Frequently Asked Questions

Learn about the types of approvals you may encounter during the planning process for your project. Plan Muskoka can help you navigate the process, saving you time and money.

What is a Zoning By-law Amendment and when do I need one?

Zoning By-law Amendments are made under section 34 of the Planning Act and are normally required when there is a change in land use proposed on a property and where the Official Plan designation permits such land use. Depending on the type of By-law in effect in the municipality this could also be called a Community Planning Permit By-law Amendment. Zoning By-law Amendments can also be required for major deviations from the requirements of the zoning by-law, such as regulations for setbacks, lot coverage, building height, etc.

What are Minor Variances?

Minor Variances are, as the name suggests, minor variances from the requirements of the Zoning By-law. The variance must meet the four tests of a minor variance required under section 45 of the Planning Act, being that it conforms to the general intent of the Official Plan and the Zoning By-law, is desirable for the appropriate use or development of the lands, and is minor in nature. Approvals for Minor Variances are granted by a municipality’s Committee of Adjustment.

What is a Community Planning Permit?

Community Planning Permits are required to site and implement the development of property and are only required when a Municipality has a Community Planning Permit By-law in place. Variations to regulations of a Community Planning Permit By-law can be granted by municipal Staff and/or Council similar to a Minor Variance made under section 45 of the Planning Act. Community Planning Permits were introduced in the Planning Act in order to streamline the Planning process by combining and replacing Site Plan and Minor Variance approvals.

Why do people close and purchase public road allowances?

Often Road Allowances such as Original Road Allowances and Original Shore Road Allowances are undeveloped parcels of land owned by the municipality that are sought to be purchased by an abutting land owner and added to their lands. The process of the purchase includes the requirement to close the road officially by way of a by-law passed by Council, for which an application is made to the Municipality. The municipality’s Official Plan will often stipulate what criteria needs to be met in order for Council to consider the closure and sale of those lands.

What are Consents/Land Severances?

Consent approvals under section 53 of the Planning Act are required to create new properties, grant easements or right-of-ways, transfer lot additions to abutting lands, and recreate previously merged properties. Approval of Consents can be granted by either Council or a municipality’s Committee of Adjustment and are accompanied by conditions which must be fulfilled within two years of the decision.

When are Plans of Subdivision required?

Plans of Subdivision are required when the proposed lot creation exceeds more than a few lots, which is normally handled by the Consent process. The Plan of Subdivision process normally is required when multiple properties and new public roads are proposed, along with the extension of municipal water and sewer services. Plans of Subdivisions often include the collaboration of several different professionals to complete and require entering into an agreement with the approval authority to implement the conditions and recommendations of the approval.

What is a Condominium Description?

The approval of a Condominium Description is similar to the process of a Plan of Subdivision but the end result is the approval for the creation of a Condominium Corporation. Condominium ownership is a different type of ownership than that which is created by the subdivision process; it involves several unit owners that collectively own and maintain the entire property as a whole.

When are Official Plan Amendments required?

Official Plan Amendments are required for deviations from the permitted land use or policy direction for a specific property or properties. Often, Official Plan Amendments will be concurrently applied for with Zoning By-law Amendments and may seek approval for large-scale developments in areas of the Municipality where such land uses were not originally contemplated or when a settlement boundary expansion is proposed.

What are Site Plan Approvals and when are they required?

Site Plan Approvals are made under section 41 of the Planning Act and are required when a Site Plan Control By-law is in place in a Municipality. The application process is used to implement the design of a proposed development physically on the property. The proposal must comply with the regulations Zoning By-law or other site specific conditions or approvals for the property. Often engineering and architectural plans are included in the drawings that are required and approved by the municipality. The site plan drawing itself is attached to a formal agreement that is entered into between the land owner and the municipality, which is then registered on the title of the land. A Community Planning Permit, if available, replaces the Site Plan Approval process.

What are appeals to the Ontario Land Tribunal and what is a Planner’s role in the process?

Almost all decisions made under the Planning Act by approval authorities can be appealed, at which time the file is forwarded to the Ontario Land Tribunal or “OLT”, previously known as the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) and the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT). The appeal can be made during the statutory appeal period by any member of the public. Examples include an applicant appealing the decision to deny an application, or an objecting member of the public appealing a decision to approve an application. The appeal is handled by the OLT similar to a court case: the two sides of the appeal present a case, usually involving lawyers representing each side. Sometimes multiple parties are involved. A Planning Consultant can serve as an expert witness and provide professional evidence in the field of Land Use Planning at the hearing.