Minor Variance

When do you need a Minor Variance?

A minor variance or permission to change or expand legal non-conforming use is required when a resident requires relief from the zoning by-law during construction, renovation or alteration of an existing building. If a minor variance is required the variance must meet the four tests under Section 45(1) of the Planning Act:

A minor variance might be required when:

  • Provisions of the zoning by-law cannot be met during new construction
  • An addition is being added to a legal non-conforming building
  • A new lot is being created through a consent application, but the lot is undersized

Applying for a Minor Variance

We recommend that you speak to a member from the Planning Department prior to the submission of your minor variance application.

Minor Variance Process

Minor Variance Flow Chart

Application Submission – Applicant submits formal Minor Variance Application

  • File is created and the application is reviewed by the Secretary-Treasurer for completeness.
    • If application is not complete, Secretary-Treasurer notifies applicant of outstanding items.
    • Applicant provides outstanding items.
    • If complete proceed to next step

Notice of Committee of Adjustment Hearing

  • Notice mailed to landowners within 60 metres a well as posted on City website
  • Applicant is required to post public notice sign on property for 10 days prior to meeting.


  • Secretary Treasurer collects comments from internal departments, agencies and public.

Staff Report

  • Planning staff write a recommendation report for the Committee of Adjustment
  • Provided o applicant and anyone that requests.

Committee of Adjustment Public Hearing

  • Committee of Adjustment considers oral and written comments and staff recommendation and makes a decision.

Notice of Decision

  • Notice of decision is mailed to applicant, each person/public body that requested notice.
  • Applicant, specified person, or public body may appeal decision to the Ontario Land Tribunal within 20 days of Decision. If there is an appeal, the OLT will hear and decide on the application.
  • If no appeal, minor variance granted with conditions (if applicable)
    • Applicant clears conditions.
  • If appeal received, Secretary Treasurer prepares record to OLT (No decision until appeal is over)

Clearance Letter issued by Secretary Treasurer

For more information on appeals, please visit: https://olt.gov.on.ca/about-olt/

If no appeals are received, a Clearance Letter will be sent to the applicant and the Committees decision is then considered final.

What could affect the outcome of my application?

  • Objections to the four test of a minor variance from neighbours
  • Comments from departments and other agencies that are not in favor of the application
    • Planning
    • Building
    • Engineering
    • NPCA
    • Niagara Region
    • Niagara Parks Commission
    • Additional agencies (CNR, Hydro, etc.)

What if my application is denied?

You may appeal to the higher authority, OLT. You have twenty (20) days following the date the decision was made to file an appeal with the Secretary Treasurer.

Please find the information regarding appeals here: https://olt.gov.on.ca/about-olt/

How is the decision made on my application?

The Committee of Adjustment must hold a public hearing. The committee is authorized to grant a minor variance in the opinion of the committee if the request satisfies the four tests outlined in the Planning Act.

Can I get a refund if my application is denied?

No, staff still process the information on your application regardless of the outcome.