If you live in Ontario, chances are you may have heard of your municipality’s Committee of Adjustment.
The Committee of Adjustment is an independent body appointed by a municipality’s council (under the authority of Ontario’s Planning Act) to make decisions on minor variance applications and consent applications.
If you want to make changes to your property that do not meet the requirements of your respective zoning by-law, but satisfy the general purpose of zoning standards, you may consider applying for a minor variance. Examples of minor variance applications include relief from building height, driveway width, building setback, and accessory building requirements.
The Committee of Adjustment will approve an application if most of its members agree that the following test (set out in section 45(1) of the Planning Act) is met:
The consent approval process (described in section 53 of the Planning Act) is an alternative for land division proposals that are relatively less complex and where a plan of subdivision is not necessary.
A consent application is required if you want to:
In other words, you must get permission (consent) from the Committee of Adjustment before making such changes.
Once your application it submitted it is generally circulated to relevant internal departments and may also be circulated to external agencies (such as Conservation Authorities and others) for their comments.
A notice of the proposal is sent to property owners within a specific radius of the applicant’s property and a notice sign is placed on the subject property.
A public hearing is scheduled before the Committee of Adjustment. At this hearing the Committee considers oral and written evidence from the Applicant, comments from Town staff, and comments from residents who have received notice of the application (typically neighbours, if they oppose the application).
The Committee of Adjustment will either approve, approve with conditions, refuse, or defer the application.
If you disagree with the Committee of Adjustment’s decision, you can appeal it to the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) within the 20-day appeal period (which is not business days).
If you need any legal assistance with a Committee of Adjustment matter (for example, to bring or oppose an application), please do not hesitate to contact our municipal law department.
The foregoing should not be considered to be legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Please consult a lawyer to get advice and an opinion on your unique circumstances.