands and will have to enter into a contract with the RMOW for landscape alterations on the adjacent municipal lands. Contact Scott Rogers, FireSmart Coordinator at 604-966-4173 or firstname.lastname@example.org regarding contract requirements.
Additional information may be requested by staff during the site visit or following application submission depending on proposed alterations. Supplemental information could include a replacement landscaping submission and a narrative or check list identifying actions taken to achieve Whistler Green¹ Objectives.
Applicants should contact the Planning Department to request a site visit with members of the planning and landscaping team prior to submitting their proposed landscaping alteration plans and application. To facilitate the site visit, applicants should flag vegetation and trees they plan to remove with ribbon. During the site visit, staff will determine if replacement landscaping is required and provide guidance on the appropriate size and type of replacement material. Depending on the extent of the replacement landscaping, staff will ask the applicant to submit either a letter or a site plan describing the plants and their locations. Staff may also recommend applicable Whistler Green¹ Objectives and standards and require a submission describing associated actions to be taken.
Locating underground utilities is the responsibility of the applicant. This can be done by contacting:
- BC One Call Before You Dig (1-800-474-6886); and
- RMOW Environmental Services (604-935-8190).
Fee and security
Applicants must pay the application fee at the time of application.
A landscape security is also required for landscaping alterations valued over $25,000. The security amount is 135% of the estimated value of the work and is due before the permit is issued. The estimated value of the work will be determined based on the estimate for supply and installation of replacement plant material provided by the landscape contractor. The security will be returned to the applicant when the landscaping work is complete consistent with application materials, less a 10% or minimum $1,000 maintenance holdback for one year. The security may be in the form of a Letter of Credit from a bank, certified cheque or cash.
Tree pruning and limbing
Basic tree pruning is an expected annual landscape maintenance activity. To ensure tree health and aesthetics are maintained and that tree topping does not occur, persons seeking to prune or limb an existing tree are recommended to engage a certified arborist.