Council passes zoning amendment to improve design solutions and reduce variance requests for retaining walls and landscape features

Publication Date: March 3, 2021


At the March 2 Council Meeting, Council gave fourth and final reading to Zoning Amendment Bylaw (Retaining Walls) 2033, 2020.  The amendment will regulate retaining walls separate from landscape features and aims to improve design solutions in setback areas. A benefit of this amendment will be streamlining the permitting process by reducing the need to submit variance applications, while continuing to uphold Whistler’s resort community character. 

Recognizing Whistler’s unique topography, this amendment changes the allowable height and location of retaining walls and landscape features in setback areas to allow for a more practical application of these features. Highlights of the zoning amendments include:

1. Distinction of regulations for retaining walls, separate from landscape feature regulations;

2. Increased maximum allowable height of all landscape features in setback areas from 0.6 metres to 1 metre in height;

3. Increased maximum allowable height of retaining walls in setback areas from 0.6 metres to 1.22 metres in height;

4. Maintain the minimum 2 metre setback from parcel lines that abut a highway (any public or private strata road), for sightlines along a road and to allow for storage of snow; 

5. Allow for a zero setback from any parcel line that does not abut a highway to enable adjacent property owners to connect their retaining wall systems; and

6. Allow multiple retaining walls in a setback area, each separated by 1.22 metres horizontally with a maximum 1:4 slope of finished ground, to facilitate terracing and landscape screening.  

“We received feedback from both the public and staff that this section of the Zoning Bylaw needed further consideration due to Whistler’s unique and challenging topography,” said Mayor Jack Crompton.  “I thank both the community and staff for raising this, so we are able improve our processes and better support our property owners wishing to do these improvements.”

To view Zoning Amendment Bylaw (Retaining Walls) No. 2033, 2020 and to learn more about constructing retaining walls and landscape features on your property, visit

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