Planning and Development Approvals in Toronto


Under the Ontario Municipal Act, Toronto and all other municipalities in the province are required to have an Official Plan (OP) and zoning by-laws to set the standards for new development, construction and renovations on all properties.


Toronto Official Plan policies guide the Zoning By-law, which establishes the permissions under which property owners can build a new house or add to an existing one. The zoning applies equally to all existing homes and additions, as well as new builds and condominiums. Zoning by-laws are considered the standard for any changes to a home, whether it is replaced or augmented. They are subject to review including consultation with community and local ratepayer groups.


New houses and additions will inevitably change the character of a street. Zoning can regulate form in terms of height, size, setback from the street, size of front and back yards, proximity to a neighbour's property, and other structures on the lot. It does not, however, have the same ability to control the appearance of housing traits such as style, colour, building materials or character.


The Municipal Act also requires the establishment of a process for Minor Variance of the zoning, to be delegated by the Committee of Adjustment. The Ontario Planning Act permits the Committee of Adjustment to make decisions on Minor Variance from the Zoning By-law, and to grant permission for non-conforming use of land or structures. If a property owner wishes to build a structure larger than is currently permitted by zoning, provincial legislation allows them to take the matter to the Committee of Adjustment.


The Ontario Municipal Board

Provincial legislation permits parties (homeowners/applicants) to appeal a decision by the Committee of Adjustment. The Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) is an independent tribunal that conducts hearings and makes decisions on matters that have been appealed.