Development is a very broad term that encompasses activities that result in a change of land use or the construction or addition to a building(s) or to the creation of a parcel of land. Outlined in this section is a step-by-step guide through the development application review process for community groups, first-time builders and seasoned developers.
Where does the development review process start?
The Province of Ontario, through the Planning Act and the Municipal Act, determines how the development review process should be undertaken and how land uses may be controlled and by whom. The Planning Act is used in most development applications while the Municipal Act governs matters such as street openings, street closings and street name changes.
The City, at the direction of the Planning Act, creates an overall master-planning document called the Official Plan. The Zoning By-law is a companion document and a key tool in the implementation of the Official Plan.
You can obtain information and copies of the various Official Plan and Zoning By-laws by contacting 3-1-1 or any of the City's Client Service Centres.
Development Application Review Process
The Development Review Process includes 12 steps and specific milestones that apply to development applications. (Not all steps are required in every application - for example, some processes do not include public notification.).
Here are the 12 steps in the process.
1. Pre-Application Consultation
2. Application Submission
3. Application Deemed Complete / Reviewed for Adequacy
4. Community "Heads Up"
5. Circulation to Technical Agencies, Community Organizations and Ward Councillor
6. Posting of On-Site Signs
7. Community Information and Comment Session
8. Issue Resolution - Staff Memorandum or Committee Report Preparation
9. Notice of Decision by Staff (Applications Under Delegated Authority)
10. Notice of Public Meeting
11. Notice of Decision by Committee or Council
12. Post Application
The City of Ottawa welcomes and encourages comments from the public and community organizations regarding the development review process. Community organizations have an important role to play in the process and can provide practical and useful insights into the potential impacts of the Official Plan and Zoning By-law amendments, of subdivisions, commercial and industrial site plans and other planning matters that occur in or near their neighbourhoods.
Step One: Pre-Application Consultation
Pre-Application Consultation consists of potential applicants meeting with City staff, Ward Councillors, community associations and key stakeholders to discuss their proposed development application(s).
Pre-Application Consultation with City staff is required for specific types of development applications and is encouraged for all development applications, however for proposals that would have minimal impact on a community, phone calls or E-mails may be sufficient rather than meetings.
Pre-Application Consultation with City staff is mandatory for all potential Official Plan Amendments, (Major) Zoning By-law Amendments, Plans of Subdivision, Plans of Condominium (for vacant land or common elements) and Site Plan applications involving public consultation. This came into effect February 10, 2010 as a result of changes to the Planning Act in 2006 and to the City of Ottawa Official Plan in 2009.
Potential applicants should fill out a Pre-Application form and submit it by E-mail to the appropriate City of Ottawa Development Area Program Manager. At a meeting with a potential applicant, which could include external agencies, City Staff will review the types of application(s) and associated plans and studies required to support a proposal, and will confirm this by sending a completed Study and Plan Identification List to the potential applicant.
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Step Two: Application Submission
The application, required fee, plans and studies are submitted at a City of Ottawa Client Service Centre and forwarded to the appropriate department where staff are assigned to the application.
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Step Three: Application Deemed Complete / Reviewed for Adequacy
Prior to further processing, the application is reviewed in detail by the assigned staff to ensure it is complete. Staff then will advise the applicant if the application does not meet the requirements and if other information is required. It is important to note that the target timelines for applications will not commence until the submission requirements and any information or materials required to process the application are submitted by the applicant.
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Step Four: Community “Heads Up”
At this stage, if pre-application public consultation took place with the ward Councillor and community organizations, the assigned staff proceeds directly to Step Five. If pre-application public consultation did not occur, the assigned staff will contact the ward councillor and community organizations who have requested "pre-consultation" to give them a "heads up" about the application. The information package will be forwarded about one week later through the circulation process
The ward Councillor and community organizations may also request that the assigned staff arrange a meeting with the applicant as part of the "heads up" step in the process.
The technical circulation and public notification of the application may be delayed until after the meeting to allow for changes to be made to the application.
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Step Five: Circulation to Technical Agencies, Community Organizations and Ward Councillor
The assigned staff circulates the application to the Ward Councillor, various public bodies and other internal and external technical agencies. At the same time, the application is sent to community organizations in the affected area.
This bilingual circulation is a brief description of the proposed development with a location map and plans where applicable. A period of 28 days from the date of the mailing of the notice is provided for comments to be submitted to the assigned staff.
Site Plan Control Approval, under the delegated authority of the assigned staff, Part Lot Control with no public consultation, Lifting of 30 cm Reserves and Lifting of Holding By-laws are only circulated to Ward Councillors and technical agencies and comments are required within 14 days from the date of the notice.
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Step Six: Posting of On-Site Signs
The majority of development applications require that notification be provided to the public and community organizations by way of an on-site sign. The City ensures the quality control of these signs and is responsible for the production, posting, maintenance and removal of a sign in accordance with the City's standards
The on-site sign has a standard bilingual template for the text and the City of Ottawa logo. The wording on the signs is to include:
- Type of application
- Brief project description
- Municipal address or description of the site
- Bilingual contact information
For subdivision proposals, once the date, location and time of public meeting are confirmed, this information is also affixed to the sign.
There are also specifications regarding size, material, paint, lettering and instructions as to where the sign should be posted on the site.
The sign remains on the site until a decision is rendered on the application. In certain cases such as a rural setting/greenfield area where a sign may not be effective, staff may complete a mail notice, to advise the area residents/land owners of the application.
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Step Seven: Community Information and Comment Session
Depending on the response from the general public and community organizations, the ward Councillor or the applicant may request that staff hold a "Community Information and Comment Session" in order to present the application to the public, to hear comments and concerns, to provide technical clarification and to explain the development review process. Notice of the session is sent to the organizations and members of the public who provided comments at an earlier stage in the process. This notice may also include an advertisement in the local newspaper. At these sessions, the applicant and or the applicant's agents present details about the proposed development.
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Step Eight: Issue Resolution - Staff Memorandum or Committee Report Preparation
During the issue resolution stage, staff work with the applicant, ward Councillor, community organizations and the general public to resolve issues and problems identified with the application. It is important to point out, however, that not all concerns are resolved during this stage. And, in some cases, the differences between the proponent and the public may be too great to resolve.
After the issue resolution stage, the assigned staff prepare either a Departmental Delegated Authority Report, in the case of delegated approvals, or a Departmental Committee Report for applications not under delegated authority or where delegated authority has been withdrawn. These reports establish the Department's position on the application.
All comments and positions received from the public are summarized and community organization comments are identified separately and are responded to in a Delegated Authority Report or Committee Report.
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Step Nine: Notice of Decision by Staff (Applications Under Delegated Authority)
For Plans of Subdivision, Condominium Applications and Site Plan Control Approvals, under the authority of the General Manager (Director), the "Delegated Authority Report", including the conditions of approval, is sent electronically to the ward Councillor and applicant for concurrence before signing by the General Manager (Director) or their delegate. If the Councillor and applicant agrees with the recommendation, the report is signed.
For Plans of Subdivision, the applicant, owners and any person or public body that requested to be notified or who made a verbal or written submission at the public meeting will be notified of the decision of the General Manager (Director) within 15 days and have 20 days to submit an appeal.
For certain applications including Site Plan Control Approvals (under the authority of the assigned staff), Lifting of 30 cm Reserves, Lifting of Part Lot Control, Removal of a Holding Zone or Road Closures, the "Delegated Authority Report", is signed without a requirement for review by the ward Councillor.
Notice of the decision is sent to the ward Councillor and to those who submitted comments on the application or who requested to be notified of the decision.
For Removal of a Holding Zone, notice of the decision (Notice of Intent to Pass a By-law) is sent to every landowner to which the By-law would apply and to every person or public body who requested to be notified or it is advertised in The Ottawa Citizen and Le Droit if the Holding Zone applies to a large geographical area and there are numerous landowners.
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Step Ten: Notice of Public Meeting
- Official Plan and Zoning By-law Amendments. The Statutory Public Meetings as required by the Planning Act will be held at the Committee Meetings.
- Plan of Subdivision, Site Plan Control, Plan of Condominium and Part Lot Control and Road Openings when delegated authority has been withdrawn will also be held at the Committee Meetings.
- The ward Councillor, the applicant, community organizations and members of the public who have requested to be notified of the meeting, will be sent written notification of the meeting and a copy of the Departmental Report 10 days before the Committee Meeting.
A listing of the reports to be considered by the Committee is advertised in The Citizen and Le Droit newspapers on the Friday of the week before the Committee meeting and again the Friday before that. Advertisements may also be placed in community newspapers. The Departmental Reports are also available via the City's Web site on the Monday before the Committee meeting.
Official Plan and Zoning By-law Amendments
For site-specific Official Plan Amendments and Zoning By-law Amendments, notification by mail is used instead of a newspaper advertisement of the public meeting notice. For city-wide or area-wide amendments (either Official Plan Amendments or Zoning By-law Amendments) bilingual advertising will be undertaken in local daily newspapers including in some cases community newspapers.
Plans of Subdivision
For Plans of Subdivision a public meeting is held in the community unless delegated authority has been withdrawn, in which case the City Committee will hold the public meeting. Notice of the application and of the public meeting will involve sending a notice to all property owners within 120 meters of the proposed subdivision, all affected community organizations, and the posting of an on-site sign at least 14 days before the meeting. Staff may also place advertisements in the local newspaper.
Road or Lane Closures
Written notice of the staff decision on the application is sent to all members of the public and community organizations who responded to the written notice by mail at the beginning of the process.
Upon Council approval of conveyance price and concurrence by the applicant, the Intent to Close is advertised, or the affected owners are notified.
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Step Eleven: Notice of Decision by Committee or Council
Members of the public can attend the Committee meeting or send a written submission. At the Committee meeting, representatives of community organizations and the general public can address the Committee to outline their concerns or support for the application. Members of the public cannot address Council meetings.
Once the Committee has made a decision on a development application that requires City Council approval, their recommendations are forwarded to City Council for a final decision. Since City Council may agree, amend or overturn the recommendations of the Committee, community organizations are encouraged to monitor the development application up to and including consideration of the matter by City Council. The City Clerk will advise the applicant of Council's decision.
For Official Plan Amendments, all persons who requested to be notified or who made oral or written submission at the Committee will be notified of the adoption of the Amendment by City Council within 15 days of the Council passage of the by-law. They have 20 days to submit an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board.
For Zoning By-law Amendments, if a by-law is passed by City Council, notice of the passage is undertaken within 15 days either by mail to landowners within 120 meters of the site, plus other persons or community organizations who made verbal or written submissions at the Committee or by advertising in the English and French daily newspapers. Twenty days are allowed for appeals.
For Plan of Subdivision applications, the applicant, owners and any person or public body that requested to be notified will be notified of the decision within 15 days and have 20 days to appeal, after the Manager has granted approval.
For all other applications where a decision is made by Committee or Council, no notice of that decision is provided to the public. Decisions of City Council can be viewed approximately two weeks later.
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Step Twelve: Post Application
Official Plan and Zoning By-law Amendments
If no appeals are received after notification of the decision, the Official Plan or Zoning By-law Amendment comes into effect.
Plans of Subdivision
If no appeals are received after notification of the draft approval of the Plan of Subdivision, the owner must satisfy the conditions of draft approval.
When the conditions have been cleared, the subdivision agreement signed and securities posted, the Plan of Subdivision is ready for final approval.
The General Manager (Director) gives Final Approval and the plan is registered.
Site Plan Control
If a registered agreement or Letter of Undertaking is required, the owner initiates the preparation by contacting the assigned staff and usually has six months to sign these documents and provide all the securities and fees prior to the issuance of a building permit.
Upon completion of the development, the owner may request an inspection for partial release of the securities. The balance of the securities will be released once the work has been completed to the City's satisfaction.
Site Plan Control applies to the property until a request is made to release the agreement. For approval with Letters of Undertaking, Site Plan Control remains in effect until all the securities have been released.
Road Closing and Opening
Upon approval, the applicant must provide all necessary documentation to the Legal Services Branch and any monies required to the City prior to the conveyance of lands for a road closing. A By-law must also be prepared and passed by City Council.
Lifting of Part Lot Control
The Legal Services Branch prepares and forwards the by-Law to City Council once the applicant has fulfilled all required conditions. The applicant then must request the registration of the by-law.
Lifting of 30 Centimetre Reserves
The Legal Services Branch prepares a by-law to lift the reserve and forwards it to City Council for approval. The reserve may be re-conveyed directly to the abutting owners or through the registration of a by-law.
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