New definition of “in-ground basement floor area” in effect
The Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) has adopted a bylaw, which changes the gross floor area (GFA) exclusion regulations for basement areas in detached and duplex dwellings.
Gross floor area is a measure used to establish the maximum density of development for detached and duplex dwellings in residential zones.
The zoning amendment bylaw is now more restrictive than the GFA exclusion regulations adopted in 2012, and a change in how the basement area that qualifies for exclusion from gross floor area is determined. The new regulations mean that only those portions of the basement that are below ground or in-ground qualify for the exclusion.
The bylaw also includes a new term and definition for “in-ground basement floor area”.
Regulations were adopted originally in 2012 following community consultation and work by the RMOW’s Illegal Space Task Force to address long-standing issues related to the use of crawl spaces in some Whistler homes, which did not conform to zoning regulations or density restrictions, and did not have valid building permits. These illegal spaces created uncertainty for property owners, contractors, and realtors with respect to zoning and building code compliance, in addition to potential life safety, insurance, and liability implications for owners.
At the June 21, 2016 Council meeting, staff reported on results of monitoring gross floor area (GFA) exclusion regulations since their implementation in 2012. The recently adopted amendment bylaw is intended to address issues identified by staff in their report related to building massing and associated neighbourhood impacts.
What does this mean for property owners and contractors?
To ensure that the proposed rule change does not impose a barrier to legitimizing previously constructed basement areas, which was the focus of the 2012 GFA exclusion regulations, the new bylaw maintains the existing “basement floor area” exclusion for floor area that existed prior to May 15, 2012.
Construction that has been completed or authorized for construction by valid building permit between May 15, 2012 and November 15, 2016 has been authorized under the existing rules and is “grandfathered” under those rules, which are less restrictive.
The same applies for construction for which a complete building permit application was received on or before November 22, 2016.
Since adoption of the zoning amendment bylaw on March 7, 2017, all new building permit applications for new construction are subject to the new rules.
Find everything you need to know about applying for a building permit at whistler.ca/building. For building permit inquiries contact the Building Department at 604-935-8150 or firstname.lastname@example.org.