I’ve been denied a building permit because my construction project does not meet requirements under my municipality’s zoning by-law. What can I do?

Municipalities in Ontario regulate the use of land using an instrument called a zoning by-law, among other tools. A zoning by-law sets out the uses permitted on a property as well as minimum development requirements that must be met. Where a proposed use or development does not conform with the zoning by-law requirements, an application for a building permit will be denied by municipal staff. All hope may not be lost at this stage, however. Ontario’s Planning Act allows a municipality’s Committee of Adjustment to authorize a “minor variance” from the provisions of a zoning by-law if, in the Committee of Adjustment’s opinion, the following four criteria are met:
  1. the variance from the zoning by-law is minor in nature;
  2. the application represents appropriate and desirable development or use for the land, building or structure;
  3. the application is in keeping with the purpose and intent of the zoning by-law; and
  4. the application is in keeping with the purpose and intent of the municipality’s official plan.
If you are considering initiating or have already initiated a minor variance application, it may be in your best interest to obtain legal advice or assistance with respect to this process. We encourage you to contact us to discuss your matter.