May 12, 2016

The City of Colwood has new retaining wall regulations that require a permit for the construction of retaining walls over 1.2 meters (4 feet) high.

Many people have expressed concern about the impact of large retaining walls on the natural landscape in Colwood. Up until this point, retaining walls constructed in the City have required sign off by a geotechnical engineer to ensure the structural safety of the wall. On Wednesday, May 11, 2016, Colwood Council approved changes to the Colwood building bylaw that will require a permit for large walls or steeply terraced walls. 

"Our natural surroundings are part of what makes Colwood a great community to live in," said Mayor Carol Hamilton. "The goal is to encourage builders to safely and creatively integrate new construction into the landscape whenever possible."

The change follows considerable consultation with the building community and the public. Staff discussed early drafts of the regulations with the Greater Victoria Residential Builders Association Council and heard from the public at an open house and through an online survey.

The new regulations are intended to provide clear definitions and direction for builders, while encouraging construction that maintains the integrity of the natural landscape and considers impacts to nearby neighbourhoods.

In addition to the 1.2 metre height restriction, terraced walls must maintain a 1:1 ratio between the height of the wall and the distance between levels of terracing.

When retaining walls meet these regulations, no permit will be required. Applicants considering construction of a wall that is higher or steeper than the regulations may apply for a development variance permit, which will allow Council to consider plans in a public meeting. If a variance is granted, a building permit will be required in order to construct the wall.

While these requirements are new in Colwood, most communities around the Capital Region have similar retaining wall regulations in place.

Anyone with questions about the new regulations are encouraged to contact the Colwood Planning Department at 250-478-5999.