The overall purpose of our Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESA) Management Strategy is to balance the pressures of urban development with the protection of our natural environment. The Strategy outlines recommendations for the protection and management of ESAs during the development process. Implementation is achieved primarily through the designation of a Development Permit Area (DPA 4: Environmentally Sensitive Areas) and Development Permit Area (DPA) Guidelines, which are a part of our Official Community Plan

An update to the existing Strategy is needed to:

  • reflect the current landscape;
  • accurately map natural areas and features;
  • align with existing regulations; and
  • modernize our DPA Guidelines. 

We've been working with Diamond Head Consulting on an update that will include improvements to ESA mapping and provide recommendations for planning tools to help the City protect, restore, and connect ESAs. Proposed changes, once adopted, would be reflected in the DPA designation for ESAs and in our DPA Guidelines. 

The draft update will be presented to Council in fall 2020 for their consideration. It is anticipated that any adopted changes to the DPA designation and DPA Guidelines would be in place by the end of 2020. 

Before the draft update is finalized and presented to Council, we’re inviting you to review the resources on this page and fill out a feedback form. If you prefer, you can email any questions or comments to our environmental coordinator or call 604-469-4639. Feedback received and any changes made to address identified concerns will be summarized in staff’s Report to Council.  

What are ESAs?

Environmentally sensitive areas are natural areas that:

  • have the potential to support healthy and diverse communities of native plants and wildlife;
  • provide habitat for species at risk; and/or
  • are unusual or unique within a regional context. 

These areas are protected to ensure the continued healthy functioning of the valued ecosystems within and adjacent to Port Moody’s municipal boundaries. 

 Background information
Here is some important information about ESAs and the development process:
  • we initiated the current ESA Management Strategy in 1997 with the inventory and mapping of environmentally sensitive areas, including terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ESAs;
  • our existing ESA map and Development Permit Areas (DPAs) were adopted in 2011 – the Development Permit Area designation for Environmentally Sensitive Areas is DPA 4;
  • development permits are already required for development activities in most ESAs;
  • information and assessment is required for properties in DPA 4 before development can proceed;
  • our DPA Guidelines ensure development is low-impact on lands bordering and within the most sensitive natural areas of our city – this process also ensures that land development meets requirements set by senior governments; and
  • streamside setbacks have provided additional protection to streams and riparian ESAs through inclusion in the Zoning Bylaw (Section 5.4) in 2006 (updated in 2018). 
 What is included in the proposed update to the ESA Management Strategy? 
The proposed update includes:
  • accurate mapping, including improved mapping of most watercourses (including ditches), forest units, and marine high water; 
  • a revised Development Permit Area designation, with a name change from DPA 4: Environmentally Sensitive Areas to Environmental Development Permit Area (EDPA);
  • inclusion of the marine shoreline within the new EDPA, recognizing the potential impact of land use behind the shoreline edge;
  • delineation of streamside setbacks (established in the Zoning Bylaw Section 5.4) and updated in 2018) within the new EDPA;
  • incorporation of an assessment area to define the EDPA to ensure a review is triggered for all properties adjacent to natural areas designated as ESAs; and
  • updated DPA guidelines that maximize opportunities for protection and restoration of ESAs, reduce impacts associated with adjacent urban development, and continue to ensure requirements of senior governments are met.


 How would the proposed changes affect the development permit process?
The proposed changes would not affect the existing development permit (DP) process – development permits will continue to be required for development activities adjacent to and within ESAs. However, the proposed Environmental Development Permit Area (EDPA) boundaries encompass properties that are not included within the current DPA4 boundaries, and these properties may require a DP if development activities are initiated.


We’re updating the ESA Management Strategy and development permit process to maximize protection and restoration opportunities for all ESAs in Port Moody. If a property is within the proposed EDPA, a review would be required to determine if planned activities require a DP, what information is required, and what development guidelines would apply. The EDPA designation and the review process are not intended to stop development. Rather, the purpose is to gather more information about the landscape and environment, and to modify development plans as required to protect ESAs.


Activities that require a DP:

Exempt activities include:



Construction, alteration, or addition to a building or other structure



Land alteration (clearing, grading, impervious surfaces, infrastructure, new landscaping)





Activities allowed under existing covenants


Property works (minor repairs, gardening, and maintenance within existing landscaped areas)


Restoration or habitat works



Emergency and hazard works


Public utilities and operational works


DP requirements will continue to depend on the type, scale, and location of development and existing property conditions. Where small, single-family home construction is proposed and impacts are outside of ESAs, it is anticipated that a minor Development Permit will be required outlining specific measures for protecting natural areas. For larger scale developments, more detailed assessment, measures, and conditions of development will apply depending on potential impacts and opportunities for protection and restoration. 

Examples of measures that may be required under Development Permits to protect and restore ESAs:

examples of measures required


 Updated map of Environmentally Sensitive Areas 

Environmentally Sensitive Areas Map

The updated ESA map includes previously unmapped watercourses and streamside setbacks, more accurate delineation of forest and riparian ESAs, and inclusion of a marine high water mark. This map reflects the present-day development landscape in Port Moody and the proposed Environmental Development Permit Area.

Recommended Environmental Development Permit Area guidelines 

The proposed new guidelines for the EDPA update the existing DPA 4 guidelines found in the Official Community Plan. They outline the range of measures that might be included as a condition of development within the EDPA. Development permits will identify appropriate measures from these guidelines based on the type, scale, and location of development. The EDPA guidelines are intended to ensure development is low-impact on lands bordering and within the most sensitive natural areas of our city, and meets the requirements set by senior governments.