Do you need a development permit?

Land is zoned to regulate development, ensure public health and safety, and promote the general welfare of the community. The Planning and Development Act (the “PDA”) gives local governing bodies the authority to oversee the planning process. Zoning bylaws dictate the allowable usage of land and often outline the permitted and discretionary uses of the land. These bylaws are essential in managing development and future growth within a community by coordinating local development including the separation of incompatible land uses.

Many zoning bylaws define “development” as the carrying out of any building, engineering, mining, or other operations in, on or over land or the making of any material change in the use or intensity of the use of any building or land.  As such, to construct, erect, place, alter, repair, renovate, or reconstruct a building/structure, a Development Permit is required in almost all cases.

The Saskatchewan Municipal Board’s Planning Appeals Committee (the “Appeals Committee”) recently dealt with the question of what constitutes a “development” under the PDA in the case of Ryan Martin, Leanne Martin, Jason Brittner and Tamara Brittner v Mervin (Rural Municipality), 2020 SKMB 42 [“Mervin”].

In Mervin, two recreational vehicles (“RVs”) were placed on a property without obtaining a development permit, resulting in an “Order to Remedy Development” being issued against the landowners by the Municipality. The landowners appealed the decision, and the Appeals Committee had to determine whether the placement of the two RVs on the land constituted a development that would require a development permit.  

The Appeals Committee found that placing two RVs on the property was a change of use and constituted a development that required a permit. At paragraph 14 of the Mervin ruling, the Appeals Committee found:

[14] Upon consideration, our decision turns on whether the Applicants’ establishment of the two RVs on the subject property constitutes a “development ” as defined under the Bylaw and the Act. We agree with the RMs assertion that placing two RVs on the subject property is a change in use and constitutes a “development’.  We have confirmed with the Appellants that the RVs were brought onto the subject property after purchasing the land. This action resulted in a “change of use” of the subject property as defined in the Bylaw.

As part of their analysis, the Appeals Committee determined that had the landowners been allowed to retain the RVs on the land without a permit, it would have constituted a special privilege inconsistent with the restrictions placed on the neighbouring properties in the Zoning District.

If you start the development process without acquiring the necessary approvals, an Order of Compliance or other enforcement measures may be imposed against you. If you are planning to develop land or are uncertain about whether or not you may require a Development Permit, please don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our lawyers. We would be more than happy to assist you.

Contacting a Lawyer on this Subject

Sarah is an associate lawyer with Robertson Stromberg and was called to the bar in 2023. While at law school, Sarah worked for the Ministry of Justice as a traffic prosecutor. She went on to complete her articles with the Ministry and worked as a Crown Prosecutor before joining Roberston Stromberg. 

Contact Sarah at 1-306-933-1388 or [email protected]. The above is for general information only, and not legal advice. Parties should always seek legal advice before taking action in specific situations.

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Area of ExpertiseDo you need a development permit?