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Your Guide to the Committee of Adjustment


What is the Committee of Adjustment?

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. 

Minor Variance 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:

  1. the variance is minor;
  2. the general intent and purpose of the Zoning By-law is maintained;
  3. the general intent and purpose of the Official Plan is maintained; and
  4. the variance is desirable for the appropriate use of land, building or structure.

Land Severance (Consent) Applications 

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:

  • divide your land (sever) into new lots;
  • lease or register a mortgage for 21 years or more over part of the property;
  • establish easements or rights-of-ways (to use or enter a private property by way of an agreement); and
  • add land to an abutting lot (lot additions, extensions, etc.).

In other words, you must get permission (consent) from the Committee of Adjustment before making such changes. 

What Happens After an Application is Submitted?

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. 

The Appeal Process 

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). 

Legal Assistance

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.