Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Zone or Zoning Definition:

The application of a law which restricts specified territory as to use.

Zone or zoning: territorial delimitation, division or districts created by cities, towns, municipalities or other local or regional governments to limit or restrict development and real property use in a designated area, as a tool for orderly or uniform urban development.

For example, a certain city block can be said to be "zoned commercial" which means that the city or regional government allows commercial buidlings or use within that city block.

In BC v. Lafarge Canada Inc., 2007 SCC 23, Canada's Supreme Court considered a dispute over which jurisdiction, municipal or federal, should control zoning near Vancouver's open-water port:

"Effective and responsive land-use planning is essential to the operations and responsibilities of a port.... Indeed, the ability to control and regulate the use of port lands adjacent to the actual harbour is an integral part of ensuring effective marine access to the harbour itself. The significance of land-use planning to port operations (and thus to navigation and shipping) is confirmed by ... the Canada Marine Act, which specifies that a port authority's land-use plan should govern land-use on all port property, rather than the municipal zoning by-laws which govern neighbouring lands. As previously noted, (the act) requires the creation of land-use plans by port authorities which contain objectives for the development of real property that the port authority manages, and which take into account relevant social, economic and environmental matters and zoning by-laws that apply to neighbouring lands."

The Canada Marine Act uses the term at s. 48 as follows:

"A port authority shall ... develop a detailed land-use plan that contains objectives and policies for the physical development of the real property and immovables that it manages, holds or occupies and that takes into account relevant social, economic and environmental matters and zoning by-laws that apply to neighbouring lands."

Zoning is usually done by municipal regulations, aka "bylaw", and have evloved into very complex documents. Even small cities often have a multitude of various zoning types or districts, and a plethora of definitions corrolary to each. For an example of the wide scope and complexity of a modern zoning by-law, the City of Richmond, BC, defines the following word in its 2007 consoliudated zoning by-law document as follows:

"Adult Paraphernalia Store means offering for rent, use, viewing or sale of an object (other than a contraceptive device) commodity, good, material, device, machine or entertainment which is designed or intended to be used in, or is a depiction of a sexual act."


Always looking up definitions? Save time with our search provider (modern browsers only)

If you find an error or omission in Duhaime's Law Dictionary, or if you have suggestion for a legal term, we'd love to hear from you!