Business >> Planning & Development

Minor Variance Process


1. WHEN IS A MINOR VARIANCE REQUIRED?

A minor variance or permission to change or expand legal non-conforming uses is necessary if you wish to construct, renovate, or alter a building in a way that does not meet the requirements of the Town's Zoning By-law.

A few examples of Minor Variances:

  • front, rear, side yard lot lines from the building (including porches, decks or balconies) are less than required
  • changes to required lot area or lot coverage
  • building or accessory height requirements
  • if you wish to expand or change a use that is considered “legal non-conforming”

The Committee must satisfy themselves that the minor variance will not have a negative impact on the surrounding area, and is truly a MINOR request for change.  Anything not considered "minor" must proceed through the Zoning By-law Amendment process, which is directly handled by Town Council.

A minor variance or permission to construct is necessary if you wish to obtain a building permit to construct, renovate, or alter a building in a way that does not meet the requirements of the Town's Zoning By-law 129-90.  

For example, if you wish to build an addition to the rear of your house that comes as close as 6 metres (20 feet) to your rear lot line, and the Zoning By-law requires that you have a rear yard of 7.6 metres (25 feet), then you would have to apply for a "minor variance" from the By-law. A minor variance is also necessary if you wish to expand or change a use that is considered "legal non-conforming".

2. HOW DO I APPLY FOR A MINOR VARIANCE?

Before making your application, we recommend that you speak to a staff member in the Planning Department for their comments on your proposal. Since the Planning Department provides the Committee of Adjustment with comments on applications, it is best to work with them to alleviate any potential problems that may arise.

3. HOW IS THE VARIANCE APPLICATION EVALUATED?

When the Committee is considering a variance application, the four tests as prescribed by Sec. 45(1) of the Planning Act are applied to determine if the variance should be approved. The four tests are:

  • Is the application minor in nature?
  • Is it appropriate and desirable development for the area?
  • Is it in keeping with the purpose and intent of the Zoning By-law?
  • Is it in keeping with the purpose and intent of the Official Plan?

4. MINOR VARIANCE PROCESS

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5. HOW LONG WILL I HAVE TO WAIT?

A verbal decision is given to you the night of the hearing, unless the Committee feels it needs to further information before making a proper decision. A written decision will be sent to you within 10 days from the hearing date.

The Committee of Adjustment hearing will take place approximately within a MAXIMUM OF 45 DAYS from the day your application is submitted to the Town staff.

The Committee's decision is subject to a 20 DAY APPEAL PERIOD, during which time anyone, including yourself, who is not satisfied with the decision may lodge an appeal with the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT). If no appeals are received within the 20 day period, the Committee's decision is then considered final.

6. DOES SOMEONE HAVE TO ATTEND THE COMMITTEE OF ADJUSTMENT HEARING?

Yes, either you, as a registered property owner, or someone authorized in writing by you.

7. WHAT COULD AFFECT THE OUTCOME OF MY APPLICATION?

(a) Valid objections based on the four tests of a minor variance from neighbours.

(b) Negative comments from one or more departments or agencies such as:

  • Planning
  • Building
  • Fire
  • Engineering
  • Niagara Parks Commission
  • Region of Niagara (Planning, Private Sewage Systems, Archaeological Potential)
  • Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority
  • Other outside agencies

8. WHAT ABOUT THE CONDITIONS OF A VARIANCE APPROVAL?

A variance approval may contain various conditions including approvals from outside agencies, sediment control, or any other condition that the Committee feels is appropriate. Every variance approval will contain the condition that there is a 20 day appeal period before a building permit can be issued.

9. WHAT CAN I DO IF MY APPLICATION IS TURNED DOWN?

You can file an appeal to a higher authority - the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT). You have twenty (20) days following the date the Committee of Adjustment decision is made to file an appeal with the Secretary-Treasurer.

An appeal to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) must be accompanied by a fee of $300.00 payable to the Minister of Finance. If an appeal is received, the entire matter is taken out of the Committee’s jurisdiction, and the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) then arranges for a new hearing, which may take up to six (6) months or more to schedule. The decision of the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) is considered final.  More information can be found at  https://elto.gov.on.ca/tribunals/lpat/about-lpat/

10. IF SOMEONE OBJECTS, IS MY APPLICATION AUTOMATICALLY REFUSED?

No, the Committee of Adjustment must weigh all the evidence presented at the public hearing a make a determination on that basis. The Committee must also find your request meets the four (4) tests of the Planning Act under Sec. 45(1) as follows:

  • Is the application minor in nature?
  • Is it appropriate and desirable development for the area?
  • Is it in keeping with the purpose and intent of the Zoning By-law?
  • Is it in keeping with the purpose and intent of the Official Plan?

The decision of the Committee is subject to a 20 day appeal period and may be appealed by neighbours or anyone concerned with the application,

11. DO I GET MY MONEY BACK IF MY APPLICATION IS REFUSED?

No, staff time and costs are incurred regardless of the outcome.