Envision St. John's Municipal Plan and Development Regulations

Envision St. John’s, prepared as a result of a comprehensive review, will replace the current St. John’s Municipal Plan (2003) and Development Regulations (1994). Envision was developed from a comprehensive consultation process and the comments of many interested citizens, community groups, property owners and businesses, with the direction of Council and the professional input of City staff.

During the review process, residents told us they want:

  • a place where we enjoy a future of continued economic prosperity and diversity
  • a home where citizens have a strong sense of identity embodied in their understanding and appreciation for their cultural, natural and built heritage,
  • a city of active, healthy citizens, living in affordable, accessible, complete neighbourhoods, and
  • a capital that attracts and welcomes investment, residents and visitors from the region, the province and the world.

The draft Envision Municipal Plan was tabled in Council in July 2014 for public review and a series of engagement events followed to share the draft and seek input. The draft Municipal Plan was updated and adopted-in-principle in July 2017 and was recently edited to ensure that all standards proposed in the new draft Development Regulations are enabled by the draft Plan.

Following public review of the draft Municipal Plan in 2014, City staff have been using it to write the draft Development Regulations, which are now complete. This document reflects a wide range of public interests and includes such items as revised land-use zones and lot sizes, new affordable housing forms, off-street parking, buffers between different land uses, public open space, floodplains, building heights, built heritage, agricultural lands, and more.

Take a look at our new Envision documents.


Envision St. John’s, prepared as a result of a comprehensive review, will replace the current St. John’s Municipal Plan (2003) and Development Regulations (1994). Envision was developed from a comprehensive consultation process and the comments of many interested citizens, community groups, property owners and businesses, with the direction of Council and the professional input of City staff.

During the review process, residents told us they want:

  • a place where we enjoy a future of continued economic prosperity and diversity
  • a home where citizens have a strong sense of identity embodied in their understanding and appreciation for their cultural, natural and built heritage,
  • a city of active, healthy citizens, living in affordable, accessible, complete neighbourhoods, and
  • a capital that attracts and welcomes investment, residents and visitors from the region, the province and the world.

The draft Envision Municipal Plan was tabled in Council in July 2014 for public review and a series of engagement events followed to share the draft and seek input. The draft Municipal Plan was updated and adopted-in-principle in July 2017 and was recently edited to ensure that all standards proposed in the new draft Development Regulations are enabled by the draft Plan.

Following public review of the draft Municipal Plan in 2014, City staff have been using it to write the draft Development Regulations, which are now complete. This document reflects a wide range of public interests and includes such items as revised land-use zones and lot sizes, new affordable housing forms, off-street parking, buffers between different land uses, public open space, floodplains, building heights, built heritage, agricultural lands, and more.

Take a look at our new Envision documents.


Do you have comments or questions about the draft Envision Municipal Plan and Development Regulations not addressed here? Please post it here and someone from the city will get back to you as soon as possible.



Q&A

Ajax loader transparent
Didn't receive confirmation?
Seems like you are already registered, please provide the password or use a different email ID
  • 1. Parking minima - I would like to see more types of land use that don't require a particular amount of parking. If there are businesses that are viable without providing dedicated parking for their customers, let them try it out! I am a transit user/pedestrian and parking requirements force buildings to be further apart than I'd prefer. 2. Townhouses, duplexes, and fourplexes are not qualitatively different from other types of dwelling and excluding them from the biggest residential zone (R1) is unnecessarily restrictive. There are five different types of apartment zone and eleven different types of residential zone. This is a very complicated regime, and (I think) excessively restrictive of people's ability to use their property.

    kmorry asked 2 months ago

    A: Regarding parking minimums, we do have a provision for parking relief, where Council can relieve some or all of the required parking if the applicant can show that it’s not needed.  We understand the concern that parking minimums mean buildings have to provide off-street parking, on the property, within the building, or nearby.  The City has committed to reviewing all of its parking standards in the St. John’s Development Regulations in the coming year.

    Regarding housing types, different types of houses provide the same thing (a place to live) in different designs and different densities.  Some of our residential zones such as R2 and R3 allow for a variety of house types.  However, past conversations over introducing more house types into the R1 Zone (our most common zone) have not been well received.

    We do have the advantage of allowing subsidiary apartments in single houses in almost all of our residential zones.

    The various apartment zones have been created to help new development fit in to existing neighbourhoods.  A tall apartment building may be welcomed downtown but opposed in a suburban neighbourhood.

    Thanks for thinking about the future of our city.


  • Hey folks - definitely many improvements from earlier drafts. A couple questions, and a couple comments (I know this is up for approval Monday, so not expecting changes, but maybe just flagging some things) Questions: 1) Section 4.8: Any particular reason for specifying a newspaper for notifications? Maybe mandated by the Act? Would be nice to include a mandate for distribution by electronic means etc. Unfortunately, given the current trends in the newspaper industry, these regulations may outlast the existence of a newspaper. 2) Building lines on arterial streets (Sec 7.2.2) - just curious as to the justification for such a huge right-of-way for Kenmount/Topsail/Torbay/Logy Bay Roads - all over 50 metres. 3) Comprehensive Development Area Zoning (P. 151) what's the rationale for these specific ones? Seems like a mix of greenfield and existing neighbourhoods, and doesn't match with the Intensification Areas from the Municipal Plan Comments: 1) Very nice to see that all development applications now require information on pedestrian/cycle/transit access. Big improvement. Same goes with the incorporation of tiny homes, and bike parking, and many other progressive moves. Well done on those. 2) Trees - it seems like section 7.6.1 would be the place to mandate trees for residential areas, but no mention there. In general, not very many mentions of tree requirements at all. 3) Downtown parking: I (and many others I'm sure) would be supportive of the removal of all parking minimums for downtown developments, or the waiving of cash-in-lieu :-) 4) Hardly any mention that I could find of the intensification areas marked out in the Municipal Plan - curious to see how that all plays out going forward.

    JoshSmee asked 3 months ago

    Thanks Josh for your feedback. Responses to your specific questions/queries below:

    • Section 4.8: Any particular reason for specifying a newspaper for notifications?  You are correct that the requirement of newspaper notice is written in the NL Urban and Rural Planning Act.  The City is free to use other means (and we use mailouts plus the City’s website, Facebook page and Twitter feed), but newspapers are the minimum mandated.
    • Building lines on arterial streets (Sec 7.2.2) - just curious as to the justification for such a huge right-of-way for Kenmount/Topsail/Torbay/Logy Bay Roads - all over 50 metres.  These numbers reflect the size of the rights-of-way on these roads.
    • Comprehensive Development Area Zoning (P. 151) what's the rationale for these specific ones? Seems like a mix of greenfield and existing neighbourhoods, and doesn't match with the Intensification Areas from the Municipal Plan.  Comprehensive development areas or CDAs are different from intensification areas.  The CDAs are areas where conditions are not yet right for development, so they are in this holding zone.  In contrast, the intensification areas are already zoned and ready for development; but if a developer is interested, the City is willing to examine the area for opportunities to increased development density if it makes sense.
    • Trees - it seems like section 7.6.1 would be the place to mandate trees for residential areas, but no mention there. In general, not very many mentions of tree requirements at all.  Tree requirements are regulated under a tree by-law moreso than under the City’s Development Regulations.
    • Downtown parking: I (and many others I'm sure) would be supportive of the removal of all parking minimums for downtown developments, or the waiving of cash-in-lieu :-)  Council is moving to restore the possibility of parking relief downtown – that is, being able to reduce the amount of parking required for a specific application if the applicant can show why the City’s standard is too high.  That is different, though, from removing parking minimums.
    • Hardly any mention that I could find of the intensification areas marked out in the Municipal Plan - curious to see how that all plays out going forward.  We will see how property owners and developers move forward in those areas.

    if you have additional questions or feedback, please send it along.

  • would it be possible to have this reviewed by the St. John's Food Policy Council or Food First NL to give feedback on the regulations? The St. John’s Food Policy Council takes a systems approach to policy and planning to bring all parts and players of the food system together. The food system has five main elements: Food Access: Ensures fair access and availability of healthy, local, and affordable food. Food Production: Involves the growing, raising, catching, and gathering of food, as well as processing of food into market-ready and value added products. Food Infrastructure: Involves the movement of food across the supply chain to address transportation, distribution, processing, and waste. Buying and Selling: Follows the purchase of food from retail and wholesale sources, such as markets, restaurants, grocery stores, and institutions. Eating and Celebration: Values the impact on community, social, and cultural health by coming together to prepare and enjoy food. The main functions of the council are to discuss food issues, coordinate productive links between sectors, evaluate and influence policy, and support actions that address local needs and enhance the local food system. It would be useful for the St. John's Food Policy Council to have time to review these.

    St. John's Food Policy Council asked 3 months ago

    Thanks for reaching out. City staff are happy to meet with the SJFPC to discuss the draft Envision Development Regulations.  Someone will follow up with you to arrange a time. 


  • With regards to Section 8.5.4 - Cash In Lieu for parking requirements - how does Council decide upon the use of this provision and what recourse is available to residents of an area if they object to the cash in lieu decision? As a resident of downtown who struggles constantly for parking space outside my house I am concerned that a developer can take a one-time cash hit which is knocked on to the buyers of the new development and then the residents of the area are left with the burden of additional cars with not enough parking space. This is a policy which clearly benefits developers and not the residents (tax payers) of an area.

    andreas asked 3 months ago

    A: Any application for parking relief is evaluated against our parking standards.  We ask the applicant to justify why the actual parking required should be less than the City’s standards.  The information may include: examples of similar land uses and their actual parking; comparison of St. John’s standards with those of other municipalities; information on business hours (a business may operate at times when parking is usually available in the immediate area); or other information.  Staff evaluates this and provides a recommendation to Council, which Council votes on.

    In cases where an application requires a land-use report (most rezonings and some development applications require those reports), the information on parking relief would be publicized when the report is publicly advertised, and public comments would be brought to Council before their vote takes place.

    In areas of the City where on-street parking by non-residents is a problem, the City uses its Residential Parking Permit Program.  If this doesn’t exist in your neighbourhood, we have a process to consider introducing one.


  • Has the city considered defining an historical significant period for different areas of the city that would help define the prefered style for development. For example, in the downtown, the two decades that followed the last great fire. It is a common practice by municipality in the USA. Once the period is defined, a developer or architect would have a period to draw inspiration from. Another practice is to provide a developer guide and outlines the cities vision for any renovation, redevelopment, or new construction. These guides outline the styles of homes or storefronts that are preferred, the period materials that can be used, height restrictions and preferences on what can be developed in which areas. These guides could help developers work with architects to design appropriate building plans that fit the vision of the city. You could have one section for each of the communities the council is hoping to promote in this plan. Different communities can have different significant time periods and their own architect style. Good luck and please make every effort to preserve the character of this city. I can send you some examples if you are interested.

    agriffiths asked 7 months ago

    A: Thanks for the heritage comments.  The City does have a set of heritage standards that regulate building style, exterior finish materials, windows, doors, steps, fences, and so on.  We also have guidelines for the Battery neighbourhood and for Quidi Vidi Village.

    Our older buildings serve as a guide for new buildings and development, and can provide context for each street.  We also have to figure out how to shape modern buildings.  Some developments seek to mimic the older styles or take inspiration from them so that they fit in seamlessly to older streets and neighbourhoods.  Other developments seek to be completely modern, with the reasoning that a new building should be “of its time” and not copy the last.  We still have to resolve this tension in the heritage areas.

    Any examples you have would be welcome. You can email your examples to the Chief Municipal Planner if you would like.

  • What is the plan for demolishing the Nurses residence and developing the Grace Hispital site?

    Jan Hopkins asked 7 months ago

    A: The buildings and land are currently under provincial jurisdiction. While the City encourages the redevelopment of this site it has no authority in this matter.


  • And now that I see I am already registered on the Envision St. John's process, how come you didn't email everyone who is registered to tell us about the open houses? I found out about it today - too late to go - from a facebook post by a candidate in the elections. Not from the city. Hmm.

    catteau asked over 1 year ago

    A: Our open house was promoted though our regular communications channels, including city website, Facebook  and other social media channels as well as traditional media such as the City's weekly ad in The Telegam etc. We typically don't use the engagestjohns.ca platform as a promotional tool. However, we are currently undertaking an evaluation of our engagement policy and process and this could change in the future. Please take a few minutes to complete the evaluation.  

    The Draft Development Regulations page does have the opportunity for residents to provide input. And we're working on having the presentation from the sessions added to the page. Also the draft regulations are posted on the page.  

    If you have any questions from either document post them on the page and someone will get back to you with a reply.   


  • 1) Where can we find the Subdivision Design Policy referenced in the draft?

    Sean asked over 1 year ago

    The Policy is on the City's website stjohns.ca.  If you require further information about the Policy please email engage@stjohns.ca and we will forward your request on to our Department of Planning, Engineering & Regulatory Services.