Considering renovating, building, or changing the use of a property? Some research into the zoning restrictions of your property could prevent a serious problem in the future. The city may also require additional steps to be taken before issuing a building permit.
The zoning by-law regulates the permitted uses of land and buildings and the location of buildings and structures on the property. The zoning by-law also specifies lot sizes and dimensions, parking requirements and building heights to safeguard appropriate and systematic land development. Since it is impossible for the zoning by-law to address every circumstance that may affect the use or development of every property, the Planning Act allows for a procedure whereby a landowner can apply to the Committee of Adjustment for a minor variation to the by-law.
A minor variance provides relief from a specific by-law requirement, excusing a landowner from meeting the strict requirements of the by-law. It is often necessitated by circumstances peculiar to the property that prevent the owner from developing it in a way that conforms to the zoning by-law.
An application for a minor variance must meet the four part test mandated by the Planning Act to be granted. To satisfy the requirements of the test a variance must:
be desirable for the appropriate development or use of the land, building or structure;
maintain the general intent and purpose of the zoning by-law; and
maintain the general intent and purpose of the official plan.
A public hearing will be held whereby the Committee will hear from anyone for or opposed to the application. After the hearing, the Committee of Adjustment will inform a landowner of their decision to grant or deny the variance in writing, which becomes final and binding if no appeals are received. The Committee of Adjustment cannot grant exemptions to the by-law that, in effect, would constitute a change of zoning. In such cases, an application should be made for an amendment to the zoning by-law.