Development Permits

The City of Fernie's Official Community Plan (OCP) includes guidelines for Development Areas where special requirements for development or land alteration are in effect.

A Development Permit may be required in areas designated for:

  • Protection of the natural environment, its ecosystems and its biological diversity;
  • Protection of development from hazardous conditions;
  • Revitalization of an area in which a commercial use is permitted; or
  • Establishment of objectives and the provisions of guidelines for the form and character of commercial, industrials, intensive residential or multiple family residential development.

In many cases, both a development and building permit are required. If your project involves construction of a building, the renovation or addition to a building, and for any change in the type of occupancy of the building, a Building Permit Application must be submitted once the Development Permit is issued.

Refer to our Building Permits & Inspections page for a full list of examples when a building permit is required.

When a Development Permit is required?

Before undertaking a new project, applicants must identify if the subject property is located in one of Fernie's designated Development Areas.

  • Watercourse Protection Area
  • Slope Hazard Area
  • Avalanche Hazard Area
  • Flood Hazard Area
  • Development Permit Area

The Official Community Plan (OCP) includes a series of maps (Schedules I to P) highlighting seven Development Areas that require a permit for construction or land alteration.

If you plan to build, and your property is included within one or more of the Development Permit Area, you must complete the appropriate Development Permit Application form before applying for a Building Permit.

Watercourse Protection Development Areas

Watercourse Protection Development Permit Application must be submitted for construction projects planned in the Watercourse Protection Areas identified in Schedule I of the OCP:

Schedule I - Watercourses

Hazard Lands Development Areas

Hazard Lands Development Permit Application must be submitted for construction projects planned in Schedules J to L of the OCP:

Schedule J - Slope Hazards

Schedule K - Avalanche Hazards

Schedule L - Flood Hazards

The City of Fernie's floodplain areas are regulated through the Floodplain Management Bylaw. This bylaw identifies:

  • Fernie's floodplain areas.
  • How flood construction levels (FCL's) are calculated for each property.
  • If it's possible to develop in these areas, and what the requirements are for development.

Form & Character Development Permit Areas

The City's Building Design Guidelines are outlined in Schedule S of the OCP, providing in-depth requirements on form and character of structures within the Historic Downtown Core, Highway Corridor, Service Commercial, Light Industrial and Multiple Family Residential Development Permit areas.

If you plan to alter a property within the Development Permit Area, please complete and submit a Development Permit Application before submitting a building permit application.

Development Permit Areas are identified in the following maps:

Schedule M - Historic Downtown

Schedule N - Highway Corridor

Schedule O - Service Commercial

Schedule P - Light Industrial

Schedule Q - Multi-Family

Schedule R - Neighbourhood Commercial

Development Permit applications are assessed by City planning department staff, and may also be referred to other applicable City departments or external agencies for review.

Projects that alter the form and character of structure in Development Permit Areas are also reviewed by a Design Review Panel. The Design Review Panel meets monthly, providing independent advice and recommendations to City of Fernie staff, applicants, and their consultants prior to and following the submission of relevant applications to help deliver projects which contribute to good quality design in the public realm. The Design Review Panel's meeting schedule, agendas, and minutes are available to view online, here.

Sites with Heritage Area Revitalization Program Designation as identified in Schedule C - Heritage Sites will require a Heritage Alteration Permit prior to any exterior alterations. Apply using a Development Permit (Form & Character) application form.

Application Process

If your project requires a Development Permit, please download an application form and read through the appropriate checklist to ensure your application includes the required supporting documents. Incomplete applications will delay the processing time of your application.

Completed applications and supporting documents outlined in the Development Permit Application Checklist can be submitted with payment to City Hall. Fees associated with each Development Permit are detailed on the application form.

Development Permit applications are reviewed by the Planning department in the order which they are received, and may also be referred to external agencies for further consideration.

Processing Timelines

Hazard Land Development Permit Applications

Complete applications may take a minimum of 1-3 weeks to process if the application involves an exempt structure, or for properties that don’t require a covenant to be registered on title as part of the permit.

If a covenant must be registered on title, the application may take numerous weeks or months to complete, depending on the processing times of other parties involved, such as your legal representative and/or financial institution.

Development Permit Applications

Complete applications may take a minimum of 6-8 weeks to process. The timeline to receive an outcome on each application is determined by the complexity of the project, the time to receive input from other City departments, the schedule of Design Review Panel meetings and Design Review agenda availability.

Have a question? Email City Planning staff at