Frequently Asked Questions

Click to read descriptions of common planning approvals you may encounter during the planning process:

Zoning Amendments

Zoning Amendments are normally required when there is a change in land use proposed on a property and where the Official Plan designation permits such land use. Also, Zoning Amendments are required for major deviations from the requirements of the zoning by-law.

Minor Variances

Minor Variances are, as the name suggests, minor variances from the requirements of the Zoning By-law.  The variance must meet the four tests of a minor variance required under the Planning Act: it conforms to the general intent of the Official Plan and Zoning By-law, is desirable for the appropriate use or development of the lands, and is minor in nature. Approvals for Minor Variances are granted by the Committee of Adjustment.

Development Permits

Development Permits are required to site and implement certain forms of development and are only required when a Municipality has a Development Permit By-law in place. Development Permits are similar to Site Plan Approvals but do not include a formal agreement.

Road Allowance Closures

Often Road Allowances such as Original Road Allowances and Original Shore Road Allowances are sought to be purchased by an abutting land owner. The process of the purchase includes the requirement to close the road officially by way of a by-law, for which an application is made to the Municipality.

Condominium Descriptions

The approval of a Condominium Description is similar to the process of a Plan of Subdivision but the end result is the approval for the creation of a Condominium Corporation. Condominium ownership is a different type of ownership created by the consent and subdivision process; it is a collective of several owners that maintain the property as a whole.

Official Plan Amendments

Official Plan Amendments are required for deviations from the permitted land use or policy direction for a specific property or properties. Often, Official Plan Amendments will be concurrently applied for with Zoning By-law Amendments and may seek approval for large-scale developments in areas of the Municipality where such land uses were not originally contemplated.

Consents/Land Severances

Consent approvals under the Planning Act are normally required to create new properties, grant easements or right-of-ways, transfer lot additions to abutting lands and recreate previously merged properties. Approval of Consents are granted by the Committee of Adjustment and are accompanied by conditions which must be fulfilled within one year.

Site Plan Approvals

Site Plan Approvals are required when a Site Plan Control By-law is in place in a Municipality and is used to implement the Zoning By-law or other site specific conditions or approvals. The site plan itself is attached to a formal agreement that is entered into between the land owner and the Municipality, which is then registered on the title of the land.

Plans of Subdivision

Plans of Subdivision are larger version of the Consent process for the creation of property. Often multiple properties are created for larger tracts of land through the Plan of Subdivision process. Plans of Subdivisions often include the collaboration of several different professionals to complete and require entering into an agreement with the approval authority to implement the conditions and recommendations of the approval.

Appeals to the Ontario Municipal Board

Almost all decisions made under the Planning Act by approval authorities can be appealed, at which time the file is forwarded to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).  The appeal can be made during the statutory appeal period by any member of the public. Examples include an applicant appealing the decision to deny an application, or an objecting member of the public appealing a decision to approve an application. The appeal is handled by the OMB like a court case: the two sides of the appeal present a case, usually involving lawyers representing each side. Sometimes multiple parties are involved. A Planning Consultant can serve as an expert witness and provide professional evidence at the hearing.