ExpandWhat is the Committee of Adjustment?

The Planning Act grants authority to Municipal Councils to appoint committees to approve a number of minor applications. Section 45 of the Planning Act permits the Committee of Adjustment to make decisions on Minor Variances from the Zoning By-law and to grant permission for altering or changing a lawful non-conforming use of land, buildings or structures. Section 53 of the Planning Act permits the Committee of Adjustment to make decisions on applications for changes to land configuration in the form of Consents.

Toronto City Council has appointed a Committee of Adjustment consisting of citizen members. The Committee of Adjustment operates as four panels, corresponding to the service areas of the four Community Councils. Each panel comprises five members, including a chairperson. They regularly hold public hearings to consider applications for Minor Variances, permissions and Consents.

Meeting schedules for each area district: Etobicoke York, North York, Toronto East York, Scarborough.

ExpandApplication Requirements

To ensure the City's interests are met and to appropriately assess the technical aspects of your proposal, the City requires submission of a number of information items with your application. These are outlined below as compulsory requirements (those that will be required for the majority of applications) and other possible requirements (those that are dependent upon the specifics of the application).

Please note:

  • While these requirements exceed the minimums established in the Planning Act, they are requested by the City and other municipalities in order to undertake an adequate level of review.
  • Not all of these requirements will apply to your proposal.
  • Your pre-application consultation meeting will determine which of these must be provided with your initial submission to consider your application complete. Submission of a complete application will expedite the City's review of your proposal.

The level of detail required for the information items listed below may vary widely depending on the nature of your property and your proposal. In some cases, a single-page letter from a qualified expert will be adequate, while in other situations a study may be necessary. The requirement for, and scope of, any additional information can be determined during your pre-application consultation meeting.

Compulsory Requirements

Application forms and a checklist of compulsory requirements.

Other Recommended Requirements

Although these are not compulsory requirements, the following items will assist in the review of all Minor Variance and Consent applications:

  • Project Reviews prepared by a City Zoning Examiner, Building Division.
  • The Building Division offers two types of Project reviews, Zoning Certificates (ZC), and Preliminary Project Review (PPR). The highlights and benefits of each review are outlined on the Toronto Building website or you may ask about these services during the pre-application consultation.
  • Preliminary Project Review will identify all required variances to the Zoning By-law.
  • Covering Letter, which briefly outlines the nature of the application, details of the pre-application consultations, full contents of the submission package and contact names for the application.
  • Photographs of the site/building and its context.
  • Letters of Support from adjacent neighbours, tenants and the surrounding neighbourhood (submitted as far in advance of the Hearing as possible).

The following reports/studies are not required for most applications, but may be needed to support the specifics of your proposal. The requirement for, and scope of, any of this work can be determined during your pre-application consultation meeting.

  • Loading Study if the proposal is seeking to amend existing City By-law loading standards.
  • Parking Study if the proposal is seeking to amend existing City By-law parking standards.
  • Archaeological Assessment if the property is on the City's database of lands containing archaeological potential.
  • Heritage Impact Statement (Conservation Strategy) if the property is on the City of Toronto's Inventory of Heritage Properties, which includes both listed and designated properties.
  • Arborist/Tree Preservation Report.
  • Other reports/studies identified through staff consultation.

ExpandTypes of Applications

Minor Variance and Legal Non-Conforming Use Applications

If you wish to use, alter or develop your property in a way that does not conform with the Zoning By-law, you must apply for a site-specific amendment to the By-law. You can do this through either a Zoning By-law Amendment application (commonly called a rezoning) or a Minor Variance application.

  • Rezonings are used for major revisions to the By-law such as land use changes or significant increases in permitted building heights and development densities.
  • Minor Variances are used for issues such as small changes to building setback or parking requirements.


If you are uncertain whether your development proposal involves a rezoning or a Minor Variance, contact Planning staff at your local Customer Service counter.

In some instances, development proposals that require a Minor Variance also involve Site Plan Control approval. The timing of the submission and review of these applications should be discussed in your pre-application consultation meeting.

Minor Variances are not part of the STAR process.

Although not 'required', applications to the Committee of Adjustment should be accompanied by a Preliminary Project Review. A Preliminary Project Review application can be made with the Building Division at any Customer Service counter. A zoning expert will review your proposal and list accurately how your proposal does not comply with the Zoning By-law. Remember, you are going to the Committee of Adjustment to seek relief from complying with the Zoning By-law. Errors in listing the minor variances will result in costly delays for you.

If you do not obtain a Preliminary Project Review (PPR) or a Zoning Certificate (ZC), you are responsible for identifying the Zoning By-law requirements applicable to your property and providing a full list of the variances to the Zoning By-law required by your proposal. You must also sign a waiver form assuming responsibility for correctly identifying the required relief from the By-law.

A Legal Non-Conforming Use exists when zoning for the site does not permit its current use, but this use was permitted and in existence before the enactment of the current Zoning By-law. You may apply to the Committee of Adjustment for:

  • Enlargements or extensions to structures that are Legal Non-Conforming.
  • Changing a Legal Non-Conforming Use to another use not permitted in the By-law
  • In either application, you must demonstrate that the current use has been continuous since the time of its prohibition in the By-law.


Contact the Planning Consultant at your local Customer Service counter in order to determine if your application qualifies as an extension of a Legal Non-Conforming use.
 
Consent Applications

If you wish to divide your land into lots, blocks or units which can be sold, you must apply for:

  • Plan of Subdivision or
  • Plan of Condominium or
  • Part Lot Control Exemption application or
  • Consent for Severance


Consents, processed through the Committee of Adjustment, provide landowners with some flexibility within the subdivision control process. Subdivision control refers to the statutory power of government to regulate the division of land into smaller parcels. All land in Ontario is subject to subdivision control, which is exercised through the mechanism of registered plans of subdivision or approval of Consents.

A Consent application is required to:

  • Divide land (sever) into new lots, and/or
  • Add land to an abutting lot (lot additions, lot adjustments, lot extensions, corrections to deeds or property descriptions), and/or
  • Establish easements or rights-of-way, and/or
  • Lease land or register a mortgage in excess of 21 years


City Council has delegated the approval authority for creation of new lots to the Committee of Adjustment. Approval authority for all other types of Consents has been delegated to the Deputy-Secretary Treasurers of the Committee.

Consent applications are not part of the STAR process.

You should consider applying for a Preliminary Project Review (PPR) or Zoning Certificate (ZC) to confirm that your proposal complies with the Zoning By-law and to determine if any other approvals are required for the release of a building permit.

ExpandReview Procedure for Minor Variances

This section outlines the steps the City will undertake to review your Minor Variance application.

Pre-Application Consultation

You are strongly encouraged to take advantage of this pre-application consultation as it will save you time and money as you proceed through the review process.

If you are unfamiliar with the Minor Variance process, you should speak to the Planning Consultant at your local District office before you complete and submit your application. The Planning Consultant will provide preliminary information and may direct you to other appropriate staff. This may also be followed by a more formal consultation meeting arranged with a Planner.

Preliminary Project Review

It is strongly recommended that you obtain a Preliminary Project Review to identify all the variances to the Zoning By-law required by your proposal. A Preliminary Project Review application can be made with the Building Division at any Customer Service counter.

If you do not obtain a Preliminary Project Review, you are responsible for identifying the Zoning By-law requirements applicable to your property and providing a full list of the variances to the Zoning By-law required by your proposal. You must also sign a waiver form assuming responsibility for correctly identifying the required relief from the Zoning By-law. Any errors in your submission may result in delays in the resolution of your application. Additional information is available online.

Submission of a Complete Application

The City will consider your application to be complete if it is accompanied by the required information identified in this Guide and through your pre-application consultation discussions. A complete application will allow a more efficient and comprehensive review of all supporting material by the City.

If you submit an incomplete application, the City may respond in a number of ways. Usually, the City will return your application and request that you submit the outstanding information. Making your submission in person is recommended as this provides an opportunity for immediate confirmation of the completeness of your submission.

Scheduling of Hearing and Posting of Public Notice Sign

Upon receipt of a complete application you will be: 

  • Notified by City staff and provided with the staff contact for your application.
  • Advised as to your likely Hearing date.
  • Provided with a public notice sign, which must be posted in a prominent location on the property and visible from the street for 10 days prior to the Hearing.
    • You must ensure the sign remains in its posted location for this ten day period and repair or maintain the sign to ensure it remains legible.
    • In certain situations it may be appropriate to post more than one sign on the property.
    • Note: if the sign is not posted in a location that is visible from the street for the prescribed time, your application may be deferred until such time as proper notice of the Hearing has been posted.


If you have any questions regarding this process, contact the staff assigned to your application. They will provide you with any information you require and advice regarding any materials that may assist with your application. They are also the City contact identified on the Notice of Public Hearing and can advise you of any neighbourhood concerns arising from your application.

It is strongly recommended that you discuss your proposal with adjacent residents in order to address or alleviate concerns that may affect the resolution of your application. You may also wish to contact the Ward Councillor to discuss your proposal with him/her.

Notice of Public Hearing and Application Circulation

The City will mail a Notice of Public Hearing to all owners of land within 60 metres of the subject property at least 10 days prior to the scheduled Hearing date. A copy of the notice will also be provided to any party requesting a copy (this may include community associations). The Notice of Public Hearing will contain details of the proposal and identify the variance(s) being requested. A site plan will also be included with the notice illustrating the details of the proposal.

A copy of the Notice of Public Hearing and the corresponding site plan is also circulated to City divisions for review. When appropriate, these divisions will provide comments to the Committee of Adjustment and may provide conditions for approval of the application that would be applied by the Committee. Depending on the circumstances of your property, a similar circulation may be undertaken with external agencies such as the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority or the Toronto Transit Commission.

An agenda for the Public Hearing is prepared one week before the Hearing date. This agenda will contain a copy of the original Notice of Public Hearing (or any amendments) and any appropriate site plan, elevation or floor plan drawings. It may also contain a staff report regarding the application (including conditions for approval), any letters of support or objection, maps and photos of the application and surrounding properties and any other relevant material that would assist the Committee.

Committee of Adjustment Hearing

The timeline for Hearing a Minor Variance application under The Planning Act is 30 days from the date a complete application is accepted. The Committee also usually hears the items in the order they appear on the agenda. However, this is at the discretion of the Committee and occasionally items are considered out of sequence.

At the Hearing, the Committee will introduce your item. As an applicant, either you or someone appointed by you, will have an opportunity to present your proposal. Any person having an interest in your application will be invited to identify themselves and given an opportunity to make their views known.

To approve any Minor Variance, the Committee of Adjustment must be satisfied that:

  • The proposal is appropriate for the development of the land and/or building.
  • The general intent and purpose of the City's Zoning By-law is maintained.
  • The general intent and purpose of the City's Official Plan is maintained.
  • The variance requested is minor.


To approve any application for an extension, enlargement or change of a Legal Non-Conforming Use, the Committee of Adjustment must be satisfied that:

  • The extension or enlargement does not substantially increase the usability of the property.
  • The extension or enlargement does not adversely affect the surrounding properties or neighbourhood in general.
  • Any change of use is either similar to the existing use or more closely related to the uses permitted in the Zoning By-law.


The Committee makes its decision through a detailed review of all material filed with your application, letters received, deputations made at the Public Hearing and the results of site inspections.

Committee of Adjustment Decision

The Committee of Adjustment will usually decide on your proposal at the Hearing. The applicant and all persons making a written request will be notified in writing of the Committee's decision within 10 days of the decision being made.

The Committee may also choose to adjourn the Hearing to a later date. If so, the Committee may either set a specific date for the item to be heard again or may defer it until such time as specific stipulations are met (i.e., a neighbourhood meeting is held or revised drawings are submitted). If this is the case, you must contact City staff once the stipulations have been met and a new Hearing date will be established. Should this result in a revision to the variance(s) being requested, a new Notice of Public Hearing may be required.

Starting May 3, 2017, most appeals of Toronto Committee of Adjustment decisions will be dealt with by the Toronto Local Appeal Body (TLAB) instead of the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).

  • If no appeal is submitted, the decision is final and binding. You will receive written confirmation from the City that no appeals were filed. You can then satisfy any conditions of approval, if required.


Ensure that you provide copies of the Committee's decision and the final and binding letter to the Building Division when you apply for your building permit.

A similar appeal procedure applies should the Committee of Adjustment refuse your application.

ExpandReview Procedure for Consent Applications

There are two types of review procedures for Consents. City Council has delegated the approval authority for creation of new lots to the Committee of Adjustment. Approval authority for all other types of Consents has been delegated to the Deputy-Secretary Treasurers of the Committee.

Pre-Application Consultation

You are strongly encouraged to take advantage of this consultation as it will save you time and money as you proceed through the review process.

If you are unfamiliar with the Consent application process, you should speak to the Planning Consultant at your local District office before you complete and submit your application. The Planning Consultant will provide preliminary information and may direct you to other appropriate staff. This may also be followed by a more formal consultation meeting arranged with a Planner.

Project Review

It is also recommended that you obtain a Project Review to confirm that your proposal complies with the Zoning By-law and to determine if any other approvals are required for the release of a building permit. A Project Review application can be made with the Building Division at any Customer Service counter. If you do not obtain a Project Review, you are responsible for identifying the Zoning By-law requirements applicable to your property.

Submission of a Complete Application

The City will consider your application to be complete if it is accompanied by the required information identified in this Guide and through your pre-application consultation discussions. A complete application will allow a more efficient and comprehensive review of all supporting material.

If you submit an incomplete application, the City may respond in a number of ways. Usually, the City will return your application and request that you submit the outstanding information. Making your submission in person is recommended as this provides an opportunity for immediate confirmation of the completeness of your submission.

Application Circulation

Your application will be circulated to a number of City divisions for technical review and comment. These divisions will provide comments to the Committee of Adjustment and, where appropriate, outline conditions for the approval of the application that would be applied by the Committee.

Depending upon the circumstances of your property, various external agencies may also be asked to comment on your proposal. For example, if your property is close to a watercourse, the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority will be asked for their input and/or approval (a service for which the TRCA charges). If your property is next to a rail line, the appropriate rail authority will be asked to comment.

You are strongly encouraged to consult with City divisions and external agencies that may have comments or requirements regarding your proposal. These consultations may reduce delays in deciding on your application. During your pre-application consultation, the Planning Consultant can assist in identifying the divisions and agencies that may have an interest in your application.

Delegated Consent Applications

City Council has delegated approval authority for Consents, other than the creation of new lots, to the Deputy-Secretary Treasurers of the Committee of Adjustment. Lot additions, validations of property title and creation of easements and rights-of-way may be resolved through a delegated Consent. Discuss your proposal with the Planning Consultant at your local District office to determine if it would qualify as a delegated Consent. If your application is deemed to be a delegated Consent, the application will not go before the Committee of Adjustment at a Public Hearing.

The City will mail a Notice of Receipt of Application to all owners of land within 60 metres of the subject property advising that a delegated Consent application has been submitted. If no written objections are received within 14 days from the mailing date, the Deputy-Secretary Treasurer may grant your Consent. To approve any delegated Consent, the Deputy-Secretary Treasurer must be satisfied that:

  • Plan of Subdivision is not required.
  • Criteria of Section 51(24) of the Planning Act are met, including whether the proposal conforms to the Official Plan and adjacent Plans of Subdivision, whether municipal services are adequate to service the proposal and whether the proposal is premature or in the public interest.


The Deputy-Secretary Treasurer forms his/her opinion through a detailed review of all material filed with an application, all written submissions and a site inspection.

When a delegated Consent application is approved, the processes described below regarding appeals to the Ontario Municipal Board and the issuance of a Certificate of Consent apply.


Posting of Public Notice Sign


You will be provided with a public notice sign:

  • It must be posted in a prominent location on the property and visible from the street for 14 days prior to the Hearing (or when the Notice of Receipt of Application is mailed for a delegated Consent).
  • You must ensure the sign remains in its posted location for this 14 day period and repair or maintain the sign to ensure it remains legible.
  • In certain situations it may be appropriate to post more than one sign on the property.
  • Please note that if the sign is not posted in a location that is visible from the street for the prescribed time, your application may be deferred until the notice has been properly posted.


If you have any questions regarding this process, please contact the staff assigned to your application. They will provide you with any information you require and will provide advice regarding any materials that may assist with your application. They are also the City contact identified on the Notice of Public Hearing and can advise you of any neighbourhood concerns arising from your application.

It is strongly recommended that you discuss your proposal with adjacent residents in order to address or alleviate concerns that may affect the resolution of your application. You may also wish to contact the Ward Councillor to discuss your proposal with him/her.

Notice of Public Hearing

The City will mail a Notice of Public Hearing to all owners of land within 60 metres of the subject property at least 14 days prior to the scheduled Hearing date. A copy of the notice will also be provided to any party requesting a copy (this may include community associations). The Notice of Public Hearing will contain the details of the proposal, including illustrative drawings.

An agenda for the Public Hearing is prepared one week before the Hearing date. This agenda will contain a copy of the original Notice of Public Hearing (or any amendments) and any appropriate plans or drawings. It may also contain a staff report regarding the application (including conditions for approval), any letters of support or objection, maps and photos of the application and surrounding properties and any other relevant material that would assist the Committee.

Committee of Adjustment Hearing

The Committee of Adjustment usually hears Consent applications within 60 days from the date of submission of a complete application. The Committee also usually hears the items in the order they appear on the agenda. However, this is at the discretion of the Committee and occasionally items are considered out of sequence.

At the Hearing, the Committee will introduce your item. As an applicant, either you or someone appointed by you will have an opportunity to present your proposal. Any person having an interest in your application will be invited to identify themselves and given an opportunity to make their views known.

To approve any Consent, the Committee of Adjustment must be satisfied that:

  • Plan of Subdivision is not required.
  • The criteria of Section 51(24) of the Planning Act are met, including whether the proposal conforms to the Official Plan and adjacent Plans of Subdivision, whether municipal services are adequate to service the proposal and whether the proposed land division is premature or in the public interest.


The Committee forms its decision through a detailed review of all material filed with an application, letters received, deputations made at the Public Hearing and the results of site inspections.
 
Committee of Adjustment Decision

The Committee of Adjustment will usually decide on your proposal at the Hearing. You and any person making a written request will be notified in writing of the Committee's decision within 15 days of the decision being made.

The Committee may also choose to adjourn the Hearing to a later date. If so, the Committee may either set a specific date for the item to be heard again or may defer it until such time as specific stipulations are met (i.e., a neighbourhood meeting is held or revised drawings are submitted). If this is the case, you must contact City staff once the stipulations have been met and a new Hearing date will be established. Should this result in a revision to the proposal, a new Notice of Public Hearing may be required.
 
Starting May 3, 2017, most appeals of Toronto Committee of Adjustment decisions will be dealt with by the Toronto Local Appeal Body (TLAB) instead of the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).

  • If no appeal is submitted, the decision is final and binding.
  • You will receive written confirmation from the City that no appeals were filed.


A similar appeal procedure applies should the Committee of Adjustment refuse your application.

Satisfying Conditions of Approval

Circulation of the application may result in conditions being recommended for any approval of your Consent. These conditions may be fulfilled before your application goes before the Committee of Adjustment or, more often, will be imposed by the Committee as a condition of its approval.

Should your application be approved with conditions, and there is no appeal, you have one year within which to satisfy these conditions. If these conditions are not fulfilled within one year from the date of the notice of approval, the Consent is deemed to have been refused. A new Consent application would be required.

If there is an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board, you would have one year to fulfill any conditions from the date of the order of the Municipal Board.

Certificate of Consent

Once you have satisfied the conditions of approval, the City will issue a Certificate of Consent. The following must be provided to the Deputy-Secretary Treasurer of the Committee of Adjustment before the Certificate is issued:

  • Draft Certificate of Consent that includes a complete and registerable description of the land that is the subject of the Consent.
  • Deposited Reference Plan for the subject property that accurately reflects the approved Consent application.
  • Proof that all conditions of approval have been fulfilled within one year from the date of the notice of approval.
  • In the case of a property line adjustment or a lot addition, you must provide a solicitors' undertaking that the severed lands will be joined with an abutting parcel.


After the City issues the Certificate of Consent, you have two years from the date of its issuance to carry out the necessary legal transaction (i.e., the registration of the deed), otherwise the Consent lapses. Ensure that you provide a copy of the registered deed to the Building division when you apply for your building permit.

ExpandWhat To Expect At the Public Hearing

Hearing Procedure (General Outline)

  • The Chair will vet the agenda by time slot to determine which applications will be contested and which applications will not.
  • Applications that are not contested will be heard first by the Committee.
  • Applications that are contested (i.e. have neighbours present who wish to address the Members) will be held to the end of the time slot.
  • If the item you are interested in is held, the Chair will suggest that parties meet outside the hearing room to discuss concerns.  Meeting with the applicant is only a suggestion and not a requirement.

 Making a Submission to the Committee 

  • The applicant/agent will speak first and will have 5 minutes to make his/her presentation and another 5 minutes to rebut comments made by interested parties. 
  • Interested parties will be invited to speak after the applicant's initial presentation. Each speaker will be given 5 minutes and one (1) opportunity to address the Committee, so please focus your comments, as follows:
    • State clearly your name and address.
    • Explain how the variances or consent being requested will impact the enjoyment of your property and neighbourhood (positively or negatively).                                            
  • Review the variance requests keeping in mind the 4 tests that the Committee must apply, which are:
    • Is the variance requested minor;
    • Is the proposal appropriate for the development of the land and/or building;
    • Is the general intent and purpose of the City's Zoning By-law maintained; and
    • Is general intent and purpose of the Official Plan maintained 


What cannot be considered by the Committee

  • Aspects of the proposal that do not require variances (example: If building height is not listed as a requested variance then it is not a matter that the Committee can consider).
  • Noise, pollution, property maintenance, construction and engineering concerns (please contact Toronto Building).
  • Prosecution for Illegal construction. The Committee is required to view these applications as if the construction has not been started or completed.
  • Personal comments about neighbours, agents, applicants.

  The decision

  • Once the applicant/agent has completed the rebuttal, the Chair will bring the matter "into committee" and no further comments will be permitted, unless the Chair or a Committee Member asks a question.
  • The Chair and Members will announce their decision at the hearing and will state conditions of approval, if imposed.
  • The Committee may defer an application BUT only if circumstances warrant such action.
  • If you speak at the hearing or wish to receive a copy of the written Decision, please complete the Decision Request Card (provided in the hearing room) and file it with the Recording Secretary.

 Deferrals

  • Deferrals are not awarded automatically and requests are considered by the Committee at the public hearing.
  • Justification for a deferral must be provided to the Committee.
  • You are advised to be prepared to present your proposal, as the Committee may not grant your deferral request.
  • If Committee chooses to adjourn the Hearing to a later date, the Committee may either set a specific date for the item to be heard again or may defer it until such time as specific stipulations are met (i.e., a neighbourhood meeting is held or revised drawings are submitted).  If this is the case, you must contact City staff once the stipulations have been met and a new Hearing date will be established. Should this result in a revision to the proposal, a new Notice of Public Hearing may be required.
  • The Committee members may impose a deferral fee to cover the cost of sending new Notices when the application is rescheduled. The deferral fee MUST be paid prior to re-scheduling the application.