Environmental Regulations

Abbotsford’s natural setting is characterized by a wide diversity and beauty of landscapes and natural features.

These ecosystems provide many functions necessary for our community’s health and well-being. The City has committed to protecting and enhancing these ecosystems and the wildlife that depend on them through several mechanisms, including the City’s Streamside Protection Bylaw, the Tree Protection Bylaw, and the Natural Environment Development Permit area.


As Abbotsford continues to grow, development may occur in areas with steep slopes where the potential risk of natural hazards such as landslides, erosion, debris flows, etc. present a danger to people and property. As such, the City established the Steep Slope Development Permit area in order to ensure development activity does not create hazardous conditions.

Stream Setbacks

Floodplain Setbacks

If a property is located in a designated Floodplain Area or within proximity to a watercourse, it must adhere to the floodproofing provisions under the Abbotsford Zoning Bylaw (Section 140.7.7), which prescribe setbacks for buildings and structures from the natural boundary of a watercourse, waterbody or dyke.

Where landfill is used to achieve any elevation required by the Zoning Bylaw, no portion of the landfill slope shall encroach upon the setback areas, and the face of the landfill slope shall be adequately protected against erosion by floodwaters.

Erosion and Sediment Control

The City’s Erosion and Sediment Control (ESC) Bylaw helps to control the amount of sediment-laden water entering the drainage system by requiring implementation of Best Management Practices. The bylaw applies to all sites where development activities are occurring which may cause sediment-laden water to enter the drainage system. Except where a farm activity is regulated by a City bylaw, (e.g. Building Permit or Soil Removal and Deposit Permit) this bylaw does not apply to development within the Agricultural Land Reserve.

The flow of sediment-laden water off construction sites has impacts on both Abbotsford’s drainage system and local streams. Hundreds of thousands of dollars of the City’s budget is directed to annual maintenance costs for removing sediment accumulations from Abbotsford’s drainage systems.

Contaminated Sites in Abbotsford

Toxic substances may exist in the soil vapour, sediment, surface water, and groundwater of current or historic industrial and commercial properties in Abbotsford. Such properties may be deemed contaminated if substances occur at concentrations:

  • above background (normally occurring) levels and pose or are likely to pose an immediate or long-term hazard to human health or the environment; or
  • exceeding levels specified in policies and regulations.

Consequently, the Ministry of Environment, under authority of the Environmental Management Act and the Contaminated Sites Regulation, may require a Site Disclosure Statement if a property with a current or historic Schedule 2 use applies for:

  • subdivision
  • rezoning
  • development permit, where soil disturbance is likely
  • building permit, where soil disturbance is likely

This examination ensures the property is suitable for the proposed use and is safe for human health and the environment.