Expertise - Planning and Development

Minor Variances & Other Committee of Adjustment Applications

The Planning Act (Ont.) enables a municipal Committee of Adjustment to authorize, upon an application by an owner, such “variances” from the provisions of that municipality’s zoning by-law or interim control by-law in respect of the owner’s land, building or structure, or the use thereof. The variances must be minor and in the opinion of the Committee, be desirable for the appropriate development or use of the land, building or structure, and maintain the general intent of the by-law and the official plan.

Usually applications are made to vary one or more regulations in the by-law dealing with such matters as parking requirements, setbacks, gross floor area, and height, although occasionally applications are made to vary permitted uses.

Applications may be made to the Committee of Adjustment with respect to legal non-conforming uses to permit (i) the extension or enlargement of the legal non-conforming use or (ii) a similar or more compatible use than the legal non-conforming use.

Applications may be made to the Committee of Adjustment, where uses in the by-law are defined in general terms, to permit a use that is not specifically permitted but which conforms with the uses permitted in the by-law.

Applications to the Committee of Adjustment are commonly made with respect to all types of development, such as single family housing, office buildings, highrise apartments, retail facilities and industrial properties.

Applications to the Committee of Adjustment can be a cost effective and an efficient alternative to seeking amendments to the zoning by-law.

Decisions of a Committee of Adjustment can be appealed to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) (formerly the Ontario Municipal Board) or,  in the case of Toronto, the Toronto Local Appeal Board (TLAB). At the LPAT or TLAB, a hearing is conducted into the merits of the application applying the same tests as are applied by the Committee of Adjustment.

We assist our clients through the various stages of the approval process - from the application stage, to meetings with relevant municipal staff, to representation before the Committee of Adjustment and any appeals to the LPAT/TLAB and any related court proceedings.