Minor Variance

What is a Minor Variance?

Minor Variances allow a landowner to seek relief from specific requirements of a Zoning By-law, including but not limited to, building height, setbacks, lot coverage, lot frontage, or lot area.

When considering a Minor Variance application, the Committee of Adjustment will evaluate whether the proposed variance meets the following four tests in accordance with Section 45(1) of the Planning Act:

  1. Is the variance minor in nature?   
  2. Is the variance desirable for the appropriate development of the lands in question?
  3. Does the variance meet the general intent and purpose of the Zoning By-law
  4. Does the variance meet the general intent and purpose of the Official Plan?

When is a Minor Variance Required?

When a development proposal (new construction, addition, renovation, lot creation / addition) does not comply with the City’s Zoning By-law, a landowner may apply for a Minor Variance.

Permission from the Committee of Adjustment is also required to expand, enlarge, or change a legal non-conforming use.

A legal non-conforming use occurs when the use of an existing lot, building, or structure is not permitted under the current Zoning By-law, but was permitted in the past under a previous Zoning By-law.

Applying for a Minor Variance

A pre-consultation meeting is not required in advance of submitting a Minor Variance application. However, Applicants are strongly encouraged to speak with a City Planner, the Secretary-Treasurer to the Committee of Adjustment, and agencies (as applicable) in advance of submitting a formal application.

Application Submission Requirements:

Committee of Adjustment hearings are scheduled once a month. Please see the Committee of Adjustment Schedule for application submission deadlines and hearing dates.

Minor Variance Application Process

Minor Variance Application

Time to Process: 30 Days

StepCity's RoleApplicants RoleTarget Timeline
Pre-Consultation--Complete Pre-consultation process--
Application Submission--Submits:
  • formal application
  • preliminary sketch prepared by OLS and studies
-Reviews files (i.e., names, unlocked status) 2 days--2 days
-Generates invoicePays required fees--
Review for CompletenessSecretary-Treasurer reviews material and issues notice of complete/incomplete application.--1 week
Circulation (When Complete)Secretary-Treasurer circulates to internal departments and external agencies.--1 week
Committee of Adjustment HearingHeld to inform and receive comments from area residents.Applicant or agent attends to present and answer questions.Occurs 10 days after notice is given in accordance with Committee's schedule.
-Planning report is on Committee's agenda. Committee will make a decision on the application.----
-Notice of Decision given by Secretary-Treasurer.--1 week
Provisional Consent GrantedIf no appeals, Minor Variance granted. Declaration issued by Secretary Treasurer.--20 days after Notice of Decision
---Applicant has to fulfill conditions, if any.--

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: Will I receive a refund if my application is denied?

A: Whether an application is approved or denied, Staff time is still required to process an application. As such, refunds will not be granted if an application is denied by the Committee of Adjustment.

Q: What can I do if my application is denied?

A: An applicant can appeal the decision of the Committee of Adjustment to the Ontario Land Tribunal within 20 days of the decision being made.

Q: What factors could affect the outcome of my application?


  • Failure to meet the four tests of a Minor Variance
  • Input from area residents
  • Comments from City Staff and external agencies

Q: How is a decision made on my application?

A: The Committee of Adjustment is required to hold a public hearing. The Committee will evaluate the application against the four tests.