Also known as a proponent. Someone who applies to receive approval for a change in land use or for a development through the planning system (under the Planning Act).
The approval authority is the level of government which has the power to approve, modify or deny a land use or development application. If you live in a lower tier municipality, the approval authority for your land use application could be your municipality, the upper tier municipality or the Ministry of Municipal Affairs. The approval authority is not the same for all application types, so check with your municipality or the Ministry of Municipal Affairs’ municipal services office about where to send your application.
The bill in the legislature that introduced the Building Better Communities and Conserving Watersheds Act, 2017. This law replaced the Ontario Municipal Board with the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal, and created the Local Planning Appeal Support Centre.
Case Management Conference
A meeting held at the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal to bring together parties and others with an interest in the appeal to:
- clarify what the appeal is about
- narrow the issues in dispute, and
- set out how the processes at the tribunal will unfold
Committee of Adjustment
Community Consultation, Community Meeting
At these meetings, the public is invited to hear about the planning application. The developer or their representative, and the municipal planning department are usually at the meeting. The municipality usually advertises these meetings on its website, in the newspaper, through the local councillor’s communications, or through a flyer in mailboxes of properties near the proposed development.
Municipalities also organize meetings to consult on other planning initiatives like urban design policies and secondary plans, for example.
A community meeting is different from a public meeting.
A consent is an application to divide a property into smaller lots, sometimes called land severance. “Consent” can also refer to applications for easements and lot adjustments. You can appeal a decision to approve or deny a consent.
Council or Municipal Council
Municipalities (e.g. a town, village, city or hamlet) are governed by municipal councils. Their job is to make decisions about municipal financing, services and infrastructure. Deciding how land is used is a municipal responsibility. Community centres, parks, garbage collection, water and sewage are examples of municipal infrastructure and services. In Ontario, the head of a municipal council is either called the mayor or the reeve. The members of council are called councillors or aldermen.
Decision (of the approval authority)
In its decision, an approval authority may approve, approve with conditions, modify or refuse:
In all cases, a notice of decision will be sent to the applicant and anyone else who requested notice. The notice could also be posted on the municipality’s website. The notice will include instructions on where to file an appeal, if an appeal is allowed.
The creation of a new lot, a change in what a piece of land can be used for, or the construction of buildings and structures which require approval under the Planning Act.
Easements are a right given to cross or use land for a specific purpose when the land is owned by somebody else.
Land Use Planning
Land use planning is a process that determines how land can be developed and what it can be used for. The province, municipalities, and Northern planning boards have a role in the process. The public also plays an important role by providing input on policy proposals and development applications. Provincial policies and plans, municipal official plans and zoning by-laws are tools of land use planning. The Canadian Institute of Planners has more information on its webpage “About Planning”
Local Planning Appeal Tribunal
Called the LPAT (pronounced L-PAT) for short. A tribunal (like a court) where people can appeal land use planning decisions. Members, also called adjudicators, consider the evidence and make a decision.
If someone wants to develop their property in a way that does not meet the requirements of the zoning by-law, they can apply for a minor variance. The Planning Act describes four tests an application must meet to get approval:
- It meets the general intent and purpose of the official plan.
- It meets the general intent and purpose of the zoning by-law.
- It is minor in nature.
- It is desirable and appropriate.
You can appeal a decision to approve or deny a minor variance.
Notice of Complete Application
When an applicant submits a planning application with all the materials required by the approval authority, the approval authority issues a Notice of Complete Application. This notice starts the clock running on the time allowed for the approval authority to review the application and issue its decision.
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs has a webpage which explains what is included in a complete application.
Notice of Public Meeting
A Notice of Public Meeting is a notification that council has scheduled a public meeting to consider input on a planning application. The notice has the date, time and location of the meeting, a description of the purpose of the meeting and a contact person at the municipality. You may get the notice in your mailbox if you live near the property, or you may see it posted on the property, in the newspaper or on the municipality’s website.
Example of a Notice of Public Meeting.
Notice of Hearing (for Committee of Adjustment)
A notice of hearing is notification that the Committee of Adjustment will be considering an application for a minor variance or consent. The notice includes the date, time and location of the meeting, a description of the application and how to submit comments. Anyone may submit comments on the application, attend and speak at the hearing.
Notice of Application
The applicant must post notice of a planning application they have submitted to inform the public of the proposal and to encourage public engagement and comment. Notice can take many forms, including signs on the site, newspaper notices, electronic notices, and mail outs to nearby property owners.
Official Plan, Municipal Plan
An official plan is the over-arching land use planning document for a municipality. It sets policy directions and goals that will shape your neighbourhood, town, village or city.
The official plan must be consistent with the Provincial Policy Statement and conform with provincial land use plans. All decisions on other planning applications are required to conform with the policies of the official plan.
An official plan deals with issues like:
- Where new housing, industry, offices and shops will be located
- What services like roads, public transportation, community facilities and parks will be needed
- When, and in what order, parts of your community will grow
- Economic development
- Urban design and built form
The official plan lets residents know what to expect and provides a framework for the zoning by-laws.
Official Plan Amendment
If someone wants to use or develop their property it in a way that conflicts with the official plan, they can apply to amend the plan.
Municipalities and planning boards may also amend the official plan to update policies or introduce new policies such as secondary plans.
Some types of official plan amendments are exempt from appeal.
Ontario Municipal Board
The Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) was the adjudicative tribunal that heard appeals of municipal land-use planning decisions like official plans, zoning by-laws, plans of subdivision and minor variances before April 3, 2018. Since April 3, 2018, that role has been filled by the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (with some exceptions in Toronto where there is Local Appeal Body. See TLAB).
The Planning Act is the law that sets out the ground rules for land use planning in Ontario. It gives municipalities the power to create and amend official plans and zoning by-laws. In turn, those plans and by-laws provide direction to municipal staff members and other authorities who are making decisions about planning and development.
Anyone who wishes to develop property in a way that isn’t already permitted “as of right” needs an approved planning application. The most common planning applications in Ontario are:
- Application to amend the official plan
- Application for rezoning
- Application for a minor variance
- Application for a severance (also called a “consent”)
- Site plan application
- Plan of subdivision
An application usually needs to include drawings, information about the current and proposed use of the property, studies that show the application is appropriate and a fee. The municipality’s official plan describes what is needed for a “complete application.”
A broad term that refers to the types of plans, by-laws and approvals that are a community uses to achieve its land use planning objectives. These include official plans, zoning by-laws, holding symbols, section 37 agreements, plans of subdivision, minor variances, and more.
Ontario’s provincial land use plans provide more detailed policy direction than the Provincial Policy Statement for specific geographic areas. Ontario has plans that cover different parts of the province, for example:
- Greenbelt Plan
- Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan
- Niagara Escarpment Plan
- Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe
- Growth Plan for Northern Ontario
Provincial Policy Statement
The Provincial Policy Statement provides policy direction on land use planning and development. These policies protect provincial interests in areas like the economy and the environment. Official plans and provincial plans must be consistent with the provincial policy statement. Planning decisions (e.g. rezoning, official plans) that are not consistent with the Provincial Policy Statement can usually be appealed to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal.
Secondary plans are part of the official plan.
These plans apply to a smaller geographic area and provide more detailed policies for land use, infrastructure, transportation, environment, urban design in certain areas beyond the general framework provided by the official plan.
You can usually appeal a decision to approve or deny an amendment to a secondary plan.
A site plan is a development application under the Planning Act. A site plan usually includes detailed drawings that show the proposed buildings, landscaping, traffic and pedestrian access, drainage, parking and waste storage, among other things.
A site plan may be refused or it could be approved with conditions. A site plan agreement, which describes the development, may also be required.
Site plan decisions can only be appealed by the applicant.
Tier: Single tier, two-tier, upper tier, lower tier municipalities
Ontario municipalities are either single-tier or part of a two-tier.
A single-tier municipality assumes all municipal responsibilities. Toronto, Hamilton, Barrie and most municipalities in Northern Ontario are examples of single-tier municipalities.
In a two-tier system responsibilities are divided between an upper-tier and a lower-tier municipality. The upper-tier municipality provides services like regional or county roads or sewer and water services for the lower tier municipalities. Upper-tier municipalities are either a county (such as Brant or Wellington) or a regional municipality (such as Halton or Waterloo).
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs maintains a list which shows the level of each municipality.
If you’re unsure where you should submit a land use application, contact your municipality or Municipal Services Office. Depending where the property is located and the application type, it could be your municipality, the upper tier municipality or the Ministry of Municipal Affairs.
Toronto Local Appeal Body (TLAB)
The Toronto Local Appeal Tribunal (TLAB) is a tribunal that decides appeals of Committee of Adjustment decisions, i.e. land severances (also known as consents) and minor variances, in the city of Toronto.
In other parts of the province, these types of appeals are decided by Ontario’s Local Planning Appeal Tribunal.
Zoning by-laws regulate the way in which land can be used in different areas or “zones” of your municipality. Rules for each zone may talk about:
- The types of buildings that are permitted and how they can be used (e.g. residential vs. commercial)
- The lot sizes and dimensions, parking requirements, building heights and setbacks from the street.
Zoning By-law Amendment
If someone wants to use or develop their property in a way that is not allowed by the zoning by-law, they can apply for a zoning change, also known as a zoning by-law amendment or a rezoning. You can usually appeal a decision to approve or deny a zoning by-law amendment.
Municipalities can also amend the zoning by-law, either to bring it into line with official plan policies, or because they have decided the change is in the best interests of their community.