Municipal Committees of Adjustment in Ontario

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| Published , updated April 18, 2024

If a municipality has passed a by-law under section 34 or a predecessor of such section, the council of the municipality may by by-law constitute and appoint a committee of adjustment for the municipality composed of such persons, not fewer than three, as the council considers advisable.

Section 44 of the Planning Act

What is the Committee of Adjustment?

The Committee of Adjustment is a quasi-judicial tribunal and an independent body of Council-appointed citizen members. It hears applications under Section 45 and Section 53 of the Planning Act.

The Planning Act requires the Committee of Adjustment to appoint a Secretary-Treasurer who in turn leads a centralized administration office where Committee staff process applications in accordance with the rules and regulations set out in the governing provincial legislation.

Committee staff are available to discuss with the public, community representatives, applicants, and authorized agents only matters related to application submission requirements or details of applications being processed. It is not the role or responsibility of Committee staff to assess the merits of an application as this is the role and responsibility of Panel Members.

What is the Committee of Adjustment responsible for?

It exercises its independent statutory power of decision in accordance with the Statutory Powers Procedure Act on the following applications:

  • Grant minor variances from the Zoning By-law
  • Permit enlargements, extensions, or changes to legal non-conforming uses
  • Give consent to sever a parcel of land into more than one lot, or as a lot addition to abutting properties
  • Give consent to mortgages (or charges) on part of a property, or partial discharge of mortgages (or charges)
  • Issue certificates of validation
  • Give consent to create easements and grant leases for a period of 21 years or more

There are two major types of applications to the Committee of Adjustment:

  1. Applications for consent to create new lots or adjust boundaries
  2. Applications for minor variances to the municipal Zoning Bylaw requirements or for permission to extend land uses that have existed prior to the passing of the current bylaw.

Consent for Land Severance

  • New lot creation
  • Lot addition or lot line change
  • Consent to mortgage
  • Consent to lease
  • Consent to create a shared right-of-way.

In evaluating applications for Consent, the committee must consider:

  • Conformity with Provincial policies, plans and regulations;
  • Conformity to Official Plan policies;
  • Compliance with the Zoning By-law or, where a Minor Variance is applied for, maintaining the intent of the Zoning By-law;
  • The appropriateness of the size and configuration of the proposed lot for the land use;
  • Availability of access to and frontage on a municipal road;
  • The adequacy of water and wastewater services;
  • The location and characteristics of the property;
  • The conservation and protection of natural resources; and
  • The impact upon the current and future use of surrounding properties.

Minor Variances

The Zoning By-laws regulate how land and buildings are used and where buildings and structures can be located. The zoning by-law also specifies lot sizes and dimensions, parking requirements, building heights and other provisions.  Minor Variances are intended to address small, technical changes to the Zoning By-law, and provides relief from a specific Zoning By-law requirement, excusing a property owner from meeting the exact requirements of the By-law.

The Committee must ensure that the variances, if approved, satisfy the following:

  • Generally maintains the intent and purpose of the Official Plan or Secondary Plan where applicable;
  • Maintains the intent and purpose of the Zoning By-law;
  • Are considered to be a “minor” change from the zoning requirements; and
  • Are desirable for the appropriate development or use of the land, building or structure.

The Committee of Adjustment also:

  • Considers appeals of a property standard order including the authority to confirm, modify or quash an order and/or extend the time for complying with the order.
  • Arbitrates disagreements between adjoining owners where they cannot agree over the maintenance or reconstruction of a line fence which marks the boundary between an owner’s land and the adjoining lands. (Thurlow Ward only)

The goals and purpose of the Committee of Adjustment are to:

  1. Hear presentations from property owners, applicants, or authorized agents,
  2. Hear and consider public input; and,
  3. Make informed decisions on the following Planning Act

Terms of Reference


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